January 8, 2013

Cumin-Spiced Potatoes

Jeera Aloo
This afternoon at lunch, as I was  browsing the New Herbies page on Facebook, I came across pictures and a video recipe for Jeera Aloo. Simply translated, it is a dish consisting of Cumin-Spiced potatoes. I was reminded of lazy afternoons when Mom would make Jeera Aloo for lunch, and hence decided to make my own version tonight!! 

The posted pictures looked amazing and I'm sure it tasted great as well.  However, and yes, there is always a however ... when I looked at the video - two things jumped out at me (a) the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of oil and (b) it used at least 10 different spices and condiments (if not more). In my opinion, when oil or butter are added to potatoes - they seem to absorb it all and only begin to look/feel/taste greasy when the starch is completely saturated (e.g. deep-fried french fries feel greasy on the tongue but a baked potato, even with a gob of butter often seems dry) - so in my opinion, the 2 tablespoons of oil (in 4 cups of diced potatoes) would just disappear and make the dish appear healthy. Here's the bad part - if one used 2 tbsp of olive oil, there would be 28 g of pure fat, and 280 calories hiding in this dish.  Secondly, Jeera Aloo is supposed to be a simple quick fix meal back home in India. Typically, it is eaten with fresh chapatis and the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity. I didn't think it needs to be complicated with so many flavors.  

Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (6 Servings): 
  1. 4 Russet Potatoes (steamed and peeled)*
  2. 1 Medium White Onion
  3. 3 tsp Cumin Seeds
  4. 1.5 cup Vegetable Broth
  5. 1 tsp Deggi Chili Powder
  6. 1 tsp Salt
  7. 1/8 cup fresh Coriander Leaves
* If you want to leave the skins on, use red potatoes instead and cook in the broth, instead of presteaming the potatoes. I chose to remove the potato skins because that is how I grew up eating it.

Scrub 4 potatoes with a vegetable brush and while still soaking wet, put all 4 in a grocery bag and place in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Once done, test the potatoes with a pastry pin or knife for doneness. If needed, microwave for another 5 minutes and the potatoes should be really well steamed. This is  a trick I learnt a few years ago from my sister-in-law Arti - of the Aloo Paratha fame!! The grocery bag helps maintain the moisture in the potatoes while they are getting steamed.  Once done, transfer potatoes to a colander or a bowl and the skin should peel off really quickly off the potatoes. 

Aloo Jeera
While the potatoes are being steamed in the microwave, line a skillet with vegetable broth and add cumin and deggi chili powder. As they both release their aroma, add diced onion and mix well. Add salt, which will allow the onions to wilt and then reduce heat to medium low to allow the onions to cook down. Once potatoes are done, peel and dice each one into bite-sized pieces. Steamed potatoes tend to become crumbly, so don't worry if your pieces don't look perfect, the crumbles, mix-in with the cumin and onions and that is what adds to the flavor to this dish. Toss everything together, adding splashes of vegetable broth if the potatoes begin to look dry. You want the potatoes to be moist, but not runny. I ended up using about 1.5 cups of broth today but I've used a little more or less in the past. Cover, turn heat to medium-low and let sit for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to blend and merge. After 5 minutes or so, uncover, toss well and add finely tossed cilantro leaves and give it another toss. Do a quick taste test for salt and add more, as needed. Garnish with a sprinkle of deggi chili powder and a sprig of Cilantro. 

Steamed Broccoli & Jeera Aloo
My Assessment: Both my DH and I loved over dinner tonight!! We had a huge plates of steamed Broccoli with Jeera Aloo. Amazing!!! :)  

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 119
Total Fat 0.7 g; Cholesterol 0 g; Carbohydrates 24.7 g; Fiber 3.8 g; Sugars 2.6 g; Protein 4.0 g

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