Vegetarian traditions are found in cultures around the world, with India being the most prominent. As a young man, I journeyed there four times and experienced the marvelous cuisine first-hand in homes, temples restaurants and street cafes. I learned the value of treating every meal and each morsel with respect and appreciation. I also discovered a rich heritage of compassion toward fellow humans and animals.
The art of Indian spicing is legendary. My kitchen arsenal for preparing sub-continent cuisine contains a number of masala dabars * and other vessels to hold over forty spices. In addition, there are grinders, mortar & pestles, grinding stones and tawas* for roasting the various masalas*; however, there are many simple dishes from India which do not require elaborate combinations of spices, hard-to-find ingredients and equipment. Simple, fresh and sattvic*, Indian food can be a delightful and exciting addition to any home cook’s repertoire.
Alu methi tikki is one of the flavorful, yet easy-to-prepare, dishes from the Gujarat region of India. The recipe calls for fresh fenugreek, one of India’s wonder spices and well known for substantial health benefits; the fenugreek leaves impart a rich flavor into whatever dish they are used in. This vegetarian traditional recipe adds depth to any repertoire.
Alu Methi Tikki
(Indian Potato-fenugreek cakes)
Makes 10 cakes
1 1/2 cups creamy new potatoes, chopped and steamed until tender
1 cup packed fresh fenugreek sprouts or leaves, chopped if leaves
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup garbanzo flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
Mash all ingredients together, except coconut oil, and work into a dough. Form into 12 patties. In a griddle or saute pan on medium heat, add a small amount of oil. Place several patties onto griddle. Turn when golden brown and cook until second side is golden. Use remaining oil as needed. Keep warm. Serve hot with lemon or your favorite chutney.
*Masala dabar is a covered round metal container, most often made of stainless steel, which usually has six little vessels inside for holding spices and an inside cover tray to keep the spices from spilling
*Tawas is a flat iron skillet used for toasting spices or making flat breads like chapatis
*Masala is a mixture of spices, powdered, whole or toasted and freshly ground, which is used as a flavor base for Indian dishes.
*Sattvic means goodness. According to Ayurveda principles, every food item falls under the influence of a mode, or combination of modes of nature. There are three modes: Goodness, Passion and Ignorance (Sattvic, Rajarsic and Tamasic). For optimum health, they advise eating sattvic foods as much as possible. Sattvic foods are often defined as fresh, juicy, balanced in taste and energizing.