German Potato Salad / Kartoffelsalat

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I always remember my stay in Berlin, Germany (on a student exchange program) with fondness. It was an enriching experience on many accounts- work, travel, knowing self, art, freedom, and of course- food. Berlin is a curious, student-friendly city that hosts several food traditions from the European continent, Middle-East, and Asia. Among this melting pot, the German-Austrian cuisine shines too. Among these are, not only the sweet streusels and torte, and meaty brat, curry wursts, and schnitzels; but also the more humble bean and potato salads. Today, I was suddenly gripped with some nostalgia about it, and decided to have the Kartoffelsalat for lunch, a vegan version of course.

VEGAN GERMAN POTATO SALAD / KARTOFFELSALAT

Serves two

Ingredients:

6 small or 3 big potatoes
1 onion
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
2 teaspoons dried parsley
4-6 tbspoons brine from pickled vegetables (can be substituted with balsamic or white vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or bit more if you prefer so)
3/4 cup vegetable stock
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Boil potatoes till done (but not mushy).
  2. Peel and cut potatoes in half slices or big chunks.
  3. Chop onion.
  4. In a bowl mix together potatoes, chopped onion, Dijon mustard, red chilli flakes, parsley, brine/ vinegar.
  5. Boil vegetable stock and pour it over the potato salad. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Can be served as it is, but resting it for 30-45 minutes would help potatoes to imbibe all those flavors better.

Obviously, this salad would go well with grilled wurst or schnitzel but this being a work day lunch, I served it with leftover of stir-fried cabbage & lentil side and pickled vegetables. Oh, and there’s a glass of homemade kombucha! 🙂

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Alu Matar: Peas-Tomato-Potato Gravy

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I have fond memories of this recipe. Now available all year round, green peas were once rather seasonal in India during my childhood. So the advent of winter would mean that Aai would prepare alu matar, or what we called as mataar chi rassa bhaji. Probably of north-Indian origin, this is a household version, which is lighter and vegan. It does not use ghee or dairy cream and instead relies on the slow simmering of starchy potatoes in the tomato-onion gravy for its richness.

Since, it goes well both with rice and chapati bread, it would often star in the menu on special occasions, especially the ones which required a vegetarian feast. Those big chunks of potato and green peas in tangy gravy would be as decadent and delicious as any meat curry to me.

ALU MATAR: PEAS-TOMATO-POTATO GRAVY

Ingredients:

2-3 cups of fresh green peas
2 tomatoes
4 small or 2 big potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1-2 tbspoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 small green chillies
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed fenugreek seeds
1-2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tbspoon curry powder
A pinch or two of garam masala
Salt to taste
2-3 cups of water
1-2 teaspoon of sumac (optional; my own touch to the original recipe for an additional tang)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Fry crushed fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, thinly chopped garlic and chillies over it.
  2. Add turmeric powder and chopped onion over it.
  3. Once onion turn translucent, add potato chunks, salt, and curry powder over it. Mix properly to coat the potatoes in onion and spices. Cover and let the potatoes soften in the steam.
  4. Meanwhile, make a puree of tomatoes and add it to the skillet, with some more water. Let everything simmer slowly till the tomato-onion gravy thickens like a homogeneous sauce and potatoes cook completely.
  5. After potatoes are done, add the green peas. Sprinkle garam masala and sumac powder, at this stage. Cover and let cook further till peas are cooked.
  6. Adjust and water and salt to your liking at this stage. If you add water, let everything come to boil again, and then take off the heat.

Today, I enjoyed it with brown rice, but as noted earlier it would be perfect with any bread/ flatbread as well. I even remember sneaking its leftover out of fridge, and having it as chunky soup in a bowl to satisfy my late afternoon cravings… So that’s another way to have it 🙂