Happy Independence Day to all Indians, as well as a belated Independence Day to all Pakistanis!
From the eyes of an outsider, “India and Pakistan,” seems synonymous for conflict and decades of disagreement. Recent years and months have seen a rise of nationalism, divisions, and heightened tension. And in the midst of all the polarizing rhetoric, it’s easy to lose sight of our shared humanity. But in reality, we as Indians and Pakistanis share much more than the fact that we are people. We share culture, heritage, and history. So many of us have the same mother tongue, we dance to the same music, and dress in the same cultural clothing. But of all of our shared pieces of culture, the one that means the most to me (being the glutton that I am) is the food!! I’m a huge fan of cuisines from across the world, but my heart will always crave Desi food more than anything else– the flavor and spices are unmatched. I also feel that food has the ability to bring people together, because it makes us recognize that we have so much in common, and our nationality doesn’t stop us from sharing our favorite dishes (and so many other things). So today, on Independence Day, I wanted to share one of my favorite Desi foods: aloo tikki, or “potato patties.” I hope we can take today to honor our shared victory against colonialism, and celebrate this day with peace, patriotism, and food. ❤ (Also to my friends who don’t eat meat, this recipe is vegetarian and vegan!)
And now for the recipe!
Wash two potatoes, and then use a knife to create small incisions on the surface of each potato. This helps soften them and prevents them from bursting in pressure when in the microwave.
Tightly cover the potatoes in plastic wrap, and microwave each potato for five minutes. Let them cool completely.
Grate a tablespoon of ginger and half a green chili, and chop some cilantro and about ¼ of an onion into small pieces. Make sure the pieces are very small, so that the flavor is present, but the texture isn’t affected greatly.
In a separate dish, prepare the masala. Add in one teaspoon of the following spices: garam masala, coriander powder, jeera, red chili powder, and amchur. Add in a spoon of salt as well, although the salt will be adjusted to taste later.
Peeled the cooled potatoes by hand. The potato skin should be loose and easy to remove.
Grate the potatoes into a large bowl; you will mash them by hand later.
Add in all the spices and vegetables.
Mix all the ingredients by hand. Make sure that the vegetables and spices are being mixed evenly, and in the process, mash the potato by hand.
Adjust the salt and flavor with your favorite ingredients and spices. I really love adding chaat masala because it adds to the savory and sour flavors.
Take two slices of any white bread of your choice, remove the sides, and wet them lightly with water. Squeeze out the water to turn the bread slices into a doughy consistency.
Knead the bread “dough” into to the potato mixture. Make sure it is well incorporated. While this step is not imperative, I like it because the bread helps with the structural integrity of the tikkis, and improves the ability of the potato to bind/form a strong tikki.
Roll the potato mixture into tikkis (patties). The size is up to you; when I serve them by themselves, I prefer a smaller size, but to serve as “burgers” or sandwiches, larger tikkis are better.
Pour some breadcrumbs or a breadcrumb mixture on a plate. I used garlic flavored panko from the grocery store, but any type of crunchy breadcrumbs work.
Coat your tikkis with the breadcrumbs. This not only holds the tikki together, but also adds a delicious crunch!
Heat a pan (or more than one) on the stove. Once the pans are hot, place three to four tikkis without oil. The tikkis absorb oil very quickly, so it’s best to initially cook them without oil.
Flip the patties when the side facing the pan becomes golden. At this point, add oil to the pan, and move the pan around to ensure that all tikkis are evenly exposed to oil.
Continue monitoring the tikkis, flipping them when both sides are a nice brown color.
When the tikkis are ready to be removed from the pan, place them on a plate with a paper towel, in order to soak up all extra oil.
To serve, you can eat the aloo tikkis plain, or with chutney.
Or, you can have them in a burger/sandwich style, with whichever additions you choose!