Lotus Root Curry with Gravy
Kamal Kakari ki Rasedar Sabji
Lotus roots or kamal kakri are eaten all over Asia. In north India, they are cooked either in a Curry Sauce or like a Soohki Bhaji. Some enterprising cooks even stuff the lotus root canals with meat or spices and then cook them whole, in an oven. They can also be added to various meat curries or grated and made into Vegetable Koftas. If buying fresh, select the ones with both ends unbroken, as the broken ones often have a lot of mud and rubbish inside. Tinned ones are also okay, but the flavour is not the as good as that of fresh ones.
300 gm. fresh, frozen or tinned Indian lotus roots/Kamal kakri. Fresh is always better. Indian Kamal Kakri is much slender than the Chinese one and tastes slightly different.
2 medium or 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 4-6 pieces each
1 large onion, approximately 200 gm., peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled (optional)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped finely or 200gm. tinned tomatoes.
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. chilli powder
1 tsp. of coriander powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
1 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves for garnish
1/2 a cup of peas.
Wash and scrap the skin off the fresh lotus roots. Slice into 1/2 to 1 cm thick rings.
Steam or boil them for 5-6 minutes in a microwave, drain. If using tinned ones, drain and wash under cold water.
Grind together onions, ginger and garlic in a food processor or chop/grate very finely by hand.
Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and a pinch of asafoetida powder and let the seeds splutter (you can add 1-2 cardamoms, 1 bay leaf, 1 small cinnamon stick and a few cloves here).
Add onion, ginger and garlic paste and fry until golden to dark brown (not burnt).
Add all powdered spices, except garam masala and stir for 10 seconds, to release flavours. Do not burn.
Add tomatoes and stir fry, until oil separates at the edges.
Add prepared lotus roots, stir fry for a minute. Add 1 cup of water, more if you like thinner gravy. If using peas, add here, frozen as they are and fresh steamed beforehand.
Boil briskly for a couple of minutes and then simmer for 10 minutes or until roots are tender.
Stir in garam masala.
Adjust salt and chillies to your own taste.
Turn heat off and add fresh coriander leaves.
To give the curry a richer flavour, you can add 2 tbs. thick yoghurt or cream towards the cooking time. You can also add 1 tbs. ground cashew nuts to the gravy.
Tinned tomatoes are cheaper, easier to use and give better colour to the finished curry, but fresh are tastier and healthier.
To give a redder colour to the curry, you can add 1 tsp. of sweet paprika powder.