I almost wanted to name this post as “Food and memories” ! This for me is less of a recipe post and more of an inspired writing/creation ! Food, the way I have come to perceive is never been “just” to satiate hunger. It is a life nourisher, comfort provider and connects dots paving way into memory lanes. I tend to get drawn to people who have similar thought process and was fortunate enough to make one such long distance friend, Lakshmi. She and I have spent hours discussing our food memories and in one such chat sessions, she spoke about the “protagonist” of this post – Nei mittai kadai, Kizhangu pottalam. I was intrigued. Kizhangu transaltes to tuber and pottalam means a parcel. Yes, a simple spiced potato mash evoked such curiosity. To top it off, she shared this blog link-
Here, the blogger, Suresh, shares a very heart warming account of his food memory – his early years in Madurai and his experience of eating the kizhangu (potato mash) from Madurai’s famous Nei mittai kadai/shop. A humble little sweet shop selling some of the most delicious desserts, freshly churned out day in and day out. I was literally transported to Madurai through this post and vicariously lived through his memory and the taste of the Kizhangu pottalam. I could almost sense (in my imagination) the unique smell of hot spicy potatoes wrapped in mandarai elai (dry leaves ) ! I wanted to re-create it immediately and started researching about the recipe. Even though there were a bunch of recipes available online, I could not really verify their authenticity. Then I happened to watch a youtube video, a Madurai food round-up by Rakesh Raghunath of Puliyogare travels. Even though the video did not cover the actual recipe, it did give a huge hint, where the owner revealed that the kizhangu masala needed 16 ingredients. I took inputs from some friends from Madurai (who could not bear my badgering) and was able to re-create the dish.
As you all know by now, pressure cooker is my friend and have used it to make this dish with minimum usage of water to avoid flavor loss. As there are multiple steps involved, this dish loses the tag of “One Pot One Shot”.
Let’s get on to making this spicy “kizhangu” pottalam, shall we?
*Drum Rolls* as we draw the curtain to reveal the 16 ingredients required to make this dish –
We will be using 250 grams of potatoes and 100 grams of Onions. This potato to onion ratio of 1/4 kg to 100 grams is to be maintained. Make sure to chop the onions really fine. I used a food processor to chop it fine. If you dont have one, I would recommend using a carrot grater to get fine pieces.
Take a 2 liter pressure cooker, and add 6 teaspoons of sesame oil and wait for it to heat up. Sesame oil is highly recommended to make this dish. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and wait for it to splutter. Now, add a pinch of hing, 1 teaspoon each of fennel (saunf/soombu) seeds and sesame (black) seeds and saute briefly. Now, add finely chopped garlic, ginger and green chilies. We will need 5 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1/4 inch of ginger finely chopped and 2 green chilies. Once you smell the garlic roasting and see it turning light brown, add the onions. The onions need to be sauteed until brown. Once they turn golden brown, switch off the flame and add the curry leaves.
Now, add 1/4 cup of water – this way we will be able to lift all of the flavors nicely and also add just the required amount of moisture to cook the potatoes. Layer 250 grams of diced potatoes. Make sure to spread it evenly to ensure uniform cooking. Next, we will need to layer the dry powders – 3 teaspoons of gram flour (for binding), 2 teaspoons of red chili powder(I used kashmiri chili for color), 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1.5 teaspoons of salt. A note on the spice levels – this dish is meant to be spicy. However, if you want to scale down, please adjust the red chili powder to 1 teaspoon and chose to omit the green chilies.
Close the pressure cooker and put it on high flame (1100 w on induction) and cook for 3 whistles. Switch off after 3 whistles and wait for the pressure to settle. Now open the pressure cooker – you will notice that the potato is cooked very softly. Add finely chopped coriander leaves. Next, with the help of a potato masher, mash all of the ingredients and bring them together. You can also use the back of a tumbler or a small cup to mash just like I have shown in the video. And lo ! our kizhangu masala is ready !
This dish goes best with rice dishes especially curd rice. Hope you enjoy the recipe video