East Indian Roots: Aloo Chokha (Part II - Recipe Inside)
I have made this dish twice in the last two weeks! In fact, I just got done eating a plate before finalizing this post.
To the James and Taylor side of my family, this dish is simply known as Chokha, or Potato Chokha.
As a simple internet search would reveal, and as is common knowledge in my family, there are many chokha variations (eg. instead of a potato base it could be pumpkin or tomatoes, etc.)
As I traced the history of this particular version (detailed in Part I) I found that the entire name is actually Aloo ka Chokha, and it originates from Bihar, India.
Aloo is a Bengali word that translates in English to mean "mash."
This is a vegetarian, vegan, Daniel-fast friendly dish that is simply delicious!
It's filling on it's own, but you could also pair it with steak, Jamaican fried dumpling, plain rice, roti (or naan bread), and maybe even as a dip for chips. (Haven't tested that last suggestion out yet but honestly I don't see why not!)
Aloo ka Chokha
Potatoes - peeled and quartered (I used 2 large, 2 medium, and 4 small)
1 medium Onion - diced
4 small Tomatoes - diced (I used Roma tomatoes)
*Cumin Powder - a pinch (to taste)
*Red Chili Powder - a pinch (to taste)
*Ground Ginger - a pinch (to taste)
*Ground Mustard - a pinch (to taste)
Garlic - 4 cloves - diced
4 stalks Scallion (green onion) - chopped
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
*Ingredients are optional and original family recipe does not include those extra seasonings.
1. Put a large pot of water on the stove. Turn the stove on high and wait for the water to boil. (If you haven't peeled the potatoes, then peel them now while you wait.)
2. Add peeled and quartered potatoes to the boiling water. (Set timer for 25 minutes.)
3. While potatoes boil, chop up your scallion, tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Set aside. (If you already have everything chopped and diced, skip to to STEP 4.)
4. In a medium sauce pan, heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, turn the stove down to medium low and season the oil with the spices—cumin, red chili powder, ground ginger, and ground mustard.
5. Add Scallion, tomatoes, garlic, and onion to the seasoned olive oil. Sauté until tomatoes are soft and onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to simmer.
6. Meanwhile, return to the potatoes and drain the water. Mash the potatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Combine the season mixture with the mashed potatoes and mix until all the potatoes have been coated.
- All the optional spices aren't used in the original recipe handed down to me by my dad. However, I found that in Bihari households those spices are included, so I added them to make it as traditional and authentic as possible.
- You can eliminate the ground mustard and replace the olive oil with mustard oil
- The consistency is totally up to you! The consistency will depend on how long you boil the potatoes, how much of the seasoning mixture you make, and how long you allow the mixture to simmer and spring water. Traditionally, Chokha is very moist, almost wet, like a paste. However, you can make it more fluffy and less "wet" if you desire.
- If you're eating it as a main dish or pairing it with steak, I suggest keeping it fluffy. But if you're going to mix it with rice, use it as a dip for fried dumpling or chips or roti then keep it moist.
If you love potatoes, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, you'll fall in love with this traditional Bihari dish.
Test it out for yourself and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!