I first had these spiced potatoes in D.C., thanks to father's cousin Mariam who would often bring them over to our place as a savory side.
While there was never an aloo (potato) dish I didn't like, this one was special. It was cooling, savory, and unlike any other aloo bhujia I had before.
When I reached out to Mariam to share her favorite recipe as part of my drive to capture a more complete picture of what Pakistani cuisine looks and tastes like, I was excited when she finally taught me how to make this delicious, mysterious potato dish.
Thanks to her Karachi upbringing, Mariam was exposed to a much more diverse culinary palette as a child than I was. She learned to make these spiced potatoes not from her mother but from her Gujarati neighbors in Karachi's colorful and chaotic Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighborhood.
Rumor has it that this dish originally became popular with the Gujarati trader community because it stores and travels easily. I like it because it's delicious, easy and takes than less than 10 minutes of active cooking time.
Serves 4 (if having as a side)
3 medium sized potatoes
Salt to taste
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp of vegetable/canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 fresh curry pata (curry leaves available in specialty Indian/Pakistani grocery stores)
3-4 dried red chilies (preferably round)
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of cumin powder
Turmeric, cumin powder and red chili flakes are available at nearly all grocery stores. You should be able to find mustard seeds and cumin seeds at Whole Foods. For the curry pata, you will probably need to make a trip to a specialty Indian/Pakistani grocery store. Side note: Even without the curry pata, it's delicious.
Boil the potatoes till soft. Peel and cube them. Gently toss them in a bowl with salt and red chili flakes. Set aside as you start getting the tadka (spice tempering) ready.
In a large wok, heat 2 tbsp of oil and on medium heat, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry pata and the dried chilies (in that order). Fry till they change color but make sure they don't burn.
Add in the turmeric powder and cumin powder, and fry for a few seconds in the tempered spices.
Gradually add the potatoes, coating them in the spices for about 5 - 7 minutes.
Take the wok off heat, and add 4-5 tablespoons of whipped yogurt to the potatoes, gently coating them in the mixture.
Serve with chapati/naan.