A few months back I was flipping through the pages of an old diary, when I stumbled across the recipe for tadka dahi aloo (tadka means tempering, dahi is hindi for yogurt and aloo is potato). With that came rushing the memories of my mother who had dictated me this recipe while she was bed ridden and fighting a nasty and futile battle against cancer. There were a few recipes, she told me, that I should document since my father loved them and she wanted me to learn them for him. The other recipes were Chhitt, a very typical and rustic Punjabi winter dish and Khatte wala Saag which is a spinach kadhi made using buttermilk, both, my dad’s favorites. For me it was another glimpse into the beautiful loving relationship my parents shared. My heart ached for them and also seeing her life ebbing away day by day, my father crying silent tears. Interestingly it was her love, strength and courage that kept us all going.
After a long time, I decided to make this curry. I felt close to her again and at the same time missed her beyond words. It was as if a barrage of painful memories had opened and it tossed me around violently. In my emotional upheaval state, I goofed up the recipe and ended up with curdled yogurt. I was highly disappointed with myself. I tried to bring forth my happy times with her and that helped calm me down and I gave it another go and I did do justice to it this time. It turned out creamy, slightly tangy and a subtly aromatic curry. It was perfect with piping hot and buttery parantha (fried Indian flatbread) And I felt confident and ready to share the recipe here 😊 For me this is one of the most cherished comfort food from my repertoire.
¾ C Yogurt (mine is always somewhat thick, homemade yogurt)
¼ C Milk
1 tbsp Desi Ghee
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Whole Dry Red Chilies (spit in two)
2 Bay Leaves
¼ C finely chopped Onions (omit if you want to make it for Navratri fasting)
1 tsp finely chopped Ginger
2 Green Chilies, finely chopped (adjust heat as per size and kind of chili you use)
¼ – ½ tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
1 tsp Coriander Powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala
¼ – ½ C Water (adjust to desired consistency)
½ tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
2 tbsp finely chopped Fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
Once done, cool and peel them. Set aside.
Whisk the yogurt with milk till smooth and set aside.
Heat a cooking pot and add ghee to it. Add cumin seeds, whole red chilies and bay leaves. Once cumin seeds begin to crackle, add finely chopped onions, green chilies and ginger. Stir and fry till the onions become light golden brown and ginger is aromatic.
Reduce the heat and add red chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala. Stir well. Switch off the heat and remove the cooking pot from heat. Set it aside for half a minute and then add boiled potatoes to it. Stir it well for 10 – 15 seconds.
Now very slowly and little by little, add and whisk the yogurt to the potatoes and incorporate it well. This procedure has to be slow and with gradual addition of yogurt so as to prevent the yogurt from curdling since heat can curdle it really easy and quick. Patience is the key here.
Once all yogurt has been incorporated, place the cooking pot again on low heat. Add one fourth cup of water (I used half a cup since the curry thickens when it sits) and stirring continuously, cook for at least five minutes.
Add salt and cook further for five more minutes, stirring often. It is very important to stir it often to prevent yogurt from curdling. (adjust the cooking time as this point, depending upon on how much water you used and also how thick or thin you want the consistency of the curry)
Once done, switch off the heat and stir in a table spoon of coriander. Transfer the contents to the serving bowl and garnish with rest of the coriander. Serve hot with parantha, chapati or rice. (We prefer having it with parantha)
Serves – 3
Note – I prefer the curry to sit for at least for an hour, for the flavours to steep and the consistency to adjust itself, before serving it. Reheat and serve hot. Also adjust the consistency of the curry to the desired level by adding more water if you prefer it thinner.
Note – Feel free to omit using onions and make this curry for Hindu fasting festival of Navratri