Sunday, May 8, 2011

Batatyacha Kees (Spicy Grated Potatoes)

There was a point in time when I thought she was the villain in my life. There was a point in time when I was convinced she was my worst enemy.

She had problems with my sense of style, she had reservations about my choice of clothes.
That dress? The one with the sequins? Are you serious?
The bright red shade of nail polish? Too flashy for your age.
I called her old-fashioned. After all at 15, I was convinced I had a better idea of fashion and style than her. Once I was financially independent, I would buy what I wanted, I decided.

She curbed my freedom, she doubted my ability to take care of myself.
All girls weekend out to celebrate the class 12 results? No way!
Discotheque? And in those clothes? Perish the thought.
Wait till I am 18 and old enough to move out of the house, I thought. I would do as I pleased!

She was extremely strict with my interactions with anyone other than family, she was always mistrustful of people I thought were perfectly nice.
Sleep on the terrace during summer holidays with a group of friends? Never.
Go to the 27 year old neighbour's (uncle's) house who lived alone and chat while she fetched my sister from school? Don't you dare.
I used to get confused by her behaviour sometimes. At times, I used to pity and get angry at her suspicious nature. I would not grow up and be like her, I swore.

It took me some years to finally realise that she was right about most things that she let or did not let me do, that whether she was right or wrong, she did have her valid reasons for the decisions she made. It has taken me longer to actually admit that as a teenager, I made life very difficult for her.

Today, I know that my mother is someone who became the villain in my life so that she could keep me safe always. She was that enemy who was driven by only one motive - my well-being.

My mom's cooking is sometimes counter - intuitive , but always simple. Not too many frills and absolutely fuss-free. She never made any attempts to teach me cooking believing that cooking was something that would come naturally to me whenever I had to handle my own kitchen. There is no need to learn cooking, she would say. Focus on your studies instead.

I, on the other hand, would pester her with my food demands and help her when she asked me to only after whining and registering my displeasure. You always disturb me just when the novel's reached an interesting juncture, I would complain.

Ironically, today, whenever I go home, I want to help her out in the kitchen and she pushes me out. Don't tire yourself, I tell her. It is my right to pamper you, she counters.

Batatyacha kees is something that is normally made for upvas (religious fast) but growing, this was one of my favourite food and would get made for breakfast or with tea in the late afternoons.

Think of it as an Indian version of hash browns - just a little more nutritious with the addition of nuts and definitely tastier than hash browns!


Potatoes: 2 medium
Sweet potato*: 1 medium
Roasted peanuts: 1/2 cup
Fresh chillies**: 2-3, more or less depending on your personal spice preference
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Juice of half a lemon
Oil or ghee: 1.5 tbsp

(*normally, batatyacha kees is made with only potatoes, but my mom also uses sweet potatoes because they are very nutritious and for the delicate sweet flavour they impart.
**I use red and green chillies only to make the kees look colourful)


Wash the potatoes thoroughly, grate them (I normally grate them with the skin, you could peel them if you so desire) and soak them in water.

After about 5 minutes, discard the water and soak the potatoes in a fresh change of water for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pound or grind the peanuts into a coarse powder.
(If you want to know how to roast and crush peanuts, hop on over to Nupur's blog One Hot Stove for a very comprehensive post on roasting and grinding peanuts).

Drain the water the potatoes were soaking in. Squeeze out the water completely by pressing small batches of the drained potatoes between your palms.

Melt the ghee in a wok. When hot, add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to splutter, toss in the chillies.

Then add the grated potatoes, turn up the heat and stir fry till the potatoes are cooked. Finally add the crushed peanuts and stir for a further 2 minutes. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and serve hot.


  1. For a second there I thought you were describing my relationship with my mom when I was a teenager. I turned from a good, shahni mulgi, to a mouthy brat overnight! Those were some tough years for my poor mom.
    Love the batatachya kees. My aaji used to make the best.
    I am liking the addition of sweet potato. And you are so right, the kees is so much better tasting than hash browns.

  2. The article surely resonates the feelings and life of many of us when we were teenage. Rebel, argue, fight, nag..have done all. But as you said it correctly mom does all just for one motive - our well being!
    Love the recipe, will make it with sweet potato.

  3. Yumm yumm, delicious and mouthwatering spicy grated potatoes..delicious...Well written,loved reading..

  4. Isnt this every girl's story ? I hated Ma for not allowing me so many "privileges" and curbing down what I termed as fun . I see myself repeating the same with my daughters .
    Of course I had to tell her how much I appreciated what she did but then I was much older

  5. I hear you - but when I got older I realised I'd have probably behaved the same way or worse - the truth is, we seem to be turning into our mums and grandmums, naturally or despite ourselves!

  6. I believe we all go through the same phase, convincing ourselves of the thought that parents can only be our enemies...UNTIL we start living independently, until we become parents.
    Very simple and looks delicious!And speaking of mom's cooking, never appreciated her getting up at 4 in the morning to cook and pack my lunch..Bad ME!!

  7. This is a nice one... truly delicious with the addition of sweet potatoes and groundnuts. Lovely writeup, it was wonderful to read.... reflects a difficult phase in every teen's life. Bless all the wonderful moms out there:) First time here and enjoyed browsing around... Glad to follow u.. would love to come back to read some more... great work..:)

  8. Your story is very similar to mine. Also felt annoyed that my brothers got more freedom than me but now I am a mum - I understand that my mum was trying to protect me in her own way.

    Love the potato recipe. Will try it soon.

  9. Hmm..everyone of our age can relate to d same...:)
    loved d recipe..anything wid potatoes would b damn tempting..isn't it?

  10. I thought so too! Now I wonder how my mom put up with the 8 plaits I wore to college (yes, it is true)! It is so true that inevitably we draw inspiration from the same people we swore never to be like:D.

    I have had this in office. Like you said during upvas days! And it is tasty.

  11. I am walking in your mother's shoes (and my mother's shoes). I understand why my mother did what she did and I know why I do what I do. I can only hope for some understanding when the teen angst is all done with. :-)

    Batatyacha kees is such a great alternative to hash browns. I love it with ratala (yam) even more!

  12. wow first time to your blog and I am loving it..... i can retaliate your behavior towards ur mom when in teens coz for me my mother was the biggest saying "Nay" everytime I approach her with rants.... loved reading all thru the end... nice bewrite up. Btw batatyacha kees is my fav too... being brought up in kalyan, I love maharashtrian food...
    Do visit mine when u find time
    Padma's Kfitchen

  13. Very beautifully written! And nice recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  14. wow, u have a wonderful space.

    1st time here and following you.

  15. This is such a lovely recipe. I've never come across it and look forward to giving it a try this weekend.

    I just came across your site and am enjoying your posts, recipes and drool-worthy photography. Look forward to following your culinary journey and gaining some inspiration! Thank you.

  16. omg- the read looked like a recap of my growing years, exactly the same words, the same thoughts behind my mom's actions - got goosebumps while reading, great read and the grated potatoes simply rock !

  17. u have a nice space .... delicious breakfast ..... lovely pictures...... glad to follow u .....

  18. This looks have a lovely blog...I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that

  19. love the pics and the story accompanying it too !! Villains we all have during our grown up years, and dont we love our moms for that !! ?? Lovely space dear :)


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