Weeknight dinners in our family home were standard: Ami would prepare a Pakistani meal every day, consisting of a meat-based curry, a side of dahl, and sautéed vegetables, raita, and either basmati pilaf or flatbread, such as chapati or naan.
On her “nights off,” she would make one dish with a side of rice and a condiment (my idea of a “night off,” on the other hand, is ordering in). While Ami was ready to cook for her family even on her restful days, she would sometimes simplify the process by paring her menu way down.
On a Friday night, for example, Ami often made Pakistani-style egg and potato curry, which my sisters and I still love. This isn’t a dish you’ll find in a Pakistani restaurant—it’s that special, simple meal you make at home for your loved ones—and it doesn’t even have a name, we just call it "Aloo Anday," which literally means “eggs and potatoes.” Mention the dish to many a child from the Indian sub-continent and they will tell you that their mother has her own version of it.
Aloo Anday is a tomato-based vegetarian dish that doesn’t involve a lot of prep time or a long list of ingredients—most of what you need you can find in your pantry. We eat it with steamed basmati or naan. To many, eating potatoes with rice may seem out of place, but in the Pakistani kitchen, it isn’t an oddity at all.
As children, Ami would call us into the kitchen, where we would ladle spoonfuls of the Aloo Anday straight from the pot into our Corningware bowls filled with steaming basmati. Ami would add dollops of creamy cucumber raita on the side, and we would mix it all together and eat it in front of the television. Sounds like a good Friday night, right?
These are the pantry basics you’ll need to make the curry:
- The holy trinity: garlic, ginger, shallots (if you don’t have all three, don’t fret—even one of these three will do)
- Tomato sauce: Maybe you’ve saved precious jars you canned over the summer, or maybe you have a tin of tomato sauce lurking somewhere in your cupboard
- A few pinches of haldi (turmeric), sea salt, and your favorite red chilli powder
The beauty of this dish is that if you don’t have any rice, you can enjoy it with a slice of sourdough bread you love. You can even tear bits of bread straight into the bowl and eat it all with a spoon.
And if you have some leftover from dinner, have it the next day for breakfast: Take some bread, smother the potatoes on top, and crown it with one of the eggs.
With this recipe in hand, you, too, may opt to cook instead of ordering in on a Friday (or Monday, or Wednesday) night.
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (I use grapeseed)
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1-inch nub ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder (jeera)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- sea salt, to taste
- 4 eggs
- 1 handful assorted fresh herbs of your choice
What's your favorite simple, comforting recipe you'd never see on a restaurant menu? Tell us in the comments below.