Home cooking is a concept that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last couple of months since my last post back in May. Since then, I moved from Scottsdale, Arizona back to my hometown of Toronto and in that time, l have lived in 5 hotels, my parents’ house, my inlaws house (AND gone to 5 weddings) before moving into our own loft downtown. And back in Scottsdale, we were in a temporary furnished rental for 3 months with our thngs in storage. So it’s been a long LONG time since I’ve seen a good deal of my stuff. And with this transient lifestyle, I’ve eaten at so many restaurants out of necessity that homecooking is something I’ve truly been craving.
It’s taken a while for me to get back into the swing of cooking at home. Time to find new grocery stores, find enough surface area to work on in our open concept kitchen, and find places to store all the stuff we unpacked. Finally, I feel like I’m there – home. And ready to get my home-cooking on. And for me, that means aloo chap – an Indian-Chinese word we use for potato cakes stuffed with spiced ground meat. It’s one of my family’s specialties.
Aloo is the Hindi word for potato – I thought it was a Chinese word until I was in my 20s. My first memory of eating aloo chap is going to one of my aunt’s houses a kid, my aunties working away to make a zillion aloo chaps assembly line style, and all of us cousins smothering the little potato rounds in ketchup before stuffing our faces. My aunts made two kinds – spicy for the grown ups and non-spicy for us kiddies. I think they must have used entire sacs of potatoes and half a cow to make enough aloo chaps to satisfy our entire family, and to have enough for leftovers to send home with everyone.
Now that I make them at home, I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, and gluten free breadcrumbs. Also, I pan fry them instead of deep frying for both health and cleanup laziness reasons. I know my adaptations are A-OK since I made these for my parents and they said they were just as yum as the ones my aunt’s make. This is a MAJOR compliment since these aunties are awesome cooks renowned for their massive spreads of all sorts of insanely delicious eats at our family functions. And now that I’m back in TO, I can enjoy this regularly. So happy to be home.
Aloo Chap (Spiced Potato Cakes)
Serves 3 – 4
- 5-6 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled
- 2 tbsp canola oil, plus more for frying
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder or 1 finely diced chili pepper (optional)
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 lb ground turkey, chicken, or lamb
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1. In a medium pot, boil potatoes for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, mash, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a wok or frying pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, chili/pepper, cilantro and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
3. Add ground meat and peas and continue cooking until meat is fully cooked and quite dry. Add salt and lemon juice.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed potatoes and meat mixture and stir until fully blended. Spoon 1/3 cup of the mixture into your hand and shape into a round patty. Gently roll patty in breadcrumbs until coated and set aside on baking sheet until ready to cook. Repeat until all the potato mixture is used.
5. In a medium frying pan add about 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Add a few patties at a time and cook on each side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gently flip and cook the other side until golden brown. Continue until all the patties are done.
6. Serve hot with ketchup. For extra heat, add Tobasco or Mexican style hot sauce to the ketchup.
PS – you can also make these smaller and serve them as appetizers.