This is one of the basic ways of cooking vegetables in eastern India. The vegetables are first cooked in a broth scented with Panch Phoron, a blend of five spices, and then pan-roasted. Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, are particularly well suited to this technique but you can use any seasonal vegetables, remembering to adjust the cooking time. For great flavor and color use purple or Yukon Gold potatoes. For a hotter dish, stir in 1 teaspoon chopped chiles or 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper with the Panch Phoron.
A blend of five whole spices - cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek, and nigella - Panch Phoron is a Bengal classic. It is used to flavor fish, vegetables, chutneys, and, on occasion, legumes. Although the blend can be assembled at the last minute since there is no roasting involved, I suggest making it ahead if only because measuring spices takes time.
2. Fry the potatoes, turning and tossing until evenly coated with spices and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover and pan-roast until the excess moisture has evaporated and the potatoes are browned.
3. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Makes 1/2 cup
Combine all the spices in a jar, cover, and store in a cool, dry place.
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