If you’re a person who can handle some hot peppers, you are going to love our friend Nima’s wonderful shogo khatsa — spicy potatoes — recipe.* Nima la learned this recipe from Nepali people in her hometown of Kalimpong, in the Darjeeling district of the Indian state of West Bengal. In India, this dish is often referred to as aloo khatsa, a blend of Hindi (aloo, meaning potato) and Tibetan (khatsa, meaning spicy :-) Tibetans living in India tend to love very spicy foods, and say that the spiciness allows you to eat more. (Eating more is considered a good thing in traditional Tibetan society, without it’s emphasis on skinniness as a virtue :-)
WARNING: HOT, HOT, HOT
Serves 6-8 people
- ~13 small to medium red potatoes (1.5 to 2 potatoes per person)
- As many chillies as you like. For a VERY spicy sauce, Nima la used from 20-30 red hot chillies. If you want a much less spicy sauce you could use just a few very mild peppers.
- ~6 large cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt (one when blending the chillies and one for later, while cooking)
- A little over a cup of water (some for the blender and more for cooking)
- ~ 1/2 cup of cooking oil
- A few pinches of orange food coloring. Nima la used the orange color of Rainbow food color. (optional)
Video: Watch Nima la prepare shogo khatsa:
If you have time, there are a couple of things you can do a few hours before cooking:
- Wash your red chillies by rinsing them well in water. You can then soften them by soaking them in warm water.
- Wash your unpeeled potatoes, then boil them. When they are just cooked, still a bit hard, remove from the heat, drain the water and let them cool to room temperature for easy handling at the peeling/cutting stage.
If you are short on time, skip the steps above and instead:
Prep your potatoes:
- Rinse your unpeeled potatoes clean, then add them to a deepish pot and cover with water to boil.
- Boil them to just cooked, still a bit hard. You don’t want them too soft as they will fall apart while cutting and cooking. If needed, they can cook a bit more later at the stir-frying stage. Nima la likes to use a pressure cooker for the potatoes as it cooks very evenly.
- Once they are cooked, drain the hot water and rinse with cold water to cool down for handling.
- Once your potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, by hand.
- Roughly cut the peeled potatoes into large bite-sized chunks.
While your potatoes are cooling, you can prep the sepen, the hot sauce:
- Place your hot chillies in your blender and rinse well with water a few times. Drain most of the water, leaving about 1/4 cup.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt and 6 peeled cloves of garlic and blend together with the chillies to make a soft paste.
- Add about 1/4 cup of water to the mixture and blend some more to liquefy the mixture a bit. (You may need to add a little more or a little less to get the consistency you see in the video and in the sepen photo below.)
- At this point, you have a Tibetan hot sauce, sepen. You can set some aside to use for other meals if you like. :-)
- Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with oil, and heat on high.
- Add 5 heaping tablespoons (or as much as you like, depending on your taste for spiciness) of the hot sauce to the hot oil, and stir fry for a few minutes, then add a couple of pinches of the orange food coloring if you like, along with another teaspoon or so of salt, and stir fry a bit more. Be sure that you have mixed well the oil and hot sauce before you take the next step.
- Add about 1/3 cup of water to the pan, and stir fry a few more minutes, mixing well.
- Add the chopped potatoes. (If the potatoes are overcooked, they will soak up too much oil at this point.)
- Stir fry the potatoes, mixing well so that they are all covered with the sepen. You may want to add a little oil if your mixture at this point seems a little dry.
- If your potatoes are a bit undercooked at this stage, you can cook them a little longer, or just stir fry a few minutes to heat through and cover in the sauce.
Serve as a spicy, yummy appetizer or a side dish.
* If you can’t handle spicy foods, we have a wonderfully tasty Shogo Ngoba recipe from our friend Dazie which has no spice at all. You can get that after you sign up for our free YoWangdu Tibetan Culture Newsletter. But you’ll have to be patient, since the shogo ngoba recipe is pretty deep in the queue of free, exclusive content we offer in that newsletter, set up to be delivered to you once a week for a couple of months and then once a month. (Of course there are a bunch of great free recipes that you’ll get before the shogo ngoba :-)