Continuing on the theme of Devakarya menu from my last post (Ginger Chutney), here is another dish with is also a staple on the menu – Aambat Batata. ‘Aambat’ means ‘sour’ in Marathi – although, like in most Indian cuisines and, therefore, in Indian languages, there are different types of ‘sour’ tastes – so the actual taste kinda gets lost in translation here. The ‘sourness’ of Aambat Batata is very light…so I guess a closer approximation would be to describe it as ‘tangy’ perhaps? Best is for you to try it out and decide for yourself.
Aambat Batata is a favorite with my sister-in-law. And since she lives outside the country and doesn’t have the time – like most of us – Aai has designed a ‘short-cut’ recipe for her. So am going to give you the original recipe here followed by the ‘short-cut’ one.
- Potatoes – 3 to 4, medium sized. Cut them into long slices – approximately the length of the potato, about 1/2 inch in breadth and 3/4th cms thick. Tip: If you are dicing the potatoes a couple of hours or more prior to the actual cooking, remember to soak the potatoes in water. It prevents them from darkening.
- Tamarind – the size of one small lemon. Soak for an hour or so and extract & use the pulpy juice.
- Coconut – grated, 1 cup
- Black Pepper Corns – 8 to 10
- Rice – 1/2 tsp (or 1 tsp of rice flour)
- Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
- jaggery – 1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
For the Tadka or ‘Phodni’ (as we call it in Marathi):
- Mustard Seeds (‘Mohri’ or ‘Rai’) – 1/2 tsp
- Asafoetida (‘Heeng’) – 1/2 tsp
- Fenugreek (‘Methi’) granules – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric (‘haldi’) – 1/2 tsp
- Oil – 2 to 2.5 tsps
First make the ‘Goli‘ or ‘Vaatap‘ – which is basically the coconut-based paste that is the basis of most gravies in this region. ‘Vaatap‘ means ‘that which has been ground‘
Mix the coconut, black peppercorns, and rice (or rice flour) and grind to a fine paste, adding water only as required. The resultant paste should be thick, not watery! Keep aside. You can also make this ‘vaatap’ on an earlier day(s) and store it in the freezer. Only thing is remember to thaw it properly before you make the actual dish.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, allow them to splutter, then add the Methi, Heeng and Haldi. Add the diced potatoes, salt and red chilli powder. Then add enough water to ensure that the potatoes are completely submerged in the water. Steam on a low-to-medium flame till the potatoes are cooked. Remember to cover the pan with a flat lid and pour some water on the lid while steaming. Some varieties of potatoes take a long time to cook – so keep checking and adding water as required if the potatoes are taking longer to get done.
When the potatoes are near-done, add the tamarind paste and boil for about 5 mins – till the ‘raw’ smell of the tamarind goes away. I asked my mom a silly question at this point – why cant we wait till the potatoes are fully cooked before we add the tamarind paste. She said because the whole thing needs to be boiled for 5 mins after the tamarind paste is added – and if the potatoes have been fully cooked, then they tend to break and dissolve when this boiling is going on. Duh!
Once this is done, add the ‘Vaatap’ – the coconut-based paste – and the jaggery and bring to a light boil over a low flame. As with all coconut-based gravies, make sure you don’t bring this to an ‘active’ or ‘big’ boil.
And your Aambat Batata is ready…
THE SHORT-CUT RECIPE:
The short-cut method basically does away with the ‘Vaatap”
- Potatoes- same as the ingredients above
- Tamarind option – you can use readymade tamarind paste instead of tamarind. Mix 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste in 1/4th cup water and blend well.
- Coconut Milk – thick, available readymade – 1/2 cup. This is instead of the grated coconut.
- Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp. This is instead of the whole pepper corns
- Rice Flour – 1/2 Tsp
- Red Chilli Powder – 1 Tsp
- Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
For the Tadka or Phodni – same as given above in the original recipe
Follow the same procedure as given in the original recipe till the stage where you need to add the tamarind paste. Here, use the readymade tamarind paste option as given in the ingredients above.
Next, instead of the ‘Vaatap’, we are going to use the coconut milk. First blend the rice flour into the coconut milk making sure no lumps remain. Add this to the potato mix in the pan, then add the pepper powder and jaggery. Bring to a low boil over a low flame.
Aambat Batata goes well with rotis, rice and even puris.