The spud and the dud

The spud and the dud

They're a historic pair, the potato and the puri. If only they'd learn to get along better
"You're a nothing!" said the potato to the puri. "A cipher."
The puri sank a little lower into his plate, and a little steam escaped from a crack.
You’ve seen the puri — or maybe not. Imagine a tortilla rolled really thin and fried till it puffs up like a soccer ball. It’s a staple of Indian cooking, though laid low in recent times by rising cholesterol-consciousness. The quickest meal at any Indian eaterie is hot puri with a dish conjured up with potatoes, alu bhaji.
This was certainly not the first time the crude thought had been put to the puri that he had a serious personality defect. And as usual, the remark came again from his constant companion, the insufferable boiled potato.
But it was true. The puri was almost unbearably fat. Just a few minutes in the heat had done it to to him: turned him a warm golden brown. A clear liquid, definitely oil, dripped off his sides and gathered in a pool. You felt like poking a finger into him, and allowing the pent-up stuff to escape. With a hiss.
"It is my deeply held belief that you are the ugliest and most arrogant thing that ever grew under the mud," spat out the puri, with whatever dignity he could muster. It is not easy to look respectable while steam is escaping from a crack in your hull.
The puri and the potato are (appearances to the contrary) actually old friends locked in a complex relationship, which works sometimes and fails at ...

C Y Gopinath


  1. 3 potatoes Medium-sized ,
  2. 2 Red onions ,
  3. 1 inch Ginger ,
  4. 2 Green chillies ,
  5. 1 sprig Curry leaves ,
  6. 2 sprigs coriander leaves Fresh ,
  7. 1 Lime ,
  8. 1 tsp Chick pea rice flour potato powder, or starch,
  9. 1 tsp black gram Split (urad dal),
  10. 1/2 tsp mustard Black ,
  11. 1/4 tsp Turmeric ,
  12. 500 ml water Hot ,
  13. 2 tbsps Peanut olive oil or ,
  14. to taste Salt ,


20 mins
  1. Add Photo

    Peel the onions and cut them in two pieces. Slice them into slices about 3-4 mm thick.

  2. Add Photo

    Cut each tomato into 6 wedges. 

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    Chop the ginger and green chillies finely.

  4. Add Photo

    Shred the curry leaves with your fingers.

  5. Add Photo

    Cut a line across the middle of the potatoes and set them to boil. When they are cooked, slip the skin off, let them cool, and mash them with your fingers. The result should be lumpy. Remember that they will disintegrate a little more while cooking later.

  6. Add Photo

    While the potatoes are boiling, add a tablespoon of water to the chick pea flour (besan in India) and dissolve it into a smooth paste. This will be used for thickening the dish. Note: If chick pea flour is unavailable, use rice flour or potato starch.

  7. Change

    Heat the oil, and when it is smoking, throw in the mustard seeds. When they begin spluttering, lower the heat and add the split black gram. When they start turning pink, add the onions, ginger and chillies. Cook on low heat till the onions soften and become translucent.

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    Add the tomatoes, and cook for a a couple of minutes more.

  9. Add Photo

    Add the mashed potatoes, turmeric, salt, and hot water, stir and then leave to cook uncovered on medium heat until the water has evaporated and the gravy thickened somewhat. 

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