It’s about 10 years since I met Yottam Ottolenghi when he was in Sydney for the Crave Sydney International Food Festival. In 2010, Yottam and partner Sami Tamimi had the first Ottolenghi deli in London’s Notting Hill, wowing locals with dishes characterised by Middle Eastern flavours, vegetables and simplicity.
Back then, Rene Redzepi of Noma fame was star of the festival; the uber-forager, though the Chef’s Showcase had a Middle Eastern flavour, hence Ottolenghi’s appearance. My friends, Ray and Jennice Kersh, pioneers in bringing native Australia foods to wider audiences with their legendary restaurant Edna’s Table were dismayed that indigenous flavours and culture were not being celebrated anywhere in the festival. So, they invited the visiting chefs to an informal lunch themselves in the Royal Botanic Gardens, preceded by a tour of the indigenous plants in the gardens. As committed lovers of native foods and Ray’s cooking, Simon Marnie of ABC radio and I co-emceed, and my son Blair donated his time as a waiter. See the menu here. The overseas chefs were enthralled, listening avidly, tasting and questioning. It was a memorable experience.
Not long after that, I was in London, and Ottolenghi assisted with a table at his restaurant Nopi. It was an eye-opener. Only fairly recently I ate at his newest restaurant Rovi, where he continues to celebrate vegetables and reinvent traditions such as fermentation and cooking over fire to serve some of the most exciting food in the capital.
A decade on, Ottolenghi is now a superstar. The Israeli-born, London-based chef has a massive empire of restaurants and eateries throughout London and his recipes are closely followed in The Guardian newspaper. He has a constantly growing number of cookbooks to match, including this most recent one FLAVOUR which is co-authored by Ixta Belfrage. He, and his collaborators, have done more than anyone to put vegetables centre stage with recipes to entice, excite and yes, make you happy.
Happy Ali is thrilled to share these most recent ones with you.
Ottolenghi’s Chaat Masala Potatoes Recipes With Yoghurt And Tamarind
This dish is inspired by aloo chaat, an Indian street food that has many regional variations, all of which are not for the faint-hearted because they are loaded with sweet and sour and a fair bit of crunch. This is a slightly tamer version, though still pretty ‘noisy’, both in flavour and in looks. It’s absolutely perfect for a weekend lunch, alongside other vegetables, such as the aubergine with herbs and crispy garlic, or the radish and cucumber salad with chipotle peanuts (p. 263). You can also serve it as a side with roasted lamb or chicken.
Chaat masala is the slightly tangy spice mix that gives this dish its distinctive flavour. It gets its sharpness from amchoor, dried mango powder, which is used widely in Indian cooking as a souring agent. You’d recognise the flavour from samosas and pakoras, where it is often used.
Both the coriander chutney and the tamarind sauce are great condiments to have on hand to brighten up sandwiches and wraps, to spoon over eggs, or to serve alongside tofu or fish. Double or triple them, if you like – the coriander chutney will keep in the fridge for up to a week and the tamarind sauce for up to 2 weeks.
750g baby new potatoes, cut lengthways into 1cm-thick slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chaat masala
1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric 250g Greek-style
1⁄2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds on a mandolin, if you have one, or by hand (45g)
1 green chilli, thinly sliced into rounds (10g)
11⁄2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
11⁄2 tsp nigella seeds, toasted
30g fresh coriander
1 green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped (10g)
1 tbsp lime juice 60ml olive oil
SWEET TAMARIND DRESSING
11⁄2 tbsp shop-bought
tamarind paste, or double if you’re extracting it yourself from pulp
11⁄2 tsp caster sugar 1⁄4 tsp chaat masala
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.
2. Put the potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt into a medium saucepan and top with enough cold water to cover by about 4cm. Place on a medium-high heat, bring to the boil, then simmer for 6 minutes, or until they’re almost cooked through but still retain a bite. Drain through a sieve and pat dry, then transfer to a large parchment-lined baking tray and toss with the oil, chaat masala, turmeric, 1⁄3 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Roast, stirring once or twice, for 35 minutes, or until deeply golden.
3. Meanwhile, make the coriander chutney. Put all the ingredients and 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt into the small bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth. Set aside until needed.
4. For the tamarind dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl with 11⁄2 teaspoons of water and set aside.
5. Spread the yoghurt out on a large round serving platter. Top with the coriander chutney, swirling it through without completely incorporating. Drizzle with half the tamarind dressing, and top with the potatoes, onion and chilli. Drizzle over the remaining tamarind, then sprinkle over the seeds and serve.