Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chatpate Aloo - Cranberry Tinged Potatoes!!

Today, I’ll just tell you a story to prove how randomly my thoughts flutter….

Or, as A would tell you - how “wrongly circuited” I am!! :-) 

This past weekend, I spent some girl time with a dear friend. She was in my neighborhood, running errands. So I invited her to stop by for a cup of “chai” and chit chat. Over our cuppa, we talked about children (of course) and husbands (obviously!!), and other unmentionables extremely important to vent about for a woman’s emotional growth (!!). Spent, and exhausted….until the conversation meandered to what  she had bought from our Produce store -  amongst other things, she had a bag of fresh cranberries.
  “What’ll you do with them?”, I asked (needless to add, she is one big one to look up to as an incredible cook!)
   “Did your mom ever make Karaunde-wali-mirchi?", she asked. “I make a chilli relish using cranberries instead of the Karaunda.” (if you don’t know what I am talking about, please be patient and read to the end of this post here…..)

After she left, I couldn’t get the Karaunda out of my head. My mom loved Karaunde-wali-mirch. She never let it run out throughout the Karaunda season; which, if I am not mistaken, was somewhere between the end of Monsoons and beginning of autumn in Delhi. I have never been a big fan of hot chillies, but I used to pick the Karaunda out and nibble on it. That whole night, I swear, I could taste the bitter-tart Karaunda in my sleep. 

The next morning, I found myself in the Produce store - with just a bag of cranberries in hand. (When realization dawned, I did buy a few more things; but honestly, I didn’t need to…..). Once home, I was stuck with a spur-of-the moment bag of cranberries, that I didn’t know what to do with. 

I again turned towards past memories for inspiration. Another dish my mom made- especially for my dad- was parwal-aloo ki sabzi spiced with (drumroll please!!!) Karaunda. My dad loved it, I never tasted the parwal (and I assure you, I am not a picky eater….) but I devoured the Karaunda-infused potatoes out of that sabzi.  All of a sudden, I craved for that version of Chatpate Aloo….

Plus, I was also curious to know if cranberries could really substitute for the Karaunda of my childhood….

Chatpate Aloo

What I used:
2 small potatoes chopped into thin wedges.
1/2tsp Panch Phoran ( an equal part mix of methi seeds, Kalaunji, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds)
1Tbsp oil
1/2tsp Turmeric powder
1/2Tbsp red chilli powder 
1/2Tbsp coriander powder
salt to taste


20 cranberries, washed and halved.

What I did:

  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick sauté pan and splutter Panch Phoran in it.
  2. Add the cranberries and all the spices. Cover and cook for 4-5 min until the cranberries are squishy.
  3. Add the potatoes. Cover. Turn down the heat to medium low. Let cook for 15 min. or until potatoes are done.

A note: I don’t add water, and just the minimal amount of oil. So the heat has to be REALLY turned down. It takes longer to cook, but the crispiness of these potatoes is what I like. You’ll also need to stir the pot every few minutes to make sure that the layers cook evenly and don’t burn. 

My two cents: So here goes. Apparently, Karaunda is called caranda plum in English. It’s a half-red, half-white fruit a bit bigger than cranberries. I remember it being more the size of a red grape. Here is the Wikipedia page about Karaunda of my childhood. My grandma also pickled the unripe version of it….which, as I never ate pickles, I have no idea how that tasted!!!

The other thing I mentioned in this post here- parval- is also something I haven’t encountered yet during my stay in USA.  Friends suggested it was the same as tindora found in Indian stores, but I assure you they don’t cook, or taste the same. Parval and tindora are two widely different vegetables, even though they might appear similar in appearance.

And that brings us to the star of of this recipe- cranberries. Yes, you can substitute with cranberries for a Karaunda-like-flavor. I thought mine were a little more bitter than the Karaunda I remember- but my memories are clouded with time. The taste of that slight bitterness was not unpleasant though, and got powered down by the other spices. 

Thanks to a random comment from this particular friend, I got my Karaunde-wale-Chatpate Aloo. The quest for Parval continues….

And if only…..if only I could convince this friend to share her Cranberry-Chillies on MLS……

Sharing this recipe at
The Hearth and Soul Hop for October