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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spiced Smashed Potatoes

I was introduced to a Muslim spice merchant in Cape Town, so naturally I stocked up. Even before we signed the papers on the car, I had boxes of kitchen gadgets, bags of spices and a case of wine ready to go. Priorities. Although I was tempted, space limitations prohibited me from bringing my favorite cookbooks from home. So this trip has been all about improvising…and I must say, I have created some really yummy dishes based on what's in the veggie bin. With a spice container the size of a large cereal box, the possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Here is my dressed up version of smashed potatoes, Indian style, a tastier (and healthier) alternative to the classic mashers with butter and cream.

Spiced Smashed Potatoes

Ghee or butter
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ - 1 chili pepper, diced
3 onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 sprigs of curry leaves
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon leaf masala or garam masala
2 large potatoes, washed and diced
1 large cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup fresh or frozen peas
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ - ¾ cup yogurt

In a sauté pan over medium heat combine cumin and mustard seeds, shaking the pan until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the chili and onions; cook until the onions are browned.

Meanwhile combine the garlic, bay, coriander, curry leaves, turmeric and masala in a small bowl and set aside until the onions are nice and golden. When the onions are ready add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the onions are browning steam the potatoes in a saucepan with a lid. In order to retain nutrients, steam the potatoes using as little water as possible, usually 1/3 cup will do it. Add the salt and the cinnamon stick and cook just until they are tender. Drain off any excess water, toss out the cinnamon stick and add the peas. Cover the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes, or until peas are warmed through. Add the spiced onions, cilantro and yogurt to the potatoes and peas smashing the mixture with a potato masher. Leave it fairly chunky. Salt to taste and serve drizzled with additional yogurt and sprinkled with salt and extra chilies (if you like it hot).

This makes a fantastic meal on its own or you can try it served over a savory waffle, folded into a tortilla and pan fried or piled on top of a grilled portabella.


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