Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Motka Halwai’s Alu-ka-Tarkari, That Sunday Morning Runny Potato Curry

I like to role-play in my kitchen. When I am not playing Nigella, I play more realistic characters, like Motka Halwai, the neighbourhood sweet-maker from my life in Patna.

No one knew his name. Perhaps he had a sexy name like Raj, or Rohan, or Shahrukh. But somehow those names do not quite go with his personality or the way he looked like. Hence, we shall call him Motka Halwai (Hindi for Fat Sweet-maker).

Motka Halwai was 300 kilos of pure adipose. Dripping sweat in his shabby dhoti and ganji-vest, which probably had seen whiter days.  Sitting cross-legged on a wooden platform, which did not quite look like it could withstand the beast of burden any longer. Rolling out hundreds of kachoris every morning, ladling piping hot alu-ka-tarkari in tiny sal-leaf bowls. Dextrously making crispy, spiralled jalebis, dripping with sugar syrup. That is a picture I have lived with for the last three decades. And it has been a torture of sorts.

IMG_6199Motka Halwai was my childhood superhero. He possibly is the only superhero with the underwear in place.

I can say that I have been successfully been able to replicate his alu-ka-tarkari taste here in TO, with some long-distance help from the Mother.


Ingredients for Motka Halwai’s Alu-ka-Tarkari are:

8-10 medium size potatoes, halved and cut into quarters, retain the skin
2-3 tablespoons chana dal/Bengal gram, soaked in water for a couple of hours and sieved
One tablespoon coriander powder
Half teaspoon red chilli powder
One teaspoon turmeric powder
One teaspoon panch phoron (five whole spices mixed together in equal quantities – celery seeds, fennel seeds, cumin, Nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds)
5-6 dry whole red chillies
2-3 tablespoons mustard oil
One and a half cups water

IMG_6167Start by heating oil in a pressure pan. Add the whole dry red chillies and panch phoron seeds. Let them splutter for a few seconds.

Add the quartered potatoes and the chana dal and mix well. Cook these ingredients for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat. IMG_6170Now add the coriander powder, red chilli powder and turmeric and mix everything up. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

IMG_6172Add water and salt. Bring to a boil and pressure cook till 1-2 whistles go off.

IMG_6189IMG_6235Serve Motka Halwai’s runny potato curry with kachoris or luchi. You can also fantasize about his absolutely indomitable waist circumference. It is pretty exciting if you mix it with the idea of a man cooking for you.



shooting star said...

this post brings back memories of shyamer chop corner at my dadu's hometown in sodepur kolkata, that guy in ganji and lungi selling amazing chops for so many years(decades) now....

Hamaree Rasoi said...

How tempting to look curry. I wish I could come up to your level soon. Till then would bookmark it as my To Do List recipe.darun.

krishna said...

longing to have food which are made by you. you are like a professional chef...

Charmis said...

Pree ..I absolutely love all your posts..

such mouth watering and wonderful recipes ..Must say u r an inspiration

God bless.

Priya said...

Wish to have this wonderful looking alu ka tarkari with my rotis for my dinner tonite,beautifully done.

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

looks so yum! love it...
and conjuring up the image of the nice roly poly guy making this..

Chowder Singh said...

Lovely recipe and superb pix.

nee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nidhi said...

Pree, made this recipe today :) turned out well.. I think I added much more panch phoran than required. .it was a slightly bitter.. and not as red as yours (guess you added more lal mirth). Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Pree Basu said...

@Nidhi, the measurements that you see in this post is what I have used in my recipe at home (reference to you thinking I added more red chili powder than what's mentioned!). The reason I use accurate measurements/quantities of the ingredients is for my readers to be able to use the ratios. Panch Phoron will turn bitter if it gets burned in hot oil, adding more won't make it taste "bitter". Hope this helps. :-)

Nidhi said...

My husband absolutely loved it :) he has taken it for lunch too :) thanks :) It did not taste bitter at all when I had it later.

indosungod said...

I had tasted this curry once in my "North Indian" neighbors house or maybe I just caught a glimpse. I am so glad I can make it for myself now. Love the color and the combination of Chana dal and potatoes is very unique for me at least.

Dew said...

Pree, I tried making this recipe of yours... and pleased to link it to my recent post.

Am happy I tried it. Thanks for sharing it with us. Simply loved it.