Have you ever wondered about the amount of potato in an Indian diet? I have, on numerous occasions while trying to think up a curry for dinner at the very last possible second. Indian cuisine is as dependent on the ubiquitous potato as a Britain-born person may be to, say, the expression, “Blimey bugger!” Maybe I’m totally off the chart about the British person (because, you know, India was only a colony not the bloody country itself), but by god I’m right about our potato addiction. We make dry and wet curry out of it, we stuff it in our breads, we use it to increase the bulk of our vegetable dishes, in fact, there is no kitchen emergency that ek aloo (one potato) won’t solve.
I bought a pack of baby potatoes from the store this week intending to make dum aloo, a creamy dish of fried potatoes in tomato gravy. Then I had a sudden craving for something potatoey today but didn’t have time for the elaborate prep that dum aloo requires (much like cabbage kofta). So these smashed potatoes were born.
Now, neither have I invented the concept of smashed potatoes nor the combination of spices that were used. What I did do for the first time is put them together to create a yummy, crispy, sublime concoction that’s a pleasure to make (fast! easy!) and even better to eat. I don’t eat meat, but I can kind of guess all the excitement associated with crispy pig’s skin; the crackle of skin on these potatoes at first bite is an unparallelled mouth feel. Blimey.
This recipe serves 2, as a side.
15 baby potatoes, washed and unpeeled
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coriander powder (optional)
salt and lemon juice to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Approx. 1 cup boiling water
- Immerse the potatoes in boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
- Heat oil in a wide frying pan to smoking.
- While the oil is heating, lightly smash each potato with the palm of your hand.
- To the hot oil, add mustard seeds, cover and let them sputter. Add nigella seeds followed by the smashed potatoes. Reduce heat. Stir and arrange the potatoes in a single layer in the pan.
- Sprinkle salt, paprika, coriander powder, salt and let potatoes brown, even slightly burn, on each side. Show off your culinary skills by flipping potatoes in the pan without using a spatula.
- Turn off heat and finish with lemon juice and cilantro.
- Serve hot. If making earlier, give them another swish in a hot pan before serving to revive crispiness.
Though I served these as a side to a very Indian supper, these can easily be toothpicked and served as a snack with some chutney and ketchup. Versatility, thy name is a potato!