Thursday, July 16, 2015

Poppadoms with Spicy Green Curry Potato

     A Spicy Indian Style Street Food Party Platter!
     One simply does not need to reinvent the wheel, as far as vegetarian street food is concerned.  In the past, many people in the western world only thought of Asian style steamed vegetables or Asian style stir fry vegetables, when seeking traditional vegetarian street food recipes.  In recent years, international food knowledge has increased in western society.  Most folks are now aware that there are plenty of traditional vegetarian street food recipes to choose from.  
     India is a great source of traditional vegetarian street food recipes.  Indian cuisine has an endless variety of traditional and modern creative vegetarian street food recipes to choose from.

     Western world cooks who seek vegetarian recipes are finally becoming open to the idea of exploring old world and ancient world cuisines, when learning new vegetarian recipes.  The problem is that many traditional ingredients from other cultures are not always available at common American grocery stores.  
     Shopping at a Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Indian food market is an educational experience in itself.  Casually reading the labels and looking at unheard of food items will inspire many new cooking ideas, especially when is comes to making a nifty street food platter for guests.  As a food writer, introducing some so called exotic food items from foreign countries does help to promote diversity and sustainability. 

     When the holiday season rolls around, it is time to break out the big party platters.  Since many people in the western world have chosen to follow a vegetarian lifestyle, it is good to offer some nice vegetarian appetizers to guests.  Just offering a platter of carrot sticks will not exactly get vegetarian guests in a party mood.  Whipping up some vegetarian food that looks and tastes interesting will please vegetarian guests to no end.  

     Today's recipe is easy to make.  Potatoes are a popular everyday food in India and not everybody in the western world knows this.  Because potatoes are easy to recognize, guests will be more willing to try an unfamiliar Indian style appetizer when potatoes are featured as the main ingredient.               

     Recipe Information:
     Today's recipe yields 9 or 10 appetizer portions!
     • Packages of pre-made sun dried poppadoms are available at Indian markets and they are a nice convenience.  Traditional Indian poppadoms are less than 1/16" thick  and they are about 5" in diameter.  
     • After they are rolled out and shaped, the thin pappadoms are sun dried for later use.  Dried poppadoms are often crumbled into stews and used as a thickener.  
     • Dried poppadoms can be served plain like bread, but they taste bland.  Grilling or baking poppadoms is best.  
     • Poppadoms will curl when they are grilled, so a cook must control the curling with a spatula or a grill block weight.  Brushing poppadoms with oil, then placing them between two sheet pans will prevent excessive curling if the poppadoms are baked.   

     Pan Fried Poppadoms: 
     Poppadoms can be pan fried in a little bit of oil, but a cook must have a spatula in hand to prevent excessive curling.  The goal is to allow just enough curling to create a shallow poppadom cup shape.  Grilled sun dried poppadoms quickly become crisp and the surface texture has lots of small dough bubbles.  
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil 1/8" deep.
     Step 2:  Add 1 sun dried poppadom that is 5" in diameter.  
     Immediately press the poppadom with a spatula to prevent it from curling.
     Pan fry till one side becomes crisp and a few brown highlights appear.
     Flip the poppadom.
     Pan fry till the poppadom is crisp and lightly toasted on both sides.
     Step 3:  Place the pan fried poppadom on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     *Repeat these steps to make about 9 or 10 pan fried crispy poppadoms.

     Spicy Green Curry Potato:
     Many Indian recipes are started by frying spice seeds in hot oil or ghee till they pop.  Once the seeds make a popping noise, the oil takes on the spice seed flavor.  The popped spice seeds also take less time to become tender when simmered in a sauce. 
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds.
     Add 1 pinch of fennel seeds.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin seeds.
     Add 2 pinches of black caraway seeds.
     Pan fry the seeds, till a popping noise is heard.
     Step 2:  Add 3 minced garlic cloves.
     Add 2 tablespoons minced onion.
     Add 1 minced green onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 large green jalapeño pepper that is coarsely chopped.
     Sauté for a few seconds, till the ingredients become aromatic. 
     Step 3:  Add 2 1/3 cups of large diced peeled russet potato.  (1/2" cubes)
     Sauté till till a few golden highlights appear on the potatoes.  (Add little bit more oil if necessary.)
     Step 4:  Add 2 1/4 cups of vegetable broth.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of Himalayan Black Salt.  (Himalayan Black Salt is available in Indian food markets.)
     Add 2 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste.  (Thai style curry pastes are sometimes used in Eastern India as a convenience.)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garam masala.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Step 6:  Simmer and reduce, while stirring occasionally, till the potatoes are fully cooked and the sauce becomes thick enough to easily cling to the potatoes.
     Step 7:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Keep the spicy green curry potatoes warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Poppadoms with Spicy Green Curry Potato:
     Place about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of the Spicy Green Curry Potato on each pan fried poppadom.
     Use a squirt bottle to paint a streak of Sriracha Sauce across each Spicy Green Curry Potato Poppadom.
     Garnish each poppadom with cilantro sprigs or curly parsley sprigs.
     Place the Poppadoms with Spicy Green Curry Potato on a serving platter.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of medium ground Szechuan Pepper over the poppadoms.  (Szechuan Pepper is prickly ash tree pepper and this spice is also used in Indian cuisine.) 
     Serve with goat milk yogurt, diced onion, lime wedges and a chutney of your choice on the side.

     Viola!  A tasty aromatic spicy Indian style crispy poppadom snack! 

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