The Deep Flavor of this Vegan Indian Dish Will Make Your Tongue Smile
Of all the world’s cuisines, India’s may have the most numerous and flavorful recipes for potatoes. Today’s dish is a good example: It’s rich with ginger, garlic, and spices.
Although these potatoes go well in a traditional Indian meal, they are equally at home when nestled up to a roast. They have just enough spice and flavor to make you sit up and take notice, but not so much that they’ll dominate the entire meal.
They may dominate the dinnertime conversation, though, as your guests exclaim over their terrific flavor.
Recipe: Spicy Potatoes with Ginger and Garlic
This dish works best when you prepare part of it ahead of time. It’s especially good when made with precooked (or leftover) boiled potatoes — so you can do that part a day ahead if necessary. Then several hours before you plan to serve it, you can put together the ginger-and-garlic paste, and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. Total preparation time is 15 to 20 minutes. When you’re ready to finish the dish, actual cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes.
This recipe is adapted from my favorite Indian cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (the 1982 version written to accompany a BBC TV program; now out of print, alas).
The recipe serves 6 to 8. Leftovers keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
- ~2 pounds waxy potatoes (depending on size, 6 to 8)
- ~2 tablespoons grated or minced fresh peeled ginger
- 3 - 6 cloves garlic (I like garlic so I use more; you may prefer less)
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ - ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 or 2 tablespoons water (see Step 2)
- 4 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds (optional)
- 2 tablespoons washed and chopped cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
- Several hours (or the night before) you want to make this dish, prepare your potatoes. I suggest scrubbing, peeling, and dicing them, then preparing them as you would for Potato Salad. If you follow that recipe, you may want to undercook them just a bit — they'll finish cooking in Step 4 of this recipe. Once they’ve firmed up (Step 6 of that recipe), spread them on a kitchen towel and allow to cool. Then place them in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to proceed with this recipe. See Notes for an alternate way of preparing potatoes.
- Next, you need to prepare the ginger-garlic spice mixture, which you can make either several hours ahead of time, or just before you are ready to use it. Peel the ginger and garlic and chop roughly. Put it in the jar of a mini food processor or blender. Whirl a few times to mince. Scrap down the sides, and add the turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add just enough water so you can make a paste (if using a blender, you may need to double the amount of water). Whirl the food processor until a paste forms. Scrap the contents of the work bowl into a smaller bowl. You can cover the paste and refrigerate until you’re ready to proceed with Step 3; or proceed right away.
- About 12 minutes before you’re ready to serve this dish, remove the potatoes and ginger-garlic mixture from the refrigerator. Place a 10” (or larger) skillet, preferably non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron, over medium heat. When it’s hot (it takes about 2 minutes), add the oil and allow it to heat. When the oil is hot (it shimmers; this takes seconds if the skillet is hot), add the fennel seeds if using. They’ll sizzle; let them cook for 10 seconds, then add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir, and cook that for two minutes.
- Add the potatoes, stir to coat with the ginger-garlic paste, and fry over medium heat until they have a nice golden crust on them. This takes about 7 minutes or so.
- Serve with an optional garnish of chopped cilantro.
- There’s another way of preparing the potatoes: You can scrub them, then boil in their jackets until done (typically 15 minutes or so; when you stick a fork in the potatoes, they’ll still be just barely firm). Drain and let them cool completely. Store them in the refrigerator until ready to use. Then peel, and cut into dice of between ¾ to 1 inch, and proceed with recipe. This is a great method if you’re preparing plain boiled potatoes for a meal the night before – just make extras, and use the leftovers.
- This is one of those dishes where you can play with the measurements a bit – altering them to suit your taste. I suggest making this dish first as written so you have a baseline, then changing it the next time you make it.
- You can add some ground dried cumin and coriander to the ginger-garlic paste if you wish (a teaspoon or so of each; add it with the turmeric). This will give you an even spicier dish.
- This is a “dry” dish as opposed to a liquid curry. It’s excellent with Tandoori Chicken. Or, as noted above, with a roast — chicken, beef, and pork are all good bets.
- It’s also a great dish to serve at a barbecue. You can even serve it cold – it’s still mighty good.
Winding Up Indian Fortnight
We’ve had two weeks of delicious Indian recipes here on Kitchen Riffs. We started off with Pink Dal with Swiss Chard and followed that up with Aromatic Yellow Rice. Then we made Summer Squash in Tomato Curry Sauce before grilling a terrific main course dish, Tandoori Chicken. Today, we finish up Indian Fortnight with this great-tasting potato dish. (I’ve never served it to anyone who didn’t fall in love with it!)
With all these recipes to choose from, there are enough options to make an entire meal (or two!) from the various offerings. The chicken will satisfy the cravings of any meat eater at your table. Or combine the dal with the rice, and you have a hearty entrée for your vegan or vegetarian friends. Or do as I sometimes do — serve all the dishes at the same meal. Too much food, but everyone has a lot to choose from, and no one will go hungry. And the leftovers are wonderful.
Bon appétit! Or as they might say in Hindi, āp kā khānā svādiṣṭa ho.
You may also be interested in reading about:
Summer Squash in Tomato Curry Sauce
Pink Dal with Swiss Chard
Aromatic Yellow Rice
Sweet Potatoes in Curry Sauce
Red-Braised Beans and Sweet Potatoes
Vegan Mapo Tofu
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans Roast Belgian Endive
Braised Belgian Endive
Roast Sweet Potatoes