“This may seem like a slightly strange dish to serve with rice, but then the British do have a chip butty, so maybe every country has a carb-loaded comfort dish somewhere on the menu. Don’t write it off, this is a truly delicious recipe and although it is humble, that doesn’t take away from the satisfaction it delivers,” explains former MasterChef finalist, Saira Hamilton.
“In Bangladesh, most of the potato varieties are very small and slightly pink. The down-side of this is that it takes a long time to peel enough potatoes to make a reasonable amount of the dish, but the plus-side is that they taste fantastic. To get the same kind of flavour and texture, use a salad potato, such as Pink Fir Apple or Anya. The potatoes are cooked in their skins to prevent waterlogging, and then peeled when they are just cool enough to handle. But if you prefer, the potatoes can always be peeled before they are boiled.
“Once cooked, the potatoes are mashed with mustard oil which gives them a very piquant flavour. This dish really is a taste of my childhood so I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.”
(Serves 4–6 as a side dish)
450g new potatoes
1 1/2tsp salt
2tsp mustard-infused oil (see instructions below on making this)
2tsp wholegrain mustard
2tbsp finely diced shallot
1tbsp finely chopped fresh green chilli
2tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
To make the mustard-infused oil:
Although widely used in Bangladeshi cuisine, mustard oil is banned for consumption in the EU, Canada and USA due to concerns over its erucic acid content – but you can make your own mustard-infused oil instead. Simply heat some vegetable oil in a small pan then stir in freshly crushed mustard seeds, turn off the heat and allow the mustard to infuse the oil slowly. Once it is cool, strain and store the oil in a cool, dark place to use when needed. For 250ml of oil, use 2tbps or 30g of whole mustard seeds.
1. Put the potatoes in a large pan with enough cold water over them to cover. Add one teaspoon of the salt to the water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the potatoes to cook for around 25 minutes until they are cooked through completely.
2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to steam-dry for 10 minutes. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, use a table knife to peel off the papery skins and discard them. Place the cooked potatoes into a bowl and while they are still warm add in the mustard-infused oil, wholegrain mustard and remaining half teaspoon salt, and mash it all together very well with a fork or potato masher.
3. Finally add in the chopped shallot, chilli and fresh coriander and mix together well before serving immediately. If the bortha is not warm enough for your liking, you can cover the bowl with foil and reheat in a moderate oven (180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4) for 20 minutes before serving.
4. The aloo bortha can be served with rice or a Bangladeshi flatbread such as roti or paratha.
My Bangladesh Kitchen: Recipes And food memories From A Family Table by Saira Hamilton, photography by Ian Garlick, is published by Lorenz Books, priced £20. Available now.
- Press Association