For the record, I am not at all familiar with Nepalese cooking. Or, as it is called these days, Nepali cooking. But I did come across this one recipe from that repertoire that simply enthralled me. That is Aloo Ko Achar. Nepali cooking is a time honored Middle Asian cuisine. And, admittedly, not most of us are ignorant of it, myself included. But when I came across this gem, I was hooked.
Aloo Ko Achar (or Aaloo Ko Achar/ Aalu Ko Achar) is a popular Nepali dish that is normally served as an appetizer or with a main course. I've discover, as many have others, that it makes a great vegetarian meal. It's mainly a spicy potato salad. In some versions it's pickled potatoes, inclusive of asafoetida powder (heeng) to give it that extra tang. In other variations, cucumber is added to make it a spicy-cucumber potato salad. I decided to experiment by adding onions and tomatoes to it, and the result is the recipe given below. To purists, it may not be a true Aloo Ko Achar, but to my palate it's a great vegetarian dish which (sacrilege!) can be served over steamed white rice for a great veggie dinner.
ALOO KO ACHAR (my version)
3 large potatoes
1/2 cup sesame seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (found in Asian, Indian, or other food markets)
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (optional, unless you want it real spicy)
Salt to taste
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
2 large tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (about 1/4 cup)
1. Cut potatoes into cubes and boil until tender. If organic, do not peel.
2. In a medium pan or skillet (I use cast-iron), roast sesame seeds unto they turn light brown and start to crackle and pop (just like the cereal). Place in a small dish or cup and set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add fenugreek seeds and cook until seeds turn dark brown (2-3 minutes).
4. Add green chilies and stir fry for about 20 seconds.
5. Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, red chili powder (if using), sesame seeds, and salt. Lower heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
6. Add onion, potatoes, tomatoes, and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
7. Add lime juice and mix to combine.
8. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.
Yield 4 or more servings.