Monday, October 08, 2007

Herbal Hardsell

I had a couple of those rather desirable Old Mother Hubbard moments this past week when there weren’t too many veggies in the house (rare) and the ones I did have were beginning to rot (common). What I did have fresh were lots of potatoes so I told myself I would make a kofta (dumplings) curry with a tomato gravy (in whisper [rotting tomato gravy]) but come dawn and some fuzzy thinking, I ended up with mashed potato rather than koftas.

However, the surprise lay in the gravy, which I concocted solely to get rid of the tomatoes, coriander and celery I had at home – I expected it to be a mess both to look at and to taste but was pleasantly shocked to find that only one of those doubts turned into reality. This was not attractive to my eye, but think herbs (tres chic, gourmet), green leafy vegetables (healthy) and exotic (the combination), and I had a keeper. I’m also told it looked somewhat like the pav’s bhaji, a suspicion I harboured but couldn’t confirm till an observer told me.

It’s a fulfilling curry and you can even have it by itself if you want to keep away from rice or bread. It takes just one big potato, very little oil and is bursting with health and vitamins, to borrow a phrase.

Here’s how I made it:
One big potato, about 200 gm
Onions, chopped fine: Two
Tomatoes, medium-sized, minced/pureed: Five
Coriander, chopped: 1-1/2 cups, stalks and all
Celery: 2 stalks, with leaves, chopped
Savoury mint chutney, Indian style: 1 tsp (Substitute: 10-12 mint leaves and a spoon of lime juice)
Cumin seed: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Turmeric: ½ tsp
Chilli powder: 1-2 tsp
Oil: 2 tsp or less

Grind celery and coriander with a little water in the mixer to a fine paste. If you’re using fresh mint, add this to the mix. (I used the mint chutney because it was beginning to dry up.)

Peel potato, prick with fork all over, microwave for 3 minutes on either side, with a resting period of 3 minutes in between. Let cool, mash with a pinch of salt and mint chutney.

In a pan, heat the oil, pop the cumin and fry the onions till transparent.

Add the ground paste, fry well.

Add the tomatoes, salt and spices and let them cook to mush. Add a cup or two of water and let it boil down almost to the consistency you want.

So when it’s not quite thick enough, add the mashed potato-mint mixture bit by bit. Be mindful that the potatoes will do their bit to thicken the gravy.
Mix well, simmer till it’s as thick as you want. Remove from heat.

Strangely enough, without the usual additions of ginger and garlic, curry powder/garam masala or other whole spices, this was quite spicy. I wonder why. And the other revelation was the taste of celery – having never used it much before, and much less in curry, the only word I have to describe its taste is “interesting” – I would use it again.

I’m sending this off to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Kalyn herself – it’s the second anniversary round.


  1. Oh, this looks like a a satisfying soup that will your insides when it's chilly outside. Mmmm....

  2. Oops, I guess technically I should have referred to it as a curry. Either way, I'd love a bowl of it right now. :)

  3. Slurp!! Looks great.I am making Pav Bhaji tomorrow for lunch.
    Great entry sra. Have a great Sunday!:)

  4. i love ur intro...actually it looks like a hearty soup...see goof-ups do lead to good things;)

  5. it is not a mess to look at Sra... you are too hard on yourself :)... it sounds like a whole hearty soup to me!

  6. This dish is befitting ode to your blog title, Sra :). The flavor of green chutney must have so refreshing!

  7. so sra looks like your experimention in kitches is going strong, I for some reason cannot stand celery seems too strong for my taste.Pic looks great

  8. simple and nice. I usually make potato fry and rasam if there are no veggies:)

  9. Inetersting recipe without usual masalas as you have coriander and mint chutney's colour in this "herbal hardsell"..

  10. It does look like pav's bhaji, very interesting and that too with celery et al

  11. Sram very interesting recipe. Viji

  12. You've set yourself very high standards I think :) It does look like pavbhaji :)

  13. I would enjoy bowls-full of this.

  14. "Chilli powder: 1-2 tsp" heat has come from there only dear..:)

  15. We all have those moments, Sra :)
    And yeah, celery tastes a little like cilantro, spicy and fresh. That could be the reason you felt the curry felt spicy without actual spices.

  16. hey, it looks pretty good! but celery in pavbhaji, that is a first for me ;)

  17. Susan, a curry is a thick, thick, soup, I suppose :)
    Asha, thanks.
    Rajitha, thanks, yes, lots of proof of that in my blog!
    Sig, you're kind. It is hearty.
    Musica, that's such a nice interpretation!
    Sreelu, tks, the celery was strong, but not too bad.
    Sharmi, yes, simple, nifty meal.
    Raks, thanks.
    Sandeepa, thanks.
    Viji, thanks.
    Jyothsna, yep, very high, even rare moments look like an impossibility.
    Cynthia, it vanished v soon in our house, that's really unusual for us!
    Shn, heh heh, Andhra genes, you must be thinking.
    Nabeela, I have too many of them :(
    Richa, don't think I'd like celery in the actual pav bhaji! ;)

  18. Sra, even I find it very hard to consume those celery stalks in my fridge. Will try to make this Good looking Soup for me!

  19. My favorite ingredient in your meal is the coriander. Yum!


  20. Sra, our family has this stew-ish dish born out of what happened to be in the kitchen one night. It wouldn't make the cover of Vogue, but it was tasty, filling and very healthy. Everyone left the table happy. It happens! : )

  21. Sounds like a hearty soup. It's not cold in Washington, DC yet, but when it is, I know where to turn.

  22. Hi Sra,
    It sounds like your experiment turned out to be a real success! Thanks for helping us celebrate two years of WHB!

  23. Absolutely Yum! Isn't it amazing when a collection of ingredients comes together to make a fabulous flavoursome meal. I love that process.

  24. Padma, Do! have you tried eating them with a dip?
    Paz, I can imagine, your site proclaims that loud and clear :)
    Susan, I know what you mean. Btw, Vogue just launched in India, I mean with Indian content and all that.
    Kelly, thanks for visiting, glad I have something you can use.
    Kalyn, quite successful, thanks. glad to be involved with WHB
    Vegeyum, it is, I must keep experimenting more!

  25. That does look like the pav's bhaji...which mean that it does not look disppointing at all...I wouldn't mind bowls of this.

  26. i would love to hav this with rice...hmmm yummm

  27. Sra,
    thanks for visiting my blog..loved reading herbal hardsell, but couldn't see the photo..:( it is usual with me for blogs uploading using flickr..(it is banned here)recipe itself enough to make me mouthwatering...

  28. Here is my bouquet .... Brick bat I mean! :D
    Yes the curry resembles bhaji made with pav!:)) This getting rid of thing happens in my kitchen too! All are edible, Have to taste good!:))

    My daughter has sent me half dozen dried herbs. I have changed them to my Tupperware containers and now I do not know their names!:) I do use them , sprinkling a little bit for all currys! I am sure I shocked you!:D

  29. celery in curry??? i was waiting someone will cook and post it before i try and girl, u made my day;) guess what i have in my fridge??? some rotting tomatoes and a stick of celery... thanks to ur accidental diva(????!!!) now i can safely follow ur instructions and cook;)

  30. I love to have crusty breads with soups or gravy curries like these, Hmmmm, my mouth's watering ! ;-) It was a successful riddance of the rotting veggies ! :-D

  31. Sunita, it's a soul-filling dish.
    Rachna, it would be nice with some basmati, I think.
    Seena, are you in the UAE? have a look at these, it seems to work for some -
    Latha, that sounds hilarious, not shocking. Only, I find that some dried herbs have a smoky flavour and don't add much to the dish - did that ever happen to you?
    Sia, un-necessity too is the mother of invention - why did I buy celery without planning what I'd use it in?
    Mona, welcome, yes, I'm going to dispose of more veggies like this in future.

  32. OH,
    thanks dear,will try them and let you, me in Dubai.

  33. Hey sra,
    it works, thanks dear..

  34. Hey thanks for visitng my blog..
    Tried the curry/soup without celery..came out well..I loved it.

    Hey and it does resemble the bhaji.

  35. Seena, I'm glad. Hope you enjoy seeing more pix now.
    Rachel, thanks for letting me know how the dish worked for you.


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