I first came across this one when we had been out at a restaurant having an Indian Buffet, Gujarati to be precise. In fact most of the items on the menu even apart from the Buffet, such as the South Indian dishes (Dosa, Idli, Wada with the chutney & sambhar), North Indian Dishes (The Paneer, the Aloo-Matar etc), the Indo Chinese(Hakka Noodles, schezuan rice ) etc all have a very strong Gujarati influence.
But we keep going there every now & then, for the buffet. In fact whenever we go there, its only for the buffet. It does have some fusion kind of dishes such as Paneer Chilli, individual portions of Pizza, french fries etc but otherwise you get to have a perfect Gujarati Thali – Kadi, dal, 3-4 bhaji (both dry & gravy), poori/roti, rice, salad and most importantly the chat items (bhelpuri, samosa chat etc). Actually to be very honest its the chat items that beckon us even though the items in the buffet are always the same & we do tend to get bored of having the same things every time.
To come back to the recipe of this post, it was a good change to see this one on the menu when we had been there 2 weeks back. It was called ‘Farali Bhaji’ (fit to be had when fasting) and I took a spoonful only because it was potatoes and little S likes potatoes (of course I like it too) and this one looked like it wasn't very spicy either, in fact it looked very bland to me. I started giving S some poori with this bhaji & she seemed to like it a lot. Mid way through the lunch, I tasted it & was surprised to find it very tasty, in a very simple way I must add. I tried to think about what all went into it & could only come up with cumin, salt, pepper & the peanuts apart from the potatoes of course. I remember wondering how such a simple dish with minimal ingredients can taste so well. I then had 2 more helpings of the same after that.
I had also decided to recreate it in my kitchen there & then, seeing that S had liked it so much. Then when I actually set to make it I realised what was different about the bhaji & give it that unique taste. The tempering was supposed to be done in Ghee (Clarified Butter) and not oil. This was something very obvious which I should have realised earlier because most of the Upvaas (fasting) items are cooked in ghee and not oil. This is very quick to make & if you have boiled potatoes it takes not mare than 5-7 minutes for it to be ready.
Farali Batata Bhaji
- 3 Medium sized potatoes, boiled & peeled
- a handful of Peanuts (about2-3 tblsp)
- 2 tblsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 4-6 Curry Leaves
Roughly mash the potatoes and keep aside.
Heat the ghee in a pan & when its hot add the cumin seeds. As the cumin seeds start to sizzle add the curry leaves & peanuts.
Stir & fry till the peanuts get a little coloured. Now add the boiled potatoes, salt & pepper.
Mix thoroughly, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring in between.
Thats it! Serve hot with Roti/Poori.
My Notes: The restaurant Bhaji used a lot more ghee, in fact you could see the ghee in the bhaji, but I have reduced the amount here. Increasing it would have achieved exactly the same taste as in the restaurant, I am sure. Also please don't add any coriander leaves or other such garnish, it will make a huge difference to the taste.