March 30, 2014

Spicy Indian Potatoes, "Batata Bhaji"

I've remarked before on this blog, probably several times, that I love potatoes every which way: boiled, fried, mashed, baked, roasted, in soups and stews. I enjoy making simple, flavorful recipes, made even better using my home-grown potatoes. Skillet recipes are great, such as Pan Roasted Potatoes with Anchovies from Marcella Hazan, or Southwest Potatoes from Mark Bittman. This simple Indian recipe uses two pots, one to boil the potatoes and a pan for frying them, and it is put together very quickly. The recipe comes from the book The Art of Indian Cooking by Monica Dutt; the book is out of print, rare, and expensive, although just a little paperback. Many years ago I ordered a box of paperback cookbooks and this may be my favorite of the dozen or so books that arrived. Indian recipes can be very daunting, but in this book they are simplified and easy to manage. For the potatoes I used a waxy potato, French Fingerling, which I grow every summer and are delicious boiled. I still have some in my root cellar, along with Carola, a potato similar to Yukon Gold, but better.

2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 teas mustard seed
1 onion, chopped
4 cooked potatoes, diced  (I would estimate about 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes)
1/4 teas turmeric
1 fresh or canned (I used a frozen red one from last summer) green chili pepper, sliced, seeds removed. Use less chili if you don't want too spicy a dish.
1/2 teas salt

  • Heat vegetable oil over medium heat and fry the mustard seed until they begin to crackle. 
  • Add the onion, fry until soft, around 5 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, cover, and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes. 

The author points out that these potatoes are served with puris, or as a filling for dosas. I think that they are wonderful as a side dish or main dish with another vegetable accompanying them; this week I had them with sweet and sour red cabbage. Serves 4.

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