On my flight back from New Delhi last week, I had all the booty in a carry bag that comprised my hand baggage, quite forgetful of the possibility that none of it would make it through security.
"What do you have in there? Some masalas?" frowned one of the assistants at the scanner, and I nodded anxiously. "Wait a minute, my colleague will have a look," he said. The colleague came over and inspected each and every packet, his expression deepening from let's-get-this-over-with to curiosity to mystification. When he asked me what they were, I told him most of them were "grains and spices from Uttarakhand", indigenous ones that I had picked up the previous day at Dilli Haat, as well as some stuff that I'd picked up from a shop in INA Market, a recommendation that Raaga passed on to me from Anita. By now, he was trying hard to hide his smiles, and said he would let everything go through, except the Kashmiri chilli powder. It's not as if I don't get it where I live, but considering that it was probably a more 'ethnic' version than the branded, supermarket variety, I opted to go back and check that bag in too!
It's from that stash that the main attractions in today's dish come. One is jakhya (right, in pic) and the other is chayab (left), but there seems to be no reference whatsoever to it on the Net, and only a little on the former. Jakhya's botanical name is Cleome viscose, as I found out here, and it's used as a spice. Last week, I used it along with chayab as tempering for daal, and it had this most interesting crunch, while the chayab tasted like the deep-fried onions that one usually comes across in biriyanis but I wanted to use them in a simple dish for the real test of their flavour.
Chayab is a dried herb, at least, it's a leaf of some sort. It has no particular smell other than that of 'dry' or even straw, but when used as tempering, it acquires some character and a taste that I can't yet describe. Definitely not deep-fried onion, though. The people who sold me these spices at Dilli Haat told me I could use them for tadka, and so that's what I've done, though neither they nor I had the time to go into details of which vegetable or other foodstuffs they go well with.
If you have more information on these spices, please tell me.
Baby potatoes, quartered: 225 gm
Mustard oil: 1-2 tsp
Jakhya: 2 tsp
Chayab: A pinch or two
Salt: to taste
Red chilli powder: 1/2-1 tsp
Turmeric: A pinch
Heat mustard oil, temper with jakhya and chayab, in that order.
Add the potatoes, the seasoning, mix well, sprinkle some water, cover and cook on a very low flame till the potatoes are done.
This goes off to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being organised by Haalo for creator Kalyn, and is being hosted this week by Heather at Diary of a Fanatic Foodie.
Weekend Herb Blogging Uttarakhand Jakhya Potatoes Chayab Humour Travel Dilli Haat