A 'song' for JFI Chillies

Konkani food by and large is spicy, but not fiery hot. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is a Kolhapuri 'tambda rassa' (red curry and that should tell you everything) or an Andhra pickle (needs no introduction), I'd rate it at 7. This is of course a blessing for a wuss like me but let's pretend you didn't read that.

We make up for this restraint in spice with color. Make that COLOR. Konkani curries (ghasshi, ambat, randayi etc.) are a deep, inviting sunset color. My most abiding memories in my mother's, aunt's or mother in law's kitchen is of them running a critical eye over the masala in the blender and deciding if the color is just right.


The secret? Byadgi or Bedgi chillies - these wrinkly, deep red chillies from Karnataka are supremely important to our cuisine. Roast them in oil and you get curries that look like this. In my own kitchen, depending on the dish or cuisine, I use Byadgi, Kashmiri (they are less spicy and have equally wonderful color) or Reshampatti chillies commonly found in the grocery stores here. See this excellent post by Deccanheffalump for photos.

Batata song, a dry preparation made with potatoes puts these chillies to good use. It is one heck of a spicy-tangy curry that will make your taste buds sing (bad humor I know!). So it's perfect for this month's JFI hosted by Nandita.


BATATA SONG (Spicy Potato Curry)
(serves 2-3)
3 potatoes, boiled and cubed
1 medium size onion, chopped
4-5 dry red chillies (more if you want smoke coming out of your ears!)
1 tsp tamarind paste
mustard seeds (optional)

Roast chillies in a little oil, then grind into a paste with tamarind and water*. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they pop, add onion. Saute on moderate till soft (not brown).

Add tamarind-chillli paste and potato cubes. Season to taste. Rinse blender with a little water and add to pan. Cook on low heat till the curry thickens. Cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

* I sometimes add a pinch of coriander seeds or a tablespoon of coconut to help grind the tamarind and chillies smoothly
* Use red chilli powder to save time



Blogger FH said...

I am willing to sing and dance for that Song!!;D
Looks yum! I haven't seen Byadgi menasinakai in a long time.Good to see those.I use paprika for color, a very sorry and bland replacement for Byadgi!!Hahaha!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Song looks ..errr sounds divine Archana ! Any variation to the potato fry is a sure welcome in my kitchen :)

5:42 PM  
Blogger Tee said...

This is one song I am ready to sing ;) Looks hot and delicious!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Suganya said...

My mom was always particular about those wrinkly chillies. I dint care whether they were wrinkled or not. But now I do...

7:16 PM  
Blogger Savithri said...

Looks delicious! I love your pictures:)

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a nice song. Another song from me:

Chilli Chilli oh byadgi chilli
naa ninna munde hili hili

Pics are gr8 so is the recipe.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This looks fantastic. I can't wait to try it!

8:55 PM  
Blogger Coffee said...

I rarely sing when its with chilies.... But I am ready to sing for this!! :)

9:23 PM  
Blogger bee said...

i made this tonight. replaced the onion with spring onion whittes, added a dash of coconut, and used dried regular chillies (jalapenos) instead of byadgi. turned out awesome, and HOT!!! thanks for the recipe. - jai

11:30 PM  
Blogger Raaga said...

Hi Ashwini,

I just got back from a trip to the Himalayas with my cousin and family from the UK.

My niece was craving amchi food and we made batata song in the cottage. Incidentally, we also ate it just before we left for the trip.

Amma's packed some bedgi mirsaang for me and I use those so sparingly. Most times, for the colour, I add kashmiri chilli powder.

Your post is making me homesick. I want batata song and daali saar now!!

12:03 AM  
Blogger Srivalli said...

potato looks yummy...


12:26 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Asha - now that's one performance I'd like to see!

Priya - you mean Ashwini?

Tee - the authentic version has an even darker color bcoz of the huge number of chillies

Suganya - I understand...red chillies were just red chillies to me too. But when I started cooking I couldn't stand the wishy washy color of my curries. I know better now :-)

Savithri, Srivalli, Erin, Coffee - thanks

Lakshmi - ROTFL!!! Now this song is going to play in my head the WHOLE day!!

Bee - you are fast! I like the idea of adding scallions..glad you liked the dish

Raaga - first I am so jealous! A trip to the Himalayas? You are one lucky girl. I understand your niece's sentiments - eating hearty homely meals makes travel bearable doesnt it? I have a decent stock of mirsang now coz I literally stole from my mother's & sister in law's pantries ;-D

12:42 AM  
Blogger Roopa said...

Hi Ashwini, good to see you back. wow the song with chillies. the potato song looks great i get 1 kg while coming back from India. it taste and looks great with byadgi mesinkaayi. :)

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ashwini,

1) How do I make the tamrind paste?
2) Can you suggest any other vegetable other than potato? (Potato and it relatives are a no-no in my in laws place, owing to its gassy nature :))


4:17 AM  
Blogger Saju said...

Looks so yummy, That's my song, I love it, I am tapping my feet as I type!

4:31 AM  
Blogger Priyanka said...

Sounds spicilicious- a new turn on the batata song.... we love any dish with potatoes...will try making it.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Sia said...

who wouldn't dance for the tune of this 'song'? i am craving for some right now.
i get my share of byadagi from india. never really knew the difference between one chilli to another but now i am wiser;)

8:31 AM  
Blogger Poonam said...

I never cared to pick the best chillies ever! Now I do!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for such a lovely ethnic recipe...we do often find bedgi varieties in the stores in Mumbai.
Plan to try this soon!

9:33 AM  
Blogger TBC said...

Hi Ashwini,
I like this recipe a lot & am going to try this out soon.
I have made your jeer-meerya kadhi so many times now. It is such a simple recipe & gets done in no time! Thanks!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Roopa - 1 kg? I am realllly envious now ;-)

Rashmi - by tamarind paste I mean the readymade tamarind pulp that we get in grocery stores in U.S. The correct way to do this would be to soak a lump of tamarind (walnut size) in water, strain and add to song. I have eaten song made with mushrooms once, believe it or not so I suppose any vegetable can be used - cauliflower, plantain, raw jackfruit for eg.

Saju, Priyanka, Sia, Poonam - thanks

Nandita - loved participating. I cant wait for the round up

TBC - let me know how you like it. JM kadhi is one of my all time faves too..I am huge fan of quick no fuss cooking on weekdays

10:40 AM  
Blogger Priya said...

yup...I did mean Ashwini !!!! So sorry !!

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents got a big batch of byadagi chilies when they came here last month. I used to buy them from Indian store here but still they can't be matched to actual byadagi chilies from India.

I love song :). My grandmom used to make it so hot that we used to literally sing. Now I have reduced on the chili content considerably :).

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

COLORFULLLLL !!! I loved the chillies photograph.. Good one hunnyyyyy !!

1:21 AM  
Blogger Sandeepa(Bong Mom's CookBook/DesiMomzClub) said...

As musical as one... :)
I heard about these chillies at Shilpa's (Aayis Recipe)
Are they sold by these diff. names at the grocery stores here in US ? I should look for them then

8:45 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Mythili - good to see you here

Sandeepa - bedgi is how they are popularly known, but I havent seen them anywhere in the U.S.

7:48 PM  
Blogger ms said...

Hi ashwini,
I made this the other day, I really liked it! Thanks for a great recipe.


10:24 AM  
Blogger Sonia said...

Hi Ashwini,
What a wonderful snaps...!!! I really wud love to try it b'se my mother-in-law is Konkanshth Brahmin and she grew up in Gujarat. Morever, I am very close to Maharastrian culture and food as I have some gud friends frm there.
Thanx 4 sharing us.
Take care.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an "aamchi" cook, batata song has been a family favorite for many years. I suggest the following changes to the recipe. 1. Use more onions. I generally use the same volume of boiled, cubed potatoes and chopped onions. 2. I prefer to fry the onions until they are lightly browned (almond skin color). This adds a sweetness to Song that nicely balances the heat. Finally, within our family, there was always an argument about whether to add a little jaggery or not. My grandmother did and my mother did not.

5:33 AM  

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