Please enjoy this feature on Hanukkah, which highlights India's gift of freedom and the distinctive culinary traditions of India's Jewish communities. Thanks to writer Gowri Chandra for an illuminating article! Yours truly is one of the three women of Indian origin she interviewed.
Here is my adaptation of aloomakalas, the potatoes mentioned in the story that are distinctive to the Calcutta Jewish community. The recipe originally calls for round potatoes but the right variety is hard to find in the U.S., so this version, created with my mother's help, features sliced russet potatoes. Aloomakalas are traditionally eaten on Shabbat and holidays as a treasured side dish but they are great any time, and would also be perfect for Hanukkah!
8 Idaho (russet) potatoes, peeled, cut in half, or thirds if they are large. Cut off the ends of the potatoes to make them flat.
Boil water in a large pot and and add 1 tsp. of turmeric (haldi). Add potatoes and boil 10-12 minutes. They should be a little soft, otherwise baking will take a long time. Drain.
Put a thin layer of oil in a 9x12 pan. Add the potatoes and turn so they are coated in oil. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven. Turn the potatoes every 20 minutes until they are an even golden-brown. They should be crisp on the outside and fluffy inside.
You might not be able to wait to bite into them but be careful as they will be hot! Enjoy!
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Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad.