Kalo Jeere Diye Aloor Torkari is a bright, warm yellow coloured Bengali style Potato gravy dish. Chunky potato pieces sauteed in nigella seed and green chilli flavoured oil, then simmered in a peppery, herby savoury liquid till the potatoes become soft, fluffy, moist, and the liquid transformed to a gravy texture. It is often served in Afternoon tea (Jol Khabar) or the Sunday Breakfast menu with Luchi, Porota.
We all need a quick, versatile yet straightforward potato gravy dish in our recipe collection. And, I realise it’s been far too long since I have shared the Potato and simple Torkari recipe with you all! So, here is a Potato recipe to make not only for Breakfast but also for a quick day’s vegetarian lunch or dinner.
What is Torkari?
In Bengali cooking, Torkari refers to any semi gravy dish. Torkari is mainly flavoured by adding whole spices into the hot oil. This technique is called Phoron in Bengali. Then you add the vegetables, sauteed the vegetable into the oil to absorb the flavour. Then, seasoned the dish with salt, sugar, turmeric powder, and green chillies.
What goes in this Kalo Jeere Aloor Torkari?
The ingredient list is really short and simple.
Potato- use those non-starchy potatoes that hold their shape while stewing. If you live out of India, buy the potatoes used for baked potato recipes. Here in Australia, we buy Nicola and kestrel potatoes.
Nigella seeds – These black seeds have a peppery flavour, and they have a bitter taste. For obvious reason, we don’t add them in this recipe to add bitter taste for sure! But when we add them into hot oil, they release a peppery flavour or, as we say in Bengali Jhanjhalo Gondho (ঝাঁঝালো গন্ধ ). Adding peppery flavour into the bland potato pieces is the only purpose or role these tiny seeds have in this dish! And that’s why in earlier days, when someone used to suffer from cold and flu, our grannies recommended inhaling the flavour of dry roasted nigella seeds to relieve nasal blockage!
Green Chillies- When the aroma of Nigella seeds is paired with green chillies, create a savoury, spicy flavour! Also, green chillies add the heat!
Tomato- Use any common and versatile variety of tomato you get.
Mustard oil- I hate to use the word Authentic in food or recipes! In my opinion, food and recipes change according to family, local produce and the availability of the ingredients. But, I would suggest, if possible, keeping a bottle of this liquid beauty in your pantry to enjoy the traditional taste and flavour of Bengali dishes! If you don’t get in your local market, then use any unflavoured white oil.
Turmeric powder- Everyone knows that turmeric is a medicinal ingredient for health, but don’t you think it is a magic ingredient for colour?
Coriander leaves- A handful of coriander leaves and stalk always enhance the flavour of any curry or Torkari!
How to cook Torkari?
These steps are involved in cooking most of the Bengali Torkaris.
- The first step is to build the primary flavour base by adding the whole spices to the hot oil, and it is called Phoron.
- Next, we add vegetables to the flavoured oil, season them with salt and turmeric powder, and then sear them over medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes. This is the time when all the ingredients exchange the flavour.
- There is premade broth used in Bengali dishes to make gravy. But, first, we add warm water onto the sauteed vegetables and stir everything.
- Then over high heat, we cook the entire dish until the liquid starts bubbling.
- Once the liquid comes to a rolling boil, we reduce the heat to low or medium-low and let everything simmer until the liquid reduces and gets a gravy texture.
- Then remove the dish from the heat, and give resting time at least 10 minutes to get the desired taste and texture.
How to make Kalo Jeere aloor Torkari?
I always use a heavy-duty cooking pan for slow- cooking! First, I place my heavy-duty cooking pan on medium heat for a minute or so. Then, I fill a mixing bowl with water, peel the potatoes.
Next, I pour mustard oil into the hot pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. The oil must be smoky hot; it will take about a minute or two.
While my oil is heating, I dice the potatoes and putting them in the mixing bowl to wash the potato pieces and remove the water.
Next, I add nigella seeds and green chilli into the hot oil and keep stirring to get the flavour. Then I reduce the heat to absolutely low! And add potato pieces into the pan. Then, slowly increase the heat to high, add salt, turmeric powder. I saute the potatoes for 2 minutes over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover it with a lid.
I let the cooking process continue until the potatoes are almost cooked through. It may take 5 to 7 minutes. I use this time to chop a small tomato, coriander leaves and slit green chillies.
Once the potatoes are halfway cooked through, I add chopped tomatoes and continue to cook till the rawness of the Tomato is removed! Then I add warm water. The quantity of water depends on the type of gravy I am in a mood for! If I am looking for a runny gravy, I add more water than usual. After adding water, first, boil over high heat, then simmer on medium heat. Then finish off the dish by adding final aromatics.
What to serve with this Torkari?
Misti or Suji or Payesh
A cup of Tea at the end!
Bengali Kalo Jeere Aloor Tarkari
- 500 gm Potatoes - or 4 medium size ~ diced
- 50 gm Tomatoes - ~ or ¼ cup chopped
- 3 – 4 Green Chillies - slits
- 2 tbsp Coriander leaves ~ chopped - or a handful
- 1½ tbsp Mustard oil - or 20ml
- ½ tsp Nigella seeds - Kalo jeera
- ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1¼ cup Water - or as required
- In a cooking pan, heat oil over medium-high heat; when oil is hot, reduce the heat low and add Onion seed and one green chilli, stir few seconds to extract the flavour.
- Add Potatoes, sprinkle salt and Turmeric powder, increase the heat to high, and stir for a few seconds. This will help maintain the cooking pot’s temperature.
- Then reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan partially, and cook for a few minutes.
- Add chopped tomato, green chilli, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with lid again and continue cooking until potatoes get softened. You need to stir a couple of times.
- Add water, increase the heat to high and let the mixture come up to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Put the lid on and let it simmer for 7-8 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and the gravy is thickened up.
- Add Sugar and coriander leaves. Give a final stir, remove from heat, cover with the lid and give 10 minutes standing time. The gravy becomes thicker when you allow It to rest. So make sure to turn off the heat when the gravy is a bit runnier than your desired consistency.