A very popular weekend brunch in our home when I was a child was luchi-alur torkari. Luchis are a Bengali relative of puris, a type of fried bread; where puris are made with whole wheat flour (aata), luchis are made with white flour (maida). They’re also typically smaller. Torkari is a term for a style of preparation of vegetables—usually with a thinner gravy. Alur-torkari = torkari made with alu (potatoes). There is more than one way to make a torkari with any vegetable; this particular version is with a thin soupy gravy and very few spices. The flavours here are of the Bengali panch phoron (five seed) mix which infuse into the tomato gravy in which the potatoes cook. This dish is very much a taste of childhood for me. I’ve been known to eat it directly out of a bowl with a spoon.
- 1.5 lbs potatoes, diced
- 1/2 large onion, minced
- 1 tblspn freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 tspn panch phoron
- 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 1/4-1/2 tspn red chilli powder
- 2-3 Thai chillies, slit
- 2 cups water
- Dhania/Cilantro for garnish.
- Heat about a tblspn of oil in a karhai or wok or similar over medium heat and add the panch phoron.
- As the seeds begin to sizzle add the onions and saute till beginning to brown.
- Add the ginger, mix and saute for another minute.
- Add the powdered spices, salt and the potatoes and saute for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and saute till cooked down.
- Add the water and chillies, mix, cover and cook over low heat till done.
- Garnish with a little chopped cilantro.
- Panch phoron is easily found in South Asian grocery stores or even Amazon (affiliate link). If you have none on hand just use cumin.
- I don’t bother peeling potatoes, but you can if you like.
- How thick or thin you make the gravy is up to you but it should be easily pourable.
- Similarly, adjust the heat up or down to your liking but don’t make it either too hot or entirely mild. There should be at least a bit of heat to offset the tomatoes.
- If, like me, you do not make luchis you can enjoy this just as well with chapatis and parathas or with rice. It makes a good side dish for a meal of mushoor dal and rice.