Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Potato Saung (Batate Saung/ Batate Song)

Potato Saung is a popular Konkani dish and has a great spicy kick to it. Yes, that's the actual name of a dish. But certainly a song of a different kind. The nomenclature of the dish never fails to amuse me.

Growing up, we had 5-6 Konkani families as friends and all of us loved to head out on Sundays for family picnics. Together, we explored all the lakes, beaches, temples, creeks, mountains, hills and brooks you could think of. That also explains my love for nature clad, scenic places especially the silent, calming solitude found on a seashore. The best part is since the decision of Picnic was always last minute, the food was prepared either the previous day or early morning on Sunday. Ma was responsible for one dish - Potato Saung which was typically paired with Shevai - Konkani Rice Noodles, served with a splash of coconut oil. Soon, she became an expert and I've never tasted a better one. The plain taste of Shevai goes well with the spicy fiery hot flavor of Potato Saung. The secret of a great tasting Potato Saung is in the usage of Coconut oil.

I like to pair Potato Song with Chapati/ Roti/ Paratha. The base of the Song Masala can be used to make other varieties like Chinese Potato Saung (Kooka Song), Mushroom Saung, etc. Beware, this dish has a fiery edge to it and is certainly not meant for the faint hearted. A day old Saung tastes even better.

~ Potato Saung ~
Preparation time: 30 minutes (includes pressure cooking for Potatoes)
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Potatoes (peeled, boiled and cubed) - 4 cups
Onions (peeled and quartered) - 2 cups
Coconut oil

For Saung/ Song Masala -
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety [6] + Harekala [2] variety) - 8
Coriander seeds -  1 tbsp.
Chana Dal (optional) - 1 tsp.
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp.
Tamarind - 1 tsp.

Boil Potatoes in the pressure cooker and peel, cube them and set aside. In a frying pan, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil and roast Red chillies along with Coriander seeds and Chana Dal. Dry roast for couple of minutes and allow to cool. Grind to a paste with little water, tamarind and coconut. 
In a deep bottomed dish, heat coconut oil and fry onions till they are translucent and lightly brown. Once the onions are cooked and browned, add the boiled potatoes and the ground masala, adjust salt as per taste, add water for more gravy and cook on medium flame for few minutes. Let it simmer for 5-8 minutes till the raw aroma goes off. Once cooked completely, turn off the flame and serve hot. This dish goes well with Roti or Rice-Dalithoi. 

Note - Coconut is added for consistency alone. Do not add a lot of it. Brown the onions lightly, this is a crucial step to get the right taste for the dish.

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