by Renu Chhabra
If people take the trouble to cook, you should take the trouble to eat.–Robert Morley
It is hard to find someone who does not like potato.
From french fries, latkes, croquettes, gratins, fritters, hash browns, salads, to soups and stews — the list is endless. Most of us have our favorite potato dish or two.
This starchy tuber may seem like a very humble commodity, but is definitely celebrated in kitchens around the globe. Americans, Italians, Indians, French, or Irish — they all have their potato specialties making it difficult to ignore its place in the gastronomic arena.
My recent visit to India confirmed its importance even more.
Its versatility puts it in a bright spotlight there. Having a bowl of boiled potatoes in the fridge was a lifesaver in Indian kitchens. From breakfast to dinner, it had its special place at the table whenever need be. Stuff it between two slices of bread with some herbs and spices to make a warm sandwich for breakfast, mix it in some yogurt to make raita (yogurt dish) for lunch, or stir it in with some peas to make a stew for dinner.
These were just a few possibilities among many. And if friends stopped by, potato cakes with mint chutney welcomed them in no time. It was always there to help like a loyal companion. I was amazed by the power of the spud.
So get in the habit of boiling up a few potatoes and keeping them on hand in the refrigerator. Who knows they may well be your “lifesaver” in time of need.
One of my favorite herbs to pair with potatoes is dill. The two work beautifully together. Lemon is another ingredient that compliments both. I made this potato recipe with whole spices like cumin and nigella seeds that add a bite along with their distinct flavors. Paprika gives a light warmth, whereas dill and lemon add freshness to this simple dish.
This recipe is my childhood favorite with the addition of lemon. It was eaten as a side dish, and sometimes leftovers were used to make stuffed paratha, an Indian flat bread that was always an additional treat.
Ingredients3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon nigella seeds 1.5 lbs small white rose potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut in half
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons dill, chopped
Zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Serrano chilli (optional), chopped
- Heat oil in a large pan.
- Add cumin and nigella seeds, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in boiled potatoes, salt, and paprika.
- Cook on medium heat for two minutes until potatoes are coated well with spices.
- Add dill and lemon zest.
- Cook for another two minutes.
- Finish off with lemon juice and serrano chilli, if using.
- Garnish with dill.