TThe starting point for most of my recipes is vegetables in season. Truth be told, there are one or two veggies that make me wonder how many more ways they can be seen in a new light (not that I don’t like it, but sorry, asparagus), but not the potato. What some call the “humble” potato, I consider the most versatile, surprising and flexible of vegetables. This is due not only to how different one variety is from the following (waxy to mealy, nutty to creamy, dry to buttery, etc.) but also how much you can make with each type of potato. Even approaching a world, as I do today with potato salad, simply opens up new worlds of possibilities, textures, and flavors.
Nepalese potato salad (above photo)
Everyone who loves potato salad thinks their version is the best, so thanks to Chayato friend Neha for sharing her favorite Nepalese version, which celebrates spicy tamarind and fresh coriander, and letting my team play with it. If possible, start with tamarind from a block, because homemade puree is much more balanced (spicy, but less acidic) than many of the mixes. This works great as a stand-alone dish, served with a little yogurt, but it also goes simply with grilled meat, fish, and even eggplant.
Homework 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
It serves 4
For the pickle with chilli
4 green chilies (35g), thinly sliced at an angle
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon caster sugar
For the potatoes
1 kg of desired large potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then each quarter halved widthwise
200 g of butter
1 large onion (330g), peeled and thinly sliced
7g curry leaves (about 5 stems)
7 cloves of garlic (40g), peeled and thinly sliced
80 g coriander, 2½-3 tablespoons (10 g) of leaves collected and set aside for garnish, the rest chopped
For the spice mix
1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
80 g of sesame seeds, plus 20g extra, toasted, for serving
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
80 g of tamarind from a block, soaked in 100 ml of boiling water and sieved to collect approximately 120 g of puree
In a small non-reactive bowl, mix the chiles with the vinegar, a quarter teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar, and reserve to pickle (if desired, do so a day in advance).
Put two and a half liters of water and three tablespoons of salt in a large saucepan and put on high heat. Bring to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes, until tender but not split, then drain.
Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion, curry leaves, garlic, and minced cilantro, and fry, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft and smooth. begin to caramelize slightly. .
In the small bowl of a food processor or mortar, coarsely mash the mustard, nigella and sesame seeds, add to the onion pan with the turmeric and fry for a minute. Add the tamarind paste, remove the pan from the heat, then gently add the potatoes until they are well coated with the seasoned onion mixture and let sit for five minutes to absorb the flavors.
Transfer the potatoes to a large platter, or individual plates, spread the pickled chiles, toasted sesame seeds and reserved cilantro on top, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Potato salad with charred tomato and orange sauce
The sauce with these potatoes is inspired by sikil p’ak, a Mayan paste made from roasted pumpkin seeds, charred tomatoes and chili peppers, orange and cumin. Any excess pumpkin seeds will keep in an airtight jar for two weeks.
Homework 15 minutes
Cook 40 min
It serves two
800g of baby potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 2 cm pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, more extra to serve
2 teaspoons lime juice
3 chives, trimmed and thinly sliced (40g)
For the spicy and sticky seeds
100 g of pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the charred sauce
500g datterini or cherry tomatoes
3 large red chili peppers (50 grams)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons of orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons maple syrup
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350F / gas 4. Mix all the seed ingredients with a quarter teaspoon of salt, spread on a tray lined with wax paper and bake, stirring occasionally, for 16 minutes, until well toasted and caramelized. Remove and let cool.
Turn the oven to the highest grill setting. Place the tomatoes and chiles on a medium pan, grill near the top of the oven for 16 minutes, until well blackened in places, then remove and cool. Turn off the grill for now.
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add plenty of salt, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for about eight minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through but not falling apart. Drain well, then return the potatoes to the skillet and add the oil, lime juice, and an eighth teaspoon of salt.
Chop the charred chilies (remove and discard the seeds and marrow, if you prefer less spicy) and tomatoes to a sauce consistency, then pour into a bowl and add all the remaining sauce ingredients and half a teaspoon of salt.
Turn the oven to the highest grill setting. Add half of the sauce to the potato skillet and stir to combine. Place the other half on a cookie sheet, spread and roast for eight minutes, until it starts to brown on top.
To serve, place the potatoes on a platter and pour the grilled sauce on top. Sprinkle over the chives and some of the pumpkin seeds (you won’t need all of them, so save the leftovers for chopping), finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and serve hot.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism