Anyone who has been through the grind of a training at a kitchen from a basic level whether in films or in real life, would tell you one story – how their life began with peeling of skins, be it potato or of onion. The toughest one in any kitchen, home or any restaurant kitchen is onions perhaps followed by others. For many, this is a reality check of the fancy lives of chefs which are portrayed on TV shows or movies or in Social media starts from this step. The skin needs to be removed meticulously, then sliced or cut or chopped as per the requirement of the day and then the day ends for a trainee in kitchen.
One of the simplest and easiest Bengali curry or torkari as we call it is alur torkari. Now alu, being a favourite of all Bengali households, there are innumerous ways of preparing alur torkari. In this curry the skin of the potato is not peeled off on purpose which is an acquired taste for the Bengalis. Most of the Bihari and the non Bengali kochuri/ Puri shops in Kolkata serves this Alur torkari where the potato skin is not peeled off. While the best combination with luchi will be shada alur torkari or kalo jeere diye alur torkari (potatoes made with nigella seeds); with kochuri (the stuffed flat bread with either bengal grams or grean peas mashed) will have slightly larger pieces of Alu ( preferably one potato cut into 4 – the famous mangshor jhol cut). This alur torkari with skins left on is a perfect combo with home made fresh piping hot rotis or phulkas.
A very homely simple and quick to make torkari, I dare not to show this post to my Ma as she will laugh or admonish me, saying that is this even a recipe to post or discuss as she thinks this is her own kitchen hack/ secret and she is one social media shy person like me. This alur torkari is so Ma and as a child, I remember Ma making fresh rotis to serve to Baba and me. The skin of the potatos gives a rustic feeling and a beautiful texture to the boiled potatoes. The rustic smell of the potato skin hits the olfactory lobes. This blog will see many more recipes but the essence of this blog lies on documenting the recipes which otherwise will go into oblivion. So its back to basics and back to roots this time.
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Alur torkari/Kolkata style spicy potato curry with skin
- 400 gms small potatoes
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder
- 1 no dried red chilli
- 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 1/2 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1/4 tsp Sugar
- 4 nos green chillies
- salt as per taste
- 1 pinch heeng
- First wash the potatoes under running water for a long time. Make sure that there is no dirt on the skins. Do not peel the potatoes. Cut them into small cubes, perhaps 1/2 inch cubes or a little bigger than that.
- In a sauce pan, boil the potatoes with turmeric powder, red chilli powder and a little bit of salt with about 4 cups of water. Cover and boil till the potatoes become soft.
- While the potatoes are boiling, dry roast the coriander seeds slightly and then using a mortar and pestle, crush them a little bit.
- Once the potatoes have become soft, take a skillet and heat mustard oil. Temper with dried red chilli, heeng and the crushed coriander seeds. Once they start to splutter, transfer the spices along with the oil into the sauce pan with the potatoes.
- Add split green chilies, little bit of sugar. Check the seasoning and add moe salt if required. Give it one boil. If the curry is too runny, then make a slurry with a couple of tsps of whole wheat flour and add to the gravy which will give it some body.
- Serve it with some phulkas.