If there is a quintessential UP breakfast, it is Aloo-Puri.
Jalebi and dahi, khasta and samosa, makkhan malai is all good but one cannot eat any of it regularly, plus you cannot make them at home. And so aloo puri. Sometimes kaddu too. The aloo sabzi is lightest ever, the kaddu or pumpkin is cooked with red chilli, dry mango powder, and sugar and puris are plain and simple flour and water.
The aloo puri of each family and each home is different from another. The differences are subtle — some add green chilies, others use chili powder, some add asafoetida, some do not, some use chopped tomatoes, some use a paste; some use dry spices, some add no spice at all. If you are new to poori-aloo, you may not even notice the difference, but it is these differences that make one person’s aloo puri better than the others — Maa ke haath ka khana, anyone?
The fluffy and airy puris are used like a spoon to scoop up a piece of the dry kaddu sabzi and then dunked in the aloo ka rasa before being deposited in the mouth. The steps have to be performed in quick succession lest the food gets cold. But then this comes as natural to us up walas as breathing, especially on a chilly morning, when both your fingers and your mouth can do with some heat.
My vesion of the aloo-puri is slightly different from my mothers. While she makes the gravy thinner, almost watery, mine is slightly thicker. She does not use green chillies, I do. And hing (asafoetida) too. And yet hers is always better.
This however is my recipe, promise to get you hers too.
Ingredients for the curry:
Boiled potatoes (new) small: 10-12
Tomatoes (desi): 4-5
Green Chiili Split: 2-3 (you can increase if you want it hotter)
Asafoetida: 1 fat pinch
Turmeric: 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
Oil: 1 teaspoon
Salt: to taste
Red Chiili Powder: to taste
Coriander leaves and stems: chopped
Boil the potatoes in a pressure cooker, peel and keep aside.
Chop the tomatoes and puree them in a blender, keep aside.
In a pressure cooker, add 1 teaspoon oil, let it heat, add cumin seeds. As soon as the cumin starts to change colour, add the asafoetida and green chilies. Add tomato paste quickly. Be careful not to burn the cumin/asafoetida. Stir. Add turmeric, red chili powder and stir till tomato is cooked (2-3 mins).
Break the boiled potatoes with your hards — this is the most important part — and add them to the cooker. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Add 2-3 cups of water, or enough to cover the potatoes.
Add salt. Stir and close the cooker.
Let it stream for 10 mins and turn off. Do not open till the pressure is released on it own.
Add chopped coriander (stem and leaves) and serve with puris.