There is nothing that makes me happier than sitting around the dinner table and talking until the candles are burned down.
A good meal always brings people together, spreads smiles, ignites conversations and warms hearts. Hospitality is not about showing off ones cooking skills or an elaborate menu, it’s about opening up your heart and home to your guests, and sharing the best of what you can offer. It can be something as simple, yet exquisite as these Aloo mewawale. Tiny bites, loaded with love and flavour.
Aloo mewawale or Dried Fruit stuffed baked potatoes is inspired by my mom’s recipe. It’s a party starter I always looked forward to and made sure I hid a few pieces for myself before the dish went out because these yummy bites just vanished in minutes.
Mewa or Dried fruits are an inseparable part of Afghani cuisine. Not just for desserts or snack, dried fruits are generously used as garnish or main ingredient in many savoury dishes. There is even a drink, called Haft Mewa, which is basically compote made from seven different dried fruits and nuts served in their own juices.
My mother fried these potatoes on low heat till they were crispy and golden on the outside. She filled them with dried fruit, boiled egg yolk and chopped herbs. I try to avoid frying wherever I possibly can, so I decided to bake mine and they turned out great. In fact, baking them was totally hassle free and I didn’t have to stand by the stove to keep an eye on them.
You can be creative with stuffing for these Stuffed Baked Potatoes but I strongly recommend that you keep the dried fruits and nuts as the star ingredient. My addition of cheese adds a little creaminess and binds the ingredients together.
It’s a unique and utterly delicious starter for any special occasion that your guests will remember for a long time. Best thing – can be prepared ahead.
3 large potatoes
4 dates, chopped
2 dried figs, chopped
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons cottage cheese/paneer
4 tablespoons mixed nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts) , crushed
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 green chilli pepper, finely chopped
A pinch salt
A pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
This Is What You Do:
Preheat oven at 170 degrees C.
Wash and peel potatoes.
Cut off tops (1/4 inch piece on one end).
With the help of an apple corer, a long spoon, or small knife, hollow the potatoes from the cut side. Take care not to pierce through side walls or other end.
Save the scooped out potato.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small frying pan.
Add scooped out potato, chopped dried fruits, crushed nuts and cottage cheese. Cook covered on low heat for 4-5 minutes or till the potatoes are somewhat tender and any liquid evaporates.
Season with salt and pepper. Mix in coriander and green chilli pepper.
Stuff this dried fruit and cheese mix back into the potato cavities. Fill as much as possible. (You might have a little left over that can be used as sandwich spread later on) .
Put the tops back, push them in a little (like a cork) to shut the cavities.
Brush the potatoes with remaining olive oil.
Place in an oven proof dish. Seal the dish with foil paper sheet.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Remove foil, and bake another 10 minutes or place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to crisp up and colour the potatoes on the outside.
When easy to handle, slice them into 1/4 inch thick discs. Serve warm with your favourite sauce.
Makes 18-20 pieces