Rajgharia’s Azzurro Bar and Kitchen in Saket is popular for its pizzas. But Rajgharia remains fond of the simple potato. “I was a vegetarian till I was 20 and the spud was an important part of my diet,” the Cordon Bleu chef recalls, “and god bless the man who first threw a potato into a deep fryer!”
Rajgharia’s oven-baked mashed potato
6 large potatoes
4 tbsp butter
Half a cup of milk
2 egg yolks
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water till tender. Drain the water, dry the potatoes, remove skin and mash. While mashing, slowly add milk, butter, salt and pepper and peeled garlic. Then add both the egg yolks and mix again till smooth.
Bake the mashed potatoes in an oven till the outside is just crisp. The yolks give the potatoes a bright yellow colour and that wonderful, crisp covering.
One of Mumbai’s top chefs, Shek is not a huge consumer of aloo except for one little derivative: “Our potato skins are extremely popular and I end up having a lot of potato flesh lying around!” His Mediterranean menus use little potato but Shek has devised a great way to use all that excess aloo: his exquisite potato flatbread.
Shek’s potato flatbread
7g fresh yeast
½ tsp salt
1 cup boiled grated potato
Water to make a soft dough
Sesame seeds for garnish
Mix all the ingredients except the oil and prepare a soft pliable dough. Knead for about 6 minutes and then add in the oil towards the end of the kneading process.
Thorough bread: Shek uses his leftover potato mash for baking.
Rest the dough for 35-40 minutes, covered, till it doubles in volume. Make small balls of about 100g each.
Roll out each ball into a 0.25-inch flat disc. Cover and leave for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle sesame seeds. Place in a hot oven and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 6 minutes on each side. Cool on a wire rack.
The Vista coffee shop at Taj Lands End in Mumbai is a popular haunt for weekend brunch enthusiasts. Chef Taneja believes that it would be almost impossible to think of his famous buffet without the humble potato. “We use around 150 kg of potato a day at Vista and use it for everything from stews to binding together mutton curry. Most main courses go with some sort of potato on the side.” At home, Taneja likes to whip up a nice aloo jeera or aloo methi; “even if you run out of everything else, there’s always a little aloo and onion lying around!”
Taneja’s truffle oil scented potato and ricotta tart with young spinach, steamed asparagus and cherry tomato confit
200g potato mash
40g refined flour
20g ricotta cheese
2ml truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
20 small spinach leaves
10 stalks of asparagus
60ml extra virgin olive oil
15 cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic
5g chopped flat leaf parsley
Make a thick batter by mixing potato, refined flour, eggs and salt. Mix riccotta cheese and chopped parsley with truffle oil. Grease a muffin mould and layer with the potato mix and cheese filling. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes and demould.
Pre-heat oven to 130 degrees Celsius. Spread tomatoes and garlic out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with thyme, a large pinch of salt and pepper grinds. Bake until tomatoes are wrinkled (about 45 minutes). Transfer tomato pan to a rack to cool. Discard garlic. Present the potato tart in the centre of the plate with steamed asparagus, sauteed spinach and cherry tomato confit.
Dalmia’s love for the potato is apparent by the number of potato dishes in her new menu at Diva, Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi. “You can make a basic recipe or something totally exquisite,” she says, such as the mashed potato with truffle, and potato cooked in champagne, on her menu. Don’t even ask her to imagine a world without the potato: “It would be a world crisis.”
Dalmia’s basic gnocchi
50g Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Wrap the potatoes in foil and bake in oven for about 40 minutes till tender, and then grate them. Add two generous pinches of salt and a pinch of pepper.
Crack the egg and stir in quickly. Add two handfuls of the flour, and the Parmesan. Mix until it’s all absorbed. Turn the potato mix on to a clean surface and tip the rest of the flour on top. Use your hands to mix it together.
Knead lightly. When it reaches a pliable consistency, it’s ready. Sprinkle the surface with flour. Slice small size pieces from the dough ball and roll out into lengths that are about an inch thick.
Use a flexible knife to cut off small pieces of about three-fourths of an inch. Repeat until you have used all of the dough. Place the gnocchi onto a tray that has been dusted with some flour. Leave space between pieces to prevent them from sticking together. Boil the gnocchi in salted water.
When it comes up to the surface, it’s ready to serve. Scoop out with a sieve, shake off the water and transfer to a tray. Add a little oil.
(Sidin Vadukut and Rachana Nakra)