Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spicy Potato Curry

While I grew up eating curry, having lived in Trinidad as a child, Trinidadian curries tend to use a single curry powder, premixed from a variety of ground spices, so I was unfamiliar with the myriad of spices used in Indian curries.  In the early days of catalog shopping, I came across a boxed set of Indian spices from Penzeys that came along with a delightful little paperback book called Spice Kitchen by Madhur Jaffrey that not only explained what each spice was (with illustrations!) but included great recipes for all of the author’s childhood favorites.  You know I had to order it.  This was before the days of internet so I faxed my order north and one of my husband’s accommodating rig hands brought it to me in Brazil, where we were living at the time and where Indian spices were never found in the stores.  That little book is one of the most used, stained up, well-loved books in my cookbook collection.  And I have saved the beautiful spice containers though their spices have long been used up.

One of my personal favorites from that book is Bazaar Potatoes.  They are spicy and peppery and delicious and also beautiful to look at with their sprinkling of brown mustard seeds, kalonji, cumin, fennel and fenugreek cooked with bright red ripe tomatoes.  My only regret is that there is hardly any sauce.  When it comes to curry, in fact for most dishes, the sauce or gravy is my favorite part.  So I like to mash up (in the musical sense) two recipes to come out with a potato curry that still has all the color and spice of the original Bazaar Potatoes but also has a wonderful aromatic curry sauce that is perfect for pouring over rice or dipping your naan or chapati in.

I usually have Burmese curry paste on hand because my original recipe makes enough for two or three pots of curry and it keeps beautifully in the freezer.  (Head over there and have a look.  It's not hard with a blender.)  I spoon about two good serving spoons worth and put it aside.  Then I follow Ms. Jaffery’s instructions until it is time to add the potatoes to the spices.  And I add in the Burmese curry paste, and then the potatoes and a goodly amount water.  The result is a lovely saucy potato curry.  Follow along with me.  

Approximately 4 oz or 100g Burmese curry paste from this recipe here.
6 medium, waxy potatoes (about 1.3 lbs or 600g)
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon kalonji
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
3 medium-sized tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
 (The original recipe also called for a small amount of fresh ginger and garlic but I omit these since I am adding both with the Burmese curry paste.  I also leave out the dried chilies since the paste has a generous helping of cayenne.)

Give your potatoes a good scrub but don't peel them.  Then, in a large pot with ample water, put them on to boil.  

With a sharp knife, cut an X into the bottom of your three tomatoes and put them in a narrow heatproof bowl.

Meanwhile, when your potatoes are cooked, drain the boiling water into a heatproof bowl holding your three tomatoes.   Give them a few minutes to loosen the peels and drain the water off the tomatoes too. 

Allow them both to cool enough to hold and peel them.  I use a fork and a sharp knife when mine are still quite hot because I think tomatoes and potatoes are easier to peel when still hot.  Also, this is how my maternal grandmother always peeled potatoes for her famous potato salad with homemade mayonnaise and I like to think about her sitting at her usual place at the kitchen table while I do it.  I miss her.

Break the potatoes into pieces with your hands.  You can cut them but breaking them gives rougher edges to absorb the spices and I think it looks nicer too.   Set aside.

As for the tomatoes, cut them in half and remove their seeds.  Chop the halves further into large pieces.

In a pot that is going to be large enough for your potatoes with room for stirring, heat a little olive oil.   Throw in the rest of the seasoning and the bay leaf.  Let those sizzle for a couple of minutes, then add in the curry paste.  Give it all a good stir.

Now add in the tomatoes and stir. 

Add in the cooled potatoes and season to taste with sea salt.  At this point, I also add enough water to make a goodly amount of sauce, about 2 cups or 500ml. 

Cook over a slow fire for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomato chunks are starting to melt into the sauce.  You do not want them to disappear completely.  

Serve with rice or fresh naan or chapatis. 


(If you have leftover potato curry, click here!  I used mine to make curry puffs.  So easy and delicious!)

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  1. Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted your entries and pinned them to the Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :) Hope your join us next week! Cindy

  2. I sure appreciate that, Cindy! Thank you so much for hosting.

  3. Love this! Looks super delicious...potato curries are one of my fav comfort foods. :)

  4. So sorry I missed this comment, Sara! It's one of ours too. My younger daughter never fails to ask for this dish when she is at home.


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