It was really fun to prepare foods for the Brooklyn Magazine launch party. For this event, I collaborated with my friend Ben to make up a whole new Indian taco. We decided on potato curry topped with mole chutney and homemade yogurt crema in a corn tortilla. I will share my recipe for potato curry and Ben's notes on making mole chutney with you below. I posted how to make yogurt in a previous post. I just added a little sour cream to my yogurt to put on these tacos.
The potato curry was basically the filling of a dosa which is a fermented rice and lentil crepe from South India. The curry is made with turmeric (why it's yellow), fried mustard seed, curry leaf, red chili and some dried lentils. This is a picture of a huge dosa that me and my friend Fiana had in Mumbai this last winter:
Ben's mole chutney was outstanding and it really worked well with the curry and the crema. The color was so deep and the flavors were really smokey, spicy and rich - the kind of flavor that stays on your tongue in really good way! After the event, I was putting it on everything I was eating.
It was really exciting to learn about so many new chilies and the process of making a mole base from Ben. His family comes from the Jalisco area of Mexico and he grew up in Los Angeles where I met him. I wanted to include his notes below and hopefully they will serve as a guide on making your very own mole chutney for your Indian tacos! Thanks for sending Ben!
South Indian Potato Curry
3 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 1/2 pounds potato, boiled and cubed (thin skinned white or yellow are good)
1 medium sized yellow onion 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of hing or asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon dried ural dal
1/2 teaspoon dried chana dal
3 fresh curry leaves
1 dried red chili
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish
Heat oil under medium heat in a pan. Put in hing and mustard seeds and shake up. After a few seconds throw in the urad dal and chana dal. You can cover with a lid so that you don't get hit by the popping seeds. Once you see that the mustard seeds are popping and the dals are browning, turn the heat to low and add in the curry leaves and chili. The oil will start to spurt so be careful. Coat everything with oil and fry for a few seconds.
Next, add in the onion and fry till translucent. Add turmeric and mix well. Then add the ginger and fry for 30 seconds. Throw in the potato and cook until coated with flavoring. Add more oil depending and salt to taste and fry for a few minutes. I like to cook mine until it is kind of mushy for these tacos.
Garnish with cilantro.
Ben's Mole Chutney
Disclaimer: This recipe may seem really complicated but it's actually just a lot of playing around with proportions and ratios. I had a lot of fun learning from Ben on this one and hope you will try it out because it is delicious!
2 parts dried pasilla
1 part dried mulato
1 part dried guajillo pepper or Anaheim pepper
less than 1 part or to your taste dried chipotles
less than 1 part or to your taste dried chiles de arbol
tomatoes, red, orange or yellow
1 or a combo of the following roasted pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds
red onion, chopped coarsely
cumin, coriander, garam masala (optional)
Ben's NotesFor this recipe, I used five different kinds of dried chiles. The main chili was a dried pasilla, followed by the mulato and the guajillo pepper. I also used chipotles and chiles de arbol for kick, with the former also adding its characteristic smoky quality. The mole base primarily consists of pasilla, mulato and guajillo.
The proportion I use for the chilies is two parts pasillas to one part mulato and one part guajillo pepper and a little less than one part each for the chipotles and arbols. You can vary the last two chilies depending on how much heat you want. Since this recipe is very much based on preference and the intensity of your chilies, you should smell and acquaint yourself with the character of them all. The mulato chili, for instance, is quite sweet, almost smelling of raisins.
Next, I dry roasted the chilies and the seeds, making sure the seeds hit the pan. Beware of the smoke (cover your mouth and open some windows). After the seeds and chilies are slightly blackened, take them out and submerge them in fresh water. Let them soak until soft. I like to soak my chilies for at least 24 hours. Once your chilies are soft, blend them without the water (only adding if you need to get your blending going). You will end up with a thick, spicy paste.
I then blend in some tomato, usually one red tomato and an orange or yellow tomato. I use the entire tomato, including seeds, because it tames the hotness of the paste while adding some umami flavor, especially if you use unrefrigerated very ripe tomatoes. You can also blend in some salt to taste and either sugar or mexican chocolate to add some sweetness.
I have added cumin, coriander, garam masala before but for these tacos, I just wanted the flavor of the chilies to speak for themselves. Adding roasted and ground nuts or seeds like pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds will help to give an earthy flavor and mellow out the heat a bit. We used about half has many nuts as guajillo pepper in this recipe. Once blended, you have your mole base that you can make your chutney out of!
Since a lot of the proportions and additions should be determined by taste, a good way to experiment is to try out a few different combinations in different bowls to see what you like best. Start with a tablespoon of the paste in a small bowl and start adding lime juice, coarsely chopped red onion, sugar and salt to taste and other seasonings to your liking (i.e. cumin).