The Vegetarian

Potatoes - fried in sambal ("ala thel dala")

- Sri Lanka

500g Potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
3 large brown onions - sliced.
handful of curry leaves
dry red chili flakes or paprika according to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
+/- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
+/- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
+/-1 teaspoon ground cardamom
+/-5 cloves
tamarind pulp diluted in some water (or lemon juice 1 tablespoon)
salt to taste

Peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch size cubes. Boil the potatoes, with a teaspoon of salt, until just soft and drain the liquid. Set aside.

In a non-stick wok, place the oil, onions and curry leaves and fry on medium heat while continuously stirring until the onions brown.

Add the turmeric, chili (or paprika if you cannot stand so much heat) until the mixture has a golden red colour. Consider adding cumin, coriander, cardamom and cloves - however, these are not absolutely necessary.

Add the boiled potatoes to the mixture and continue to stir until the potatoes are coated in the mixture and re-heated throughout.

Add salt and tamarind pulp (or lemon juice)- a little at a time and taste test. The amount of tamarind depends on the variety you have, so add a little at a time and taste test until you can just taste the sourness. Lemon juice is easier, 1 tablespoon should be adequate. Do not overdo it. Add salt to taste.

This dish can be served with rice, or with Indian style breads - roti, naan etc.

 White Potato Curry

-Sri Lanka

500g Potatoes
1 brown onion - sliced.
1 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds - dry toasted beforehand if possible.
1 stick of cinnamon broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons of curry powder (or use mix of cumin and coriander)
1 ripe tomato - cut into small wedges
half a handful of curry leaves
4 fresh green chillies, sliced.
2 tablespoons of coconut milk
salt to taste

Peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Boil in a pot with enough water to just cover the potatoes, adding the onion, fenugreek, cinnamon, turmeric and curry powder while the potatoes are boiling. Also add a teaspoon of salt so that the potatoes soak it in while boiling.

When the potatoes are just softening - test by breaking one apart with your spoon in the pot - add the tomato and add salt according to taste. When the tomato starts to break up turn the heat off and add the curry leaves, green chili, and coconut milk. Taste test and add more salt if necessary.

Eat with rice, or with bread.

Note: Adding a few boiled eggs at the end of cooking is a great variation... give the eggs some time sitting in the gravy with the potatoes to soak up flavour before serving.

 Aloo Dam

-Indian style

non-stick wok with a lid

1 tablespoon oil
500g of potatoes - washed, peeled, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 onion - finely sliced
1 inch of ginger - either grated, or sliced and pulverised with mortar and pestle.
2 cloves of garlic - peeled and pulverised with the ginger.
1 cinnamon stick (or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
+/- 3 whole cardamom pods crushed
+/- 5 cloves
2 green chillies
2 teaspoons ground coriander
+/-1 teaspoon ground fennel (or whole seeds)
400g tin of diced tomatoes
handful of fresh coriander leaves- broken up by hand

In a non-stick wok use a tablespoon of oil to fry the onions, ginger, garlic, turmeric, spices, and green chilli until the onions are starting to brown. Add the potatoes and continue to fry, stirring continuously, until the potatoes are browned on all sides, and coated in the other ingredients. (You may need to add some more oil if the potatoes start to stick to the wok)

Add the tin of tomatoes, and chilli powder, and a teaspoon of salt, continue to stir and fry until the tomatoes are starting to dissolve.

Add some water to just cover the potatoes and simmer with the lid on until the potatoes are starting to soften. Then simmer with the lid off until the gravy thickens, stirring often to prevent the bottom burning. Taste test and add more salt if necessary.

Remove from the heat and add the fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with rice or Indian breads.

Note: This dish also works well with the addition of some pre-boiled eggs - these will need to be pricked or have cuts made to absorb the flavour.

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