Aloo Tikki Potato Fritters with Sizzled Tomatoes

Aloo Tikki

AVE we Irish got a taste for spices or what! Thirty years ago, when I first started the Ballymaloe Cookery School, garlic was still considered by many to be daring and exotic.

It was ten years before most of us dared to experiment with chilli not to speak of spices other than a few cloves in an apple tart or ginger with rhubarb in jam or gingerbread.

Somehow in the mid 80s I heard about Madhur Jaffrey and found her BBC Far Eastern Cookery book. I was hooked and longed to learn more about spices so I picked up the courage to telephone her in New York and invite her to teach at the Ballymaloe Cookery School — she agreed. I was beyond thrilled and my spice odyssey began.

Shopping for that first course was challenging. I hadn’t even heard of some of the ingredients- puffed rice, poha, urad dhal, chana dhal … .

Finding the finest basmati rice was difficult in itself but what was as asafetida, amchur powder, etc. I had no idea what fenugreek or black cardamom even looked like.

With the help of Mr Bell in Cork’s English Market in Cork city, we gathered all the ingredients – Madhur arrived and the magic began.

Even that first cooking course was completely oversubscribed. Madhur introduced us to a myriad of new and exciting flavours and techniques. Life has never been quite the same since.

Fast forward 17 years, in 1997, a young Anglo Indian chap called Arun Kapil enrolled on the 12-week Certificate Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, he’d been an ace disc jockey in the UK for a number of years but wanted a break for a short spell from the London scene. Shanagarry in East Cork sounded just the ticket. Spices were part of Arun’s DNA, after a time in Ballymaloe House kitchen, he started to experiment with spice blends.

Customers at his Farmers Market stall were thrilled to find such a selection of beautiful fresh spices imported directly from Arun’s relatives in the Cardamom hills in Kerala. Demand grew, the top chefs both in Ireland and the UK loved the quality, mail order was added to the equation, Arun fell in love and married Olive, a lovely Irish girl whom he met at Ballymaloe.

Lots of TV appearances and now at last the book — Fresh Spice has been published by Pavilion, a collection of vibrant recipes for bringing flavour, depth and colour to home cooking.

Arun has been around spices all his life and he could talk for Ireland and India about all the fascinating aspects of spice production.

He urges us all to look on spices in a whole new way, think fresh and whole rather than ground. Buy in small quantities from a shop that has a quick turnover.

Invest in a pestle and mortar or and /or an electric spice grinder or coffee grinder to grind to order for each recipe, think of the difference between fresh and dried herbs. Sage advice that can revolutionise our food, here’s a few of the simpler recipes from Fresh Spice to whet your appetite for the vibrant flavours of spice.

Madhur Jaffrey, who by the way spoke highly of the quality of Arun’s spices when she was over for the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine in 2013, has also published a new book Vegetarian Curry Easy.

 

Aloo Tikki Potato Fritters with Sizzled Tomatoes

My Dad often used to make us fried potato cakes when he got into the kitchen when Mum was out. They’re a staple of any street-food vendor in northern India and a must-have whenever you’re walking around the streets of Old Delhi in winter. This is my version – simple, effective and totally delicious. If you have a splash guard, then I’d recommend using it here because the tomato sauce really spits. A bit messy, I grant you, but essential for the finished dish, so don’t be tempted to turn down the heat – but do be careful not to burn it.

makes 8 patties

500g (1lb 2 oz) floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled

3–4 tbsp sunflower oil

150g (5½oz) onion, diced

30g (1oz) fresh ginger, finely grated

2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (use less if you don’t want it too hot)

3 tsp Garam Masala blend

1 tsp powdered turmeric

2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1 handful mint leaves, torn or chopped

1 small handful coriander leaves, chopped

For the sizzled tomatoes:

3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

400g (14oz) tin whole plum tomatoes, drained

1 pinch finely ground black pepper

Sea salt

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and lightly mash. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-based frying pan or sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry gently for 3 minutes, then add the ginger and continue cooking until the onion is soft.

Add the chillies, the Garam Masala, turmeric, mustard seeds and salt. Stir and cook for 2 minutes more, then turn off the heat, set aside and allow to cool to tepid.

Add the herbs and mashed potato and mix thoroughly. Divide the potato mix into eight mounds, then form them into evenly sized balls.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add three or four balls.

Gently press them down into flat but chunky patties and cook for about 10 minutes until light brown on each side. Repeat until you’ve cooked all the potato fritters.

Serve immediately with sizzled tomatoes

Put a large saucepan over a medium–low heat. Add the olive oil and garlic slices and cook for a few minutes to soften without browning.

Add the tomatoes, pepper and salt to taste, then turn up the heat and cook fiercely, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.

The tomatoes will release all of their juices.

When all the thin liquid has evaporated, add a splash more olive oil, adjust the seasoning and serve hot.

 

Beets, fennel, radish & shoots, black pepper & lemon dressing

A superb, fresh and strikingly beautiful salad to serve as a starter, main or simply for when you want to treat yourself or friends to a light snack bursting with radiant, vibrant flavours. Just be careful if you’re going to use a mandolin and follow the ‘user guide’ to avoid nipping your fingertips!

2 medium Heritage golden & red beets, peeled

3 medium carrots, peeled

7 or 8 radishes

1 medium fennel bulb trimmed

75 ml, 2 floz good olive oil

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 small dried red Bird’s Eye chilli, crumbled

Sea salt, to taste

1 fresh pomegranate, cut in half

2 tsp star anise, freshly ground, fine

½ tsp black pepper, coarsely ground

Small handful pea shoots, stalk chopped off

A generous amount flat leaf parsley thinly sliced 1mm (not chopped)

50g-100g, up to 3oz Goats cheese, choose a nice mature crumbly one, you can use less or more as you prefer

Grab a mandolin slicer, if you have one, or a sharp knife if you don’t. Taking great care, very thinly slice the beets, carrots, radish, fennel, place them all in a medium-sized bowl, then set aside

To the bowl, add the star anise powder, olive oil and lemon, then sprinkle in the chilli, salt, and pepper

Leave it rest for 5 minutes, then toss everything together to combine them. Transfer to a serving platter. Now, take a small bowl, then in one hand, hold the pomegranate half just above it, cut-side facing down. With your other hand, grab a wooden spoon, firmly and repeatedly strike the pomegranate to release the seeds and its juice into the bowl

Remove any white pith from the seeds by hand, then scatter them over the salad followed by the gorgeous red juices; drizzled randomly over the salad

Now just crumble the goats cheese, sprinkle the parsley, the pea shoots over and serve immediately.

 

Arun’s (Fat Free) Mincemeat


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