No, this is not a recipe for silly potatoes. The anari in the title is अनारी (not अनाड़ी) , which implies ‘flavored with pomegranate’. I’m especially thrilled to share this recipe of anari aloo with you as it was something of a shot in the dark for me – I had no precedent or inspiration, and only followed a hunch that this way of pairing fresh pomegranate with potatoes would work.
Did it work? You bet it did!
Many potato preparations in north India use anardana, a spice made from dried pomegranate seeds. Anardana is of the family of sour spices like amchoor (raw mango powder) and tamarind, which add tartness to dishes. Anardana might not be easily accessible outside India I suppose, given that it is hard enough to find in the southern region of the same country.
Recently, when I cut open a pomegranate I found the seeds not as sweet as I would have liked. I wondered if I could use fresh pomegranate in a savory recipe…perhaps fresh pomegranate would give the dish a milder taste than dried, but the taste would be of the same genre?
I decided to use fresh pomegranate with the most pliant vegetable, the one that cheerfully and tastefully accepts a variety of add-ons – the potato.
This is the recipe I came up with for a get-together with friends. We had anari aloo with pooris. We loved the meal! I asked my friends to guess the ‘secret ingredient’ in the aloo – they couldn’t!
- Potatoes – 3 medium
- Fresh pomegranate arils – 2/3 cup (I used the arils from a pomegranate half)
- Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
- Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Chaat masala* – 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
- Salt – to taste
- Asafoetida powder – a pinch
- Ghee – 2 teaspoons
- Fresh coriander leaves – for garnishing
*Chaat masala contains salt. If using, you would need to reduce the amount of whie salt.
Boil the potatoes. When cool, peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized (2-cm) cubes.
Grind the pomegranate arils. You’ll find the red juicy casing gets blended quickly while the tough white core is harder to grind. Don’t sweat over getting the tiniest bit of pomegranate ground. You can choose to
(1) strain the pomegranate juice and discard the tough parts
(2) use the pomegranate juice without straining – this will give a more tart taste to the dish
I go for (2) – use the juice without straining.
Finally, put it all together. In a skillet, heat two teaspoons of ghee. When the ghee is hot, set the heat to low and add spices in this order: asafoetida powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder. Keep stirring all the while so that the spices do not burn.
After half a minute, pour in the pomegranate juice. Add salt to taste. Set heat to medium and stir the juice while it cooks and absorbs the spices. Let the juice simmer and bubble and reduce to half its original volume. Be mindful of the sides of the skillet as the juice at the rim tends to burn.
Add the boiled potato cubes to the skillet. Turn them around so that the spiced pomegranate reduction coats the potatoes.
Cook for five minutes, or till the pomegranate-coated potatoes are almost dry. Sprinkle chaat masala over the potatoes and stir.
Switch off the heat and cover the skillet for 10 minutes before serving.