Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pink Potatoes with Lentils and Cilantro (Girgir Aloo)

I got these pretty little potatoes from my CSA a few weeks ago and thought they were just like any other pretty little pink-skinned potatoes, but they turned out to be vivid blushing pink through and through. I almost thought I should prepare them in a dish that would allow them to shine on their own, but I had already begun making my adaptation of Girgir Aloo, a recipe from the Hunza region of Northern Pakistan. The main ingredient for this recipe is lentils, and coincidentally, I had selected some whole masoor dal, demure and brown outside but stormily pink within, as the star. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but she is pink in tuber and cotyledon. You've seen masoor dal, also called red lentils or pink lentils, in its split and decorticated form. The pretty pink cotyledons of the split dal turn yellow when cooked, but the whole masoor dal cook up looking pretty much like any other lentils.

Girgir Aloo (Adapted from Mareile Paley)

2 cups whole masoor dal (or other whole lentils)


3 large onions, medium to largish dice

4 ripe tomatoes

one small bunch of cilantro, about 1 cup chopped leaves

One dozen small pink potatoes (or a pound of any potatoes)

4 fresh chili peppers (I used one green jalapeno, one yellow surefire, one bright red surefire, and one purple pepper that turned a lovely deep crimson when cooked)

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons hot paprika or cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

Cook the lentils in 2 cups of water with half a teaspoon salt until tender. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, and cook over low heat until they begin to color. Scald the tomatoes in boiling water, remove the skins and seeds, and cut into pieces. Add the tomatoes and half of the cilantro to the onions in the saucepan. Cook for a few minutes and add the potatoes, the fresh chili peppers, and spices. Stir and cook for a few moments, and add a cup of water. Cook until the potatoes are done, and add lentils with their remaining water, if there is any. Give a stir and continue to cook for another twenty minutes or so. Before serving, stir in the remaining fresh raw cilantro leaves.

At first the turmeric will smell harsh, and you will think you have added too much, but as the lentils and vegetables cook, the turmeric will recede to a nice warm, woody background.

The recipe from which this is adapted appeared in Saudi Aramco World and was brought to my attention by the exquisite Cara De Silva. Here’s the article. Click on the box that says “view the recipes.” You can decide if you want to try my recipe or the original. I received Saudi Aramco World for several years. I don't know why they started sending me the magazine, and I don't know why they stopped. They did have some good food journalism every now and again. Let us draw the curtain of charity across the balance of their editorial content. But you see? Here is yet another case in which we see that amazing recipes are out there just everywhere.

Find more delights from unexpected sources at Weekend Herb Blogging, to be found this week at Piperita’s Kitchen Pantry.

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Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Very pretty and a most interesting way to use cilantro (which may or may not be my very favorite herb.)

11:42 AM  
Blogger sher said...

You always have such beautiful pictures of veggies. That looks like a delicious and comforting dish. Now that it's starting to cool off I will make this.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the aloo recipe looks super delicious. your pictures are amazing. thanks for sharing.

9:44 PM  

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