Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aloo Puri and Aamrakhand-the Quintessential Maharashtrian Feast

My sister A. is very picky when it comes to Indian food. However, the few things the she does enjoy, she absolutely loves them. Aamrakhand, a Maharashtrian dessert traditionally made from yogurt drained overnight mixed with mango pulp and spices, is one such dish that she relishes. So, to celebrate the end of her exams, I decided to make her a special dinner of aamrakhand, along with aloo curry and puris(a popular fried Indian bread served on special occasions), which is a very traditional celebration menu in Maharashtra. The aamrakhand recipe is adapted from that of our family friend B.

Aamrakhand:
Ingredients
3 16 ounce containers Greek yogurt

16 ounces sour cream

1 can Kesar Mango pulp(available at Indian grocey stores)

1.5 tsp. cardamom powder

3/4 tsp. nutmeg powder

1/2 tsp. saffron powder

1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

Directions:
Combine the Greek yogurt and sour cream and drain for a couple of hours. Then, mix in the rest of the ingredients with a hand whisk. Let sit overnight to allow the flavors to meld together and to let the mango flavor fully develop.



This recipe was designed to make a huge batch for a party. Without thinking, I prepared the whole batch for dinner that night! We spent the next few days eating aamrakhand after every meal and still had quite a bit left over. But, the leftovers can be frozen in popsicle molds to make mango frozen yogurt :) If you’re making this just for your family, I would cut the recipe at least in ½, maybe to ¼ depending on the number of people.

Aloo Curry:
Ingredients:
2 large potatoes, cut into 3/4" cubes
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1" piece ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. hing(asaofetida)
1.5 tbsp. oil
2 large tomatoes, pureed
1/2-1 tsp. cayenne pepper(depending on your heat preference)
1.5 tsp. salt
about 2.5 cups water(enough to make a gravy)

Directions:
Place potato cubes in water to prevent them from browning.



Grind ginger and garlic to make a paste. Gind cumin and fennel seeds together to make a powder. Heat oil in a pot. Then add the mustard seeds and leave on high heat until the seeds begin to pop. Then, lower the heat to medium and add the hing. Then, add the onion. Sautee the chopped onion over medium-high heat until slightly tenderand transluscent. Add the garlic-ginger paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the ground cumin and fennel powder along with the cayenne pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Then, mix in the tomato puree. Next, drain the potato cubes and add to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, and then add the salt and enough water to make a gravy. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until the potato cubes and almost breaking apart(about 15-20 minutes). Mash a few potato cubes into the gravy to thicken it up. Turn off the stove when the desired consistency is reached.



Serves 5-6

A.'s reaction when she tasted the aloo curry: "Ameya, you're going to have to make this for me when I go away to college and send it to me!" Now that's what I call a compliment, especially coming from A. about Indian food :)

Puris:
Ingredients:
1 cup farina ground into a flour combined with 1 cup whole wheat flour OR 2 cups atta(chapati flour available in Indian grocery stores)
1 heaping tbsp. gram flour/besan
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. hot oil
1/4 cup yogurt
Oil for deep frying
Enough water to form a stiff dough(I used about 5 tbsp.)
Directions:
Combine all ingredients except water in food processor. Stream in water, one tbsp. at a time, until the ingredients just barely comes together to form a stiff dough. Reomve, place in a metal bowl, and cover. Let it sit for at least 18-19 hours, up to 24 hours. Yogurt serves as the acid medium to soak the grains in this recipe. (To learn about the nutritional value of soaking grains, see this post by Lindsay Edmonds:
http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/04/whole-grains-grinding-soaking.html)

When ready to make the puris, put oil in a wok 2" deep. Then, make balls with the dough 1" in diameter. Roll them out to 3-4" in diameter.








When oil is hot, slide 1 round in gently inside, let it cook for about 30 seconds. When puri puffs, flip it and let it cook for another 30-45 seconds and remove with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and serve.







This meal is always a welcome treat in our family. One look at my plate and you'll see why :)

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