Monday, September 03, 2007

Ode to the Spud

For something that looks round, tubby, chubby - the potato has held an amazing sway over the world. From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia - this is one vegetable (ok food crop) that is common to all. In fact its the fourth largest cultivated food crop in the world - after wheat, rice and corn (Wikipedia).

And why not - its one of the safest, least harm causing food article - after perhaps rice. Most new moms introduce the potato (or the peas) as one of the first vegetables to a child beginning solids. And yet, its difficult to find someone allergic to the spud or having an intense dislike for it.

I remember, as a child, my mom added potatoes to almost every veggie she cooked. In the hope that the lure of the potato would draw us to taste the veggie. Sometimes she succeeded - sometimes not.Come to think of it - you can add potato to almost every thing you cook, to palak(spinach) makes palak-aloo, to gobhi(cauliflower or cabbage) makes gobhi-aloo. From capsicum, to beans to even brinjal - every veggie has succumbed to the influence of the starchy aloo. Except perhaps the bitter-hearted karela (bitter gourd).
Even non veg food is no exception. The biryani-ka-aloo (potatoes cooked with biryani) is a delight in itself. The coastal folks make a mean dish containing potatoes and fish.

And there are so many ways to cook the potato by itself - zeera aloo is a favourite dish served with puris for breakfast. You can make them with tomatoes, with sesame seeds (nice and crunchy), with a paste of coriander leaves, with red hot chillies, the masala dosa filling...... the list is endless.

French fries, roasted with its skin on, mashed potatoes, the western world has its own delightful ways of cooking this humble spud.

Versatile, congenial, adaptable, hardy, pest resistant, not expensive, likable, universal, this is one veggie that truly should be crowned 'King of Veggies'

Or Queen - given its shape ;)

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