A quick and easy stir-fry that is a great way to use up leftover ingredients.

Stir fry is a type of cooking that involves quickly frying or sautéing food. The food is usually cut into small pieces before it is stir-fried in a saucepan over high heat, which makes the vegetables crisp and the meat tender. Read more in detail here: what is stir fry.

Chinese potato is an uncommon and seasonal vegetable found mostly in South India. It is tiny and black in color, unlike other potatoes. The dirt has adhered to it, giving it a black color. This vegetable has an earthy, unique flavor and is very tasty when cooked.

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1632476997_937_Chinese-Potato-Stir-Fry-Kooka-Upakari

In Konkani, the Chinese potato is known as kook, while in Kanada, it is known as sambrani. They are quite popular among the Konkani people.

Upakaris, or Konkani stir fries, are an important component of any Konkani meal (be it from any vegetable). During the Chinese potato season, Konkanis love to make Chinese potato stir fry for all kinds of special events. 

Chinese potatoes are also used as a vegetable in ghashi’s, koddel’s, kooka randayi, gajbaje ambat, and valval, as well as in dry, spicy side dishes known as sukke. 

Because Chinese potatoes grow underground, they need extensive washing and peeling before being cooked. Cleaning and peeling Chinese potatoes is a time-consuming task. Traditionally, Chinese potatoes are peeled by putting them into a clean, dry gunny bag/jute bag and repeatedly slamming the gunny bag against the floor until the skin starts to peel off on its own. If there is any skin left after repeatedly striking the bag of Chinese potatoes, brush it on the jute/gunny bags to remove it. However, this method only works if the Chinese potatoes are newly picked. If they have dried up or have been harvested for a long time, this procedure will not work. By that time, the Chinese potato peel would have dried out and would be clinging to the potatoes. 

Then you’d have to use a peeler to peel these Chinese potatoes. Your fingertips will be blackened and stained. If you want to be extra careful, put on gloves when peeling. Only after a few washes does your skin’s color return.

After the Chinese potatoes have been pressure boiled, some people peel them. That is a much simpler and quicker method of peeling Chinese potatoes. However, Chinese potatoes that are peeled and then cooked have a very different flavor from those that are cooked first and then peeled.

Here’s how to prepare Chinese potato stir fry, kooka upakari:

Ingredients:

1 cup Chinese potatoes, peeled and diced 2 tablespoons coconut grated 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil a quarter teaspoon of mustard seeds urad dal, 1/2 teaspoon 2 curry leaves (leaflets) 1 red chili, dried 1 chili (green) season with salt to taste (1/2 teaspoon) sugar to taste (optional) a pinch of powdered asafoetida

Serves: 2

Time to prepare: 45 minutes

Method of Preparation:

1. Peel the Chinese potatoes and thoroughly wash them in cold water.

Keep them submerged in water until you’re ready to cut them, otherwise they’ll oxidize and become brown. 

2. Thinly slice them vertically and place them in a basin of water to avoid oxidation.

3. Parboil them for a whistle in a pressure cooker with half a cup of water and salt.

They tend to overcook if you add additional water. If you cook them for too long, they will get mushy. If you want them to be fully separated and firm, use less water and simmer for just a few minutes.

4. Drain the boiling water and set the Chinese potatoes aside after they’ve finished cooking. If not, they will continue to cook in the boiling water and become sticky and mushy as a result of the starch released into the water.

5. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok/skillet and add the mustard seeds, allowing them to sputter.

6. Once they begin to pop, add the urad dal, sliced green chili, and dry red chili chopped into bits and continue to cook until the urad begins to brown. 

7. Add the curry leaves and cook for a few seconds. Allow the asafoetida powder to sizzle for a few seconds.

8. Stir in the cooked Chinese potato, shredded coconut, and a half teaspoon of sugar (to taste). Salt should be checked and adjusted as needed.

9. Cook for a few minutes, swirling or tossing occasionally to keep it from adhering to the bottom of the pan.

10. Remove from the fire after all of the ingredients and flavors have blended, and serve immediately as a side dish with a bowl of steaming hot rice or conjee.

Observation:

You may cook chopped Chinese potatoes in the wok after seasoning if the Chinese potatoes are fresh and haven’t dried up.

Cooking the Chinese potatoes in advance in a pressure cooker speeds up the cooking time if they aren’t fresh and have dried out a bit. 

More Konkani cuisine side dishes may be found here. 

Tags: kok, chinese potato, upakari, stir fried, side dish, lunch, supper, Konkani recipe, Konkani dish, Konkani cuisine, Udupi cuisine, Mangalore culture, Konkani cuisine, Mangalore food, Konkani cuisine

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