This is a recipe and story from my e-cookbook, Ahimsa Noms, which you can read more about below. I apologize for the crap-ass photography – old camera, late night, and also, I suck at photography.
It’s 12:15 on a Tuesday morning. You really should have been in bed two hours ago.
Say you’re a young woman with chronic insomnia who has taken her nightly sedatives, and though they’ve kicked in enough to make you do weird stuff, they haven’t actually knocked you out yet. And say you’re hungry, but there’s basically nothing in the house to eat except some frozen vegetables, a few canned goods, and your savior: a lone Russet potato that weighs in at over a pound.
Time is of the essence. You know that within twenty minutes you’ll be on the ground drooling, much like at the end of your last birthday party, but this time without the aid of twelve Rum & Diet Dr Peppers and a strapping Viking lad to grope from the passenger’s seat on the way home. Plus, you’re lazy and don’t want to put forth a huge effort for a midnight snack.
You’ve also spent the evening reading a massive tome on the history of India as well as watching the over-the-top Bollywood-styled spectacle of Bride & Prejudice. Obviously there has to be curry.
You gather together:
the giant potato
a handful of frozen chopped white onion
(rinsed, since it’s been in the freezer awhile and might have the Freezer Funk)
1 T garlic-infused oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
(all spice measurements approximate)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2-1 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 to 2/3 cup frozen green peas
First, you whip out your trusty serrated peeler and denude the potato of its outer vestments, because you’re just pervy like that. Chop the potato into bits about 3/4″ in size; the smaller the bits, the faster they’ll cook.
You dump the potatoes into a zip-up plastic steamer bag (a box of which you keep around for just such an occasion, because hell if you’re heating up the stove to boil water, and people can bitch about using plastic in the microwave all they want, but the same people who do that also tend to eat hormone-laced meat that wastes resources and clogs their colons, so they can jolly well shut up and let you use one damn plastic bag now and then, after all you use organic cruelty-free cleaning products and reuse sponges and rags and shopping bags and drive a fuel-efficient car and don’t even wear makeup, dammit, everybody’s got to pick their battles, and if it’s a difference of one plastic bag between you eating healthy veggies and ordering pizza, well, plastic bag it is! and everyone can just kiss your dimpled yet shapely white ass, and…oh, the delicious savory taste of self-righteousness! Wait…potatoes. Yeah. Potatoes taste way better than self-righteousness.).
Anyway, mumbling ironically about “freakin’ hippies,” you put the potatoes in the steamer bag and nuke ’em for 8 minutes. If you had an aversion to said bags you could always stovetop-boil the potatoes, which would take twice as long but cost fewer karma points.
You are briefly distracted by the cat, who jumps onto the counter while your back is turned and lays waste to your spice rack.
After standing the bottles back up and hosing down the cat with the spray bottle, while a string of obscenities hangs in the air between you and the cat’s retreating backside, you heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds, stirring until the onions become translucent and the house begins to smell like curried paradise. The potatoes will be a bright yellow, as if someone had sauteed Big Bird, but of course you wouldn’t do that, because Muppets are not vegan. Add the remaining spices and stir-fry another minute. Then, you dump in the potatoes and mix it all together, letting the taters get a tad brown around the edges in the oil mixture. When the taters start getting some nice color, add in the peas and cook the whole mess two or three more minutes. Salt to taste.
Now, if you were an enterprising young gal with some form of flatbread available you could make quite a handsome wrap out of this stuff, or spoon onto one side of a tortilla and fold over, then fry lightly in the pan for a non-queso-quesadilla. You could serve this with a variety of other dishes including various forms of tofu. You could even stuff it into a blanched bell pepper and bake the whole shebang together for a delicious entree, garnished with chopped cilantro and perhaps some cashews. (It would probably serve two, depending on what you do with it.)
It is, however, past midnight, you have no pants on, and we all know you’re going to eat it from the pan standing over the stove.
Or, if your meds are working by now, you can dump half in your trusty Buddha bowl and the other half in a container for tomorrow’s lunch along with a hastily-browned Boca Chik’n patty to help power you through the workday.
Regardless, you fill your belly with aloo mattar goodness and fall asleep sitting up in your chair while watching season 3 of Bones. You know, the one with the guy from the Whole Foods-type chain who ends up baked in a giant compost pile? Yeah, that one’s cool.