Thursday, September 17, 2009

Simple Potato Masaal

When I posted the 'Guess' I had no idea what the fruit was. Sorry guys if I mislead you into thinking I knew the identity of the fruit. I guess the seeds got there from my composting. I eat take back what I said last week. The fruit might in fact be cantaloupe. What do I know?

Fall is making its presence felt and it is the time of the year when it is easy to get depressed just by peeking outside. It is amazing the positive energy and potential the sun has and how a cloudy sky can sap all of it. But this rain as we all know is a life giver! hmmmm. I read a story in the Washington Post about how the writer of the article overcame severe depression by taking to long distance running. Physical activity has this amazing ability to put you in a positive frame of mind. I am not a serious walker and prefer swimming. The days I wake up with the mild case of unease or like today the sun has taken a vacation I grab my swim bag and head to our indoor swimming pool. An hour later all is well with the world.

My neighbor a friend owns a dog, which means she is out and walking every day rain or shine. Her belief is not to spend money on what is available for free, namely exercising. She is right, walking besides giving your body a workout also gives you an opportunity to get out and get some fresh air all for free just by stepping out the door.

I cannot stress the importance of physical activity be it walking, biking, running, hiking, swimming or yoga. This does more for my soul's well being like nothing else. It has for me. This is the time where you are one with yourself and find the time for quiet contemplation. Many an idea or solution has come to me during these times. Seriously. In the warmer months it is easier to exercise because the weather is conducive for activity. But for me it is more during the cold, dark winter months that these activites take on even more significance. It is great if you have a friend or partner to do it with else give it a start and pretty soon you will be hooked. Next thing is the interaction with like minded folks that these activities help bring on.

Sra's comment brings an important point. All of us do not live in areas conducive to exercising outdoors. Overcrowded roads, fast moving traffic, pollution are all to be dealt with. While some of us are lucky enough to live in areas that are suitable for these activities some of us don't. Here in the US, public school grounds are open and free for the public to use during non-school hours. I am not sure if this is a possibility in India. But there are signs of encouragement even there. For instance, the land in front of my in-laws home that was zoned for a park and lying vacant for close to 30 years had a park built on it recently for the explicit purpose of walking. It has a pet nick name of seniors' park for the reason that playground for little children was not allowed to be built inside it. The park is being put to excellent use. Same happenened near my parents' home. A vacant land has been converted to a park. People and politicians(goes without saying they built the parks and got reelected) are realizing the benefits of open spaces.

This does not address the concern for the lack of safe places to walk or exercise. If you have overcome such a problem wherever in the world you live in, please do share.

In a country like the US (I see in India too that life in big cities is heading that way) people live largely isolated lives and outside of the workplace or a formal setting there is not much chance for human interaction.(Don't even get me started about all the missing kids outside.) This results in lot of adults and growing number of kids who are not sure how to react in casual settings, my kids included. Remember when growing up, your parents dragged you to meet and greet people who were visiting, they all had a purpose. Now I realize it, though back then I was kind of perpetually angry with my parents for doing that. All these largely help shape our interactions with the outside world.

Community and physical activity I believe will help people be more healthier and happier han anything money can buy.

And ofcourse, simple healthy wholesome food. Potatoes I know have a bad reputation but they have resulted quick, easy dishes far more time than I can count. When I was growing up, potato masaal was always partnered with poori. Masaal dosai was not a very common item and was usually the item of choice while eating outside. But me on the other hand I make poori masaal maybe once in a blue moon but masaal dosai every other week or so. The ease with which it can be cooked is the biggest motivator.

Simple Potato Masaal
1. 5-6 medium sized potatoes scrubbed clean and pressure cooked, or cooked till soft
2. 1 Medium sized Red onion sliced thin
3. 6-8 green chilies
4. 2 garlic cloves chopped
5. 2 inch piece of ginger grated
6. 1 Cup of green peas fresh or frozen (optional)
7. 1 tomato chopped
8. 1 tsp of chili powder or sambhar powder (optional)
9. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard, cumin

1. Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan, add oil and when hot add the seasonings.
2. Add the green chilies and onion and saute till onion is transparent, add the garlic cloves and saute for a minute or so
3. Add the chopped tomato and saute till mushy. Add salt and green peas.
4. Now peel the potatoes and cut them roughly and add with 2 cups of water.
5. Add chili powder if doing so.
6. Cook till the desired conistency is reached (about 8-10 minutes), some like it a bit watery, some like it more thicker.

Serve with dosai.


  1. Indo, I would like to go for walks everyday or even cycle but in Indian cities/roads, it's no pleasure when there are no parks in close proximity. Even early in the morning can be a big trial if you live in a busy road. I live across a college which used to loan its premises to walkers, they've withdrawn that facility now. so a gym it has to be. But I'm sure there's some other way - when my gym membership expires later this year, I won't renew it immediately, will look out for other stuff instead.

  2. Sra, I should have addressed that. I know, not all areas are conducive to walking and exercising. Let me know how you manage without your gym membership.

  3. Even though I am not a big fan of potatos this masala is simple and good enough for a dosa on a Sunday morning ;) You right on the space front but here the terrace is available all time for anybody to excecise if they live in an appatment. Unless it rains this serves the purpose. Even doing yoga in opn air has a distinct effect!

  4. I love potatoes .. even plain boiled. Would love to try your recipe ISG. :-)

  5. Looks nice ,,will try sometime

  6. I don't make dosas but I make the potato masala and love it with almost everything.
    Come walk over to our area some day ;-)

  7. Nirmala, that is exactly what I do back home. At the same time love watching the people walk by and the multitude of things that catch your attention.

  8. That masala looks delicious, ISG! I make a drier one for masala dosa though.

  9. It looks delicious!Don't even get me started on interaction with other ppl in the US...I can go on and on esp during Winters!

  10. I was all ready to post an insightful comment to your very insightful post, ISG, when I saw the 'optional' after sambhar pwd. in the recipe... :)

    Seriously, as always it's a pleasure to come here and read -- you always give me alot to think about. We too are fortunate to live in a place where we can go out for a walk, run, YMCA right in town for swimming or gym facilities in winter. I don't take advantage as often as I might.

    I find autumn very invigorating but I am thinking of yoga (indoors!) for winter :)

  11. oops -- forgot to say I am drooling over your potatoes! :)


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