Traditional Sindhi food brings together tastes from different corners of the flavour wheel. With lola and sai bhaji, we see bitter greens being paired with nutty sweet dough. Similarly, Sindhi curry is paired with intensely sweet, deep-fried boondi and crunchy twice-fried aloo tuk. The more I delve into my cuisine, the more I appreciate this marriage of textures and flavour. There’s a remarkable understanding of food here and we come across as true gourmets. Dishes such as palo (hilsa) or mutton for example, were traditionally cooked with a swig of brandy over slow fires or wrapped in dough and buried, but we don’t do that anymore and prefer to cook in ovens and pressure cookers instead. Sindhi cuisine has major Mughlai influences and also borrows from Punjabi cuisine greatly due to the close proximity. The use of wadiyan in our cuisine is one such similarity, but we Sindhis cook it a bit differently.
Sindhi aloo wadiyan uses tomatoes and we may also add lotus stems or tinda (apple gourd) to the preparation. The wadiyan are of different varying spice levels so opt for one that you like. This recipe is best with spicy Amritsari wadiyan, but if you’re opting for the moong dal wadis (the yellow ones) or the urad ones (the white ones), which are not so spice-heavy, you should opt for an onion-tomato gravy as base and up the chillies slightly.
We eat spicy aloo wadiyan bhaji with Tairi, a sweet rice that we make on festive occasions and also serve with Aisi Palak, another spinach dish. It is laced with cardamom, tinted with saffron at times, and finished with a festive sprinkle of fried dried fruits. A small portion of wadi aloo and tairi makes for a very satisfying meal and is a great festive Sindhi recipe to put on your table.
Vegetable Oil 1/4 cup
Amritsari Wadiyan 2 big sized, broken into small chunks
Asafoetida 1 tsp
Tomatoes 4 large sized
Lotus stem 125g, peeled and sliced thinly in slants
Potatoes 2 medium, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Brinjal 150g, the light purple variety, cut into 1-inch chunks
Green chilli 2 slit green chillies
Ginger 1 tbsp, chopped
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Ground Coriander powder 1 tbsp
Chopped coriander 1/2 cup
Start by frying the wadiyan in 1/4 cup oil in a heavy bottomed pan over low flame taking care to not burn them. Once they have changed colour, remove them and soak them in water enough to just cover them. Soak this for 10 minutes, then fish out the wadiyan and set both water and wadis aside.
In the remaining oil, add 1 tsp of the hing and add the brinjal. Lightly fry this till it begins to wilt. Add in the potatoes and cut lotus stems and fry these till it just starts to brown. Remove all of them and set aside.
Add in the tomatoes together with the ginger and green chilli (you could pound together the ginger and green chilli to a paste before adding it) and fry this till oil separates. Add in the salt, turmeric and red chilli and continue to cook, then finally add the ground coriander powder and fry for another 30 seconds.
To this, add all the vegetables and fry for another 2-3 minutes and add half of the fresh chopped coriander, reserving the balance to garnish. Add in the wadi and stir gently for 30-40 seconds being careful to not break them further. Now add the wadi water, and add 1 cup of water in addition to this. Stir gently to mix and reduce flame to low. Put a lid on this and cook on slow till the potatoes are done and the oil has separated on the sides. Serve.
Ghee 3 tbsp, melted
Rice 1 cup, soaked for a minimum of 1/2 hour
Cardamom pods 2, cracked
Salt 1/4 tsp
Orange Food colour (halwe ka rang) or saffron a pinch or a few drops
Mixed Dried Fruits 2-3 tbsp
Sliced fresh coconut 2 tbsp (optional)
Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and to this add the cardamom pods and let it crackle. Next, sauté your rice for two to three minutes in the ghee and add two cups of water. Add in the salt and food colour and once the water comes to a simmer, reduce the flame, put a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and by now all the water would have been absorbed by the rice.
Sprinkle over the sugar, cover and cook again until all the sugar has melted and your rice is cooked completely. Fry some mixed dried fruits and sliced coconut pieces in another tablespoon of ghee and sprinkle on top of the rice.
Take this off the flame and fluff up the rice using a fork.