“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” ― Paulo Coelho
The best things in life are simple. No fuss, straight from the heart they attract attention because they’re uncomplicated. Like a warm fuzzy blanket, they give comfort and like a friend always available, you can reach out to them easily. A walk in the park, sharing a plate of papdi chaat with a friend, a dance in the rain is all so simple, yet leaves wonderful memories.
I remember during my college days, sometimes I would take a bus to Connaught Place. Getting off at Shankar market bus stop, I would walk all the way to Babbar Lane where one of my close friends lived. Unlike today where everyone has to be informed before visiting, we could drop into each other’s homes unannounced. It was taken for granted that we would be welcomed and something would always be made in a jiffy in case we were hungry. This was usually the case since I would land up around 3 pm. Aunty would hug me tight the minute she opened the door. She would then hurry to the kitchen and return with nimbu paani. Even though sometimes I insisted on a coke she would deny it. “This will cool you down and replenish the lost fluids. Look how hot it is outside and how much you’re sweating. No coke- shoke.That’s bad for health.” She would scurry back to the kitchen again. While we girls chatted nineteen to a dozen, the clamor of pans could be heard in the kitchen. In a while, she would enter the room with food on a tray. It didn’t matter if it was a simple dal chawal with ghee tadka, matar pulao or egg curry with paratha. For me, it was the best meal.
If there was one thing she made so well, it was Khatte Masale Aloo ( Spicy Tangy Potatoes ). Boiled potatoes cut in big cubes were shallow fried in one pan. In another, she would heat minced ginger-garlic, grated tomatoes, and onions. As soon as it started sizzling she would add salt, red chili powder and a big heap of chole powder. Finally, water was added so that the masalas got cooked in the liquid. Once the gravy thickened, she would add the potatoes in this pan and toss them gently so that the masala covered each cube well. A squeeze of lemon juice and a garnish of chopped coriander made this a stellar dish. She would serve this with ghee soaked parathas and aam ka achaar. Man! This was the ultimate comfort food. No fancy dish in a Michelin star restaurant could compete with it.
The Khatte Masale Aloo is still my favorite and it’s easy peasy to make. It goes well as a side dish with chole bhature or can be had with paratha, roti, and dal. Sometimes I cut the potatoes into smaller cubes or use baby potatoes instead and serve them as snacks for guests to enjoy them with their drinks. They’re especially loved by vegetarians who are pretty tired of paneer tikka that is served to them nearly all the time. To make it spicier add mango powder, lemon juice or Mirchi -pudina chutney.
Which way would you enjoy this dish – as a snack, appetizer, or side dish or main dish?