Monday, March 5, 2012

Potato cakes - Aloo tikkis

Aloo tikkis are a very popular appetizer in Indian homes. They are smashed potato cakes flavored with herbs and spices and pan fried or sometimes deep fried. Most aloo tikki recipes contain chopped red onions, cilantro, cumin, garam masala, green chilis or chili powder. I like to flavor mine with ajwain in addition to some of these mix-ins. That is what makes these little cakes different from the usual aloo tikkis.

Ajwain looks like celery seed and tastes a lot like thyme. I use it with okra, potatoes, cauliflower, paneer and almost anything else that I can pair it up with. It is a versatile spice and imparts a slightly bitter pungent flavor - doesn't sound good, but it makes the food taste great.

I cook my tikkis on a heavy non-stick griddle over low heat for a slightly longer period of time than it would take to pan fry them and it yields a nice low fat tikki with a crisp brown exterior and a soft interior.

Aloo tikkis with ajwain

5 medium russet potatoes (I used the leftover flesh from baked potatoes after I used the skins for making potato skins) OR 4 medium russet potatoes, boiled and peeled
¾ teaspoon ajwain seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil

  1. Mash the potatoes so that they are not lumpy. Add the chopped red onion, salt, chopped cilantro, garam masala, ajwain, and amchur and mix well ensuring that there are some pockets with spices and others are bland.
  2. Shape them into little cakes which are about 2 inches in diameter and about less than ¼ inch thick. If the cakes are thick, they will take longer to cook and it is best to pan fry them. But if they are thin, then cooking them on a non-stick griddle will yield nice crisp tikkis. Refrigerate the shaped cakes for 1 to 2 hours to firm them up since we are not using any other add-in to bind them.
  3. Heat a 12 inch non-stick griddle with 2 tablespoons of canola oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the tikkis in one layer. Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes on each side till they are brown and crisp.
  4. Serve with tomato ketchup or spicy green chutney.
Makes 8 to 10 tikkis

Green chutney

2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 – 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno peppers, seeds removed
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar

Blend all of these ingredients together to form a paste.

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