Because I prefer a thicker, richer yogurt sauce but don't want unnecessary fat or calories, I use a good nonfat plain Greek yogurt to make the sauce. If you prefer a less dense, lighter texture for the dipping sauce, use ordinary plain yogurt (fat-free, low-fat or regular) instead of Greek yogurt.
Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices with a different flavor profile than curry powder -- I find it to be warmer with "darker" flavors in contrast to the tang and brightness of most commercial curry spice blends. You can buy garam masala online or at an Indian grocery store, or try my recipe for garam masala (it's towards the end of that old newsletter).
1 lb small new or red potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
|Buy Garam Masala online|
1 Tbs water
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs ghee (clarified butter) or oil
3 green cardamom pods, slightly cracked*
1" stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole anise seeds (aka aniseed)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbs water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, dry-roasted**
*Sometimes you can crack the cardamom pods simply by pressing hard with a fingernail; otherwise place in a small bowl and press with the back of a spoon to just barely crack the pods a bit.
**Place the cumin seeds in a small frying pan and toast over medium-low heat for a few minutes (less than 5) until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Keep a close eye on them because they go from raw to DONE within seconds, and it's easy to burn them.
Wash and scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Unless they are very small, cut into 1 1/2" to 2" chunks. Cook in boiling water until just barely tender, no more than 5 minutes maximum, then drain into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Place the next 6 ingredients (onion through salt) in a blender or food processor and puree. Set aside.
Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon & anise seeds, stir and cook until fragrant (about 1 to 2 minutes). Stir in the ground ginger and turmeric and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the pureed onion-garlic mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown (about 8 to 10 minutes). Add the potatoes and 3 Tbs water, stir to coat the potatoes on all sides with the spiced puree, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes), stirring once or twice. If after the potatoes are tender there is still excess moisture in the pan, uncover and raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring regularly, until the moisture has evaporated and the coating on the potatoes is dry and lightly crisp (about 5 to 10 minutes max).
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the dipping sauce by whisking together the yogurt, garam masala and cumin seeds. Set aside.
To serve, place the dipping sauce in a small bowl at the center of a large plate -- or, if you used Greek yogurt, the sauce should be thick enough to dollop in the center of the plate without needing a bowl -- and spoon the fried potatoes around the sauce. Alternatively, you can serve the potatoes on individual plates or bowls with the sauce on the side or spooned over the potatoes. Makes 4 servings.