Thechwani: These Garhwali Potatoes Aren’t Sliced But Squashed
Image Credit: Pixabay, This robust potato curry comes with the goodness of radish too.

The usual and most common solution that my mother comes up with when I am really hungry is either potatoes or eggs. Both the things can be cooked up in a jiffy and don’t require too much preparation. The other good thing is that they are readily available in most households. The classic potato dish she prepares is jeera aloo. The potatoes are sliced into cubes and tempered with jeera, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric for colour, fresh coriander and Voila! My potato dish is ready. The versatility of potatoes is something that is no stranger to us. We can dunk it into curries, cook it dry or pair it with another vegetable too. 

Well, we can’t be thankful enough to the Portuguese who brought this lip-smacking vegetable to our land. Not only have we accepted it, you will not find a single cuisine where potatoes haven’t been adapted to the suit the local flavours. The hilly terrains of Uttarakhand are no exception. There is this yummy aloo ke gutke that is served in pahadi areas very commonly for lunch. This is a dry potato dish which is paired with roti. However, curry lovers, fret not. We have a lovely potato dish waiting for you too. 

The Uttarakhand’s famous dish called Thechwani. While in Maharashtra Thecha is a spicy red paste that is added to dishes to spruce them up, in the pahadi cuisine, thechwani is the name given to a robust potato curry. And well, it doesn’t have potatoes alone, you’ll also find radish mixed with it. The dish derives its name from its method of preparation which is also the USP of this potato curry. 

Thechwani comes from the word thinchao, which means to pound or squash in the local dialect of Garhwal. While cooking thechwani, the potatoes and other vegetables are not cut with a knife but simple squashed before being added to the curry. Not only potatoes, radish is also an important component of this recipe which is a well-kept secret of Uttarakhand. 

To prepare the classic Garhwali dish, you need to peel potatoes and radish. After that, add large pieces of the vegetables to a sil batta or mortar and pestle. Pound the veggies and then some ginger, garlic and green chillies. Next, take a frying pan and fry the latter ingredients in hot oil. Throw in the squashed potatoes and radish to this pan and sauté all of this together till it is half-cooked. At this stage, you need to start the tempering process by mixing together red chillies, asafetida and cumin seeds in another pan with oil. Fry some onions in it too with the remaining powdered spices. Add in your tomatoes and mash them well with some water. This works as a gravy for the potatoes. 

Now, it is time for you to add your potato-radish combination and stir it along with some more water over medium flame. Cook for a few minutes and serve hot. The thechwani is best eaten with steamed rice but chapatti works well too. 

Here’s a detailed lunch recipe of thechwani that you can try today.