Fumbling Through Aunty Meera's Crispy Potato Cakes, 20 Years Later

I don’t have a single aunt—and I have many aunts, since both my parents had four siblings each—whose food I don’t adore. Aunty Meenu makes amazing Punjabi lamb chops, while Aunty Bindiya churns out Sindhi loli, a spiced roti more similar to pie crust than naan, like a queen. Aunty Rupa always invited us over for late morning meals (if breakfast daal isn’t a thing, she made it one). But dinner was Aunty Meera’s territory, and it didn’t come without a party.

Aunty Meera lived in a high floor of a building, maybe the 12th or 14th, and my brother and I often raced each other up the stairs to see who got there first. Before long, we were all seated by the TV, which played either a cricket match or a Bollywood music video countdown. That’s when the crispy, spicy aloo tikki—or potato croquettes, which I prefer to call “cakes” because that sounds less fancy—came out of the kitchen. Aunty Meera had placed a bottle of ketchup on the coffee table before we got there, because that’s the classic accompaniment. It offsets the spiciness of the green chile, and the tomato adds some acidic sweetness.