Sunday, May 13, 2012

Potatoes and Caramelised Leeks with Paanch Phoron and Hing

Paanch Phoron and Hing are a classical combination of spices that show-up in numerous vegetable dishes from eastern India. I’ve recently started pairing them with more western vegetables to startlingly good results. This recipe transgresses further from orthodox Bengali vegetarian dishes, which are cooked without onions or garlic (the traditional base for most meat and poultry curries), by introducing leeks—a mild and delicate member of the onion family— to the mix. The caramelised strands of leek wrap around the potatoes and impart a sweet counterpoint to the pungent note of paanch phoron and hing.

3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
6–8 whole Dried Red Chillis
6 oz [170 gms] Leeks, peeled, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick round slices
1 tbsp Paanch Phoron
½ tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
1½ lbs [700 gms] Potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into eight pieces each
Salt (to taste)
¼ cup boiling Water
  1. Heat 1½ tbsp oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat. When the oil is smoking, add chillis and sauté briskly for 1 min until they are blackened. Remove chillis to a platter with a slotted spoon. 
  2. In the same pan, add the leeks and cook for 7–8 mins over high heat, until golden brown and well caramelized. Remove leeks from pan and set aside on the platter with the chillis. 
  3. Add remaining 1½ tbsp oil to pan and heat till smoking. Add paanch phoron and hing and let sputter for 30 secs. Add potatoes and stir briskly for 2–3 minutes, until the edges take on colour. Add caramelised leeks, blackened chillis, and salt, sprinkle water 2 tbsps at a time, and stir well. Turn heat to low, put a lid on the pan, and cook for 5–7 mins, until the potatoes are fork tender.

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