Switzerland and the Raj style rösti
Think of Swiss food and it's all Gruyere, chocolate and potato rösti. So mixing the latter with spice from the Raj? Sounds like fusion food gone mad.
But bear with me.
Being pretty laid back on a recent trip to the slopes, none of our party of four think it wise to book a restaurant on the (transfer day) Saturday night. This is despite us witnessing most of Zurich on the slopes in the afternoon.
So at nightfall we wander, weary legs and rumbling stomachs, along the minus 15 degree streets of Engelberg.
After eight, yes eight attempts at charming our way into restaurants too busy to take us in, we finally fall into a curry house. As you might in the middle of the Swiss Alps.
Don't get me wrong, I do love a good curry. This place feels different though. As we muse over the menu's traditional Tikka and Biryani dishes, we turn over the page and what do we find? Fondue.
Now I'm sure Swiss people would also think it odd that our curry houses offer chicken and chips. But curry and fondue? Now there's one to remember.
I digress. We also try the local rösti, the concept of which I love. Grated potato: crispy on the outside, soft and comforting on the inside. Unfortunately the smothering of Raclette cheese and dripping bacon doesn't feel too healthy. So inspired by our impromptu Swiss curry night, I set about creating a take on it for you. Hope you like it. Just remember to start a couple of hours, or even the night before you want to eat it, as you'll need to pre cook the spuds.
The Raj style Rösti
This makes a big cake on the hob although you could make individual ones and bake them in the oven. The method looks long but it's simple and the results are delicious.
4 medium sized potatoes (I used floury maris pipers, in Switzerland they were waxy) either way works.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
1 inch fresh ginger, skin removed and chopped finely or grated
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp curry paste, I used rogan josh by Pataks
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
Olive oil, mild or any oil suitable for high heat cooking.
Non stick frying pan, medium size
1. Start a couple of hours before you want to eat. Par cook the potatoes whole (no need to peel unless they're damaged) in boiling water for about 10 minutes so you can cool them off enough to grate them. You ideally want them just cooked on the outside but firm in the middle. Set them aside to cool.
2. Once the potatoes are cooled, prepare the spices and garlic, ginger and onions. Grate your spuds.
3. Heat your pan on a medium heat and add in two-three tablespoons olive oil.
4. Add in the mustard seed, turmeric, coriander seed and curry paste and fry gently for a few minutes. Add in the onion, garlic and ginger and soften. You may need to add a little water to get them going. Season with the sugar and s+p. Take off the heat.
5. Off the heat, put your grated spuds into the bowl and mix in the spices and onion mixture from the pan. Add the coriander, leaving a little to garnish. Season well with the s+p. You should have a yellow coloured mixture like the pic above.
6. Wash the pan and reheat it on a low to medium heat. Add in a good splash of oil. When your oil is hot, add your mixture so it fills up the pan evenly. Press it down on the top with the back of a spoon and ensure the sides are neat so you don't get burnt bits.
7. Turn the heat down and leave it to cook slowly for 15-20 minutes, don't be tempted to move it while it's crisping up on the bottom. The aim is to get a golden crust which slowly cooks the inside of the 'cake' before you run a knife underneath it and flip it over, using a plate on the top to keep it secure.
8. Cook the other side for another 10 minutes. Test that the grated potato in the middle is cooked. You can do this with a sharp knife cutting a tiny piece out and presenting the rosti on the other side.