Wednesday, 9 January 2013

"Stir Fry Chinese Potatoes" or "Kooka Upkari" - A Konkani delicacy.

"Kook" as the konkani's call it , is also known as Chinese Potatoes in English or "Sambrani gadde" in Kannada.
It is a smaller version of potato that grows mostly in Northern Kerala and parts of Coastal Karnataka in India. Karkala is famous for "Kook" and we get the best "Kook" from Karkala in the Autumn months till late February. It takes some time for a novice to get used to the muddy smell of "Kook"!
These potatoes are widely grown all over China and mostly used in Chinese salads.
This "Kook" is loved by the konkani community, and this dish is one of the most famous of the "Kook" dishes. "Kook" is also used in many coconut based gravy dishes along with different kinds of beans/lentils.
I would say my Mom's makes the best "Kooka upkari" in the world, but then I think every Konkani would say the same thing about their Mom.
Nevertheless, this recipe will help you make the perfect "Kooka" upkari!!

Serves 3
"Kook" or "Kooka" or Chinese potatoes or Sambrani gadde/roots - 250 gms

Oil - 2 tbsp ( use coconut oil for authentic taste else any oil will do)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chilly - 5 - broken into bits
Salt - to taste
Grated coconut - fresh- 1 handful
Peel the "Kooka" and cut them into tiny strips lengthwise. If they are too tiny, the best way would be to put a handful or more of them into a cloth or polythene bag, and lightly/gently hit the bag to the ground or a flat surface. Most of the skin comes out easily. The rest can be removed by using a peeler.
Wash well, drain and keep aside.
Take a heavy bottomed pan or a small cooker. 
I use a small cooker as the "Kook" boils well.
Keep the cooker or vessel on low heat, add oil, add mustard seeds, allow to crackle, now add the red chilly bits, and the "kooka" slices, and salt and 2 cups water.
Cover and cook until soft.
If you are using heavy bottomed vessel you will need to check the contents from time to time so that the water does not evaporate and contents do not burn.
Hence using cooker is safer, allow the cooker to let out the 1st whistle, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes and then switch off the heat.
Then add in the grated coconut mix well.
The upkari/stir fry is ready to be served.
This stir fry goes well with Rice and Dalithoy.

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