As many of you know, I have begun my apprenticeship at Michelin-starred, Indian fine dining, restaurant ‘ Tulsi NYC’. The French Culinary Institute taught me many skills and yet I had only scratched the surface. This month, I reached out to Chef Hemant Mathur, founding partner of Tulsi NYC, to expand my understanding and skills in South East Asian culinary techniques. He offered me the opportunity to apprentice for him and needless to say, I accepted in a heartbeat. Of course, I have been cooking Indian food at home for many years, but it was time to give myself more tools and get to know my ingredients a whole lot better. Just this week alone at Tulsi, has taught me that lentils can be roasted and added to meat curries to provide both flavor and texture whilst a variety of nuts can be blanched and pureed to lend a creamy touch to a dish.
Seeing how some of the complicated Indian dishes come together is very exciting, but seeing how the ‘seemingly’ simple dishes are executed is what gives me the keys to the kingdom. One such dish is an Indian potato croquette or rather Alu tikki. I have attempted to make this dish on many occasions and somehow, the experience has never quite hit ‘bull’s-eye’. Either the potatoes tasted lumpy or loose or worse still, swollen with oil. Last week, Chef Pratik, Tulsi’s soldier in the kitchen, trained me on how to make the perfect alu tikkis. For me, the breakthrough was not just in the ingredients but rather the method. I learnt that the potatoes required breaking down with a grater or food mill versus a potato masher and the grated ginger should be lightly sautéed before adding to the mixture (preventing the ginger from turning a dirty brown).
Alu tikki is part of the street food scene in India. Its versatility allows it to be paired many different dishes, such as, channa masala (garbanzo bean curry), chaat (street snacks that are wet with different chutneys) or thrown in to a bun to make the perfect veggie burger. Whilst alu tikkis are typically deep or shallow fried, with this recipe, you can just as easily make them on a griddle pan with a fraction of the oil
5 medium sized russet potatoes, boiled and grated
1 medium sized onion, finely diced
1 tsp ginger, grated
Handful of cashews, roughly chopped
¼ cup of corn starch
1 green chili
Handful of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp chat masala
1 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp. turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
1) Sautee the onions and ginger until onions start to soften, remove from heat
2) Combine all the ingredients, except for oil in a mixing bowl
3) Heat skillet. Make golf ball sized balls and form in to 1 ½” thick patties. Add 1 tbsp. oil to the griddle and place the patties on hot pan. Allow to brown and become crisp for approx. 3 minutes and flip to other side.
4) Remove from heat and drain on paper towels
Serve on a bun to make a meatless burger or dip in to mint or tamarind chutney
Pearls Of Wisdom
Do not mash potatoes with a hand blender or food processor as the texture becomes ‘gluey’