Heirloom recipes: dry potato curry

I’ve been craving the dry potato curry my dad used to make for ages because I couldn’t find the nigella seeds I needed to complete my panch phoran spice mix. My local supermarket recently extended its range of spices, so I’ve stocked up on the five seeds that make up this fragrant spice blend.

Panch phoran

Mix whole spices in equal parts:
Nigella, also known as black onion seed
Black mustard seed
Whole cumin seed
Fennel seed

Dad’s dry potato curry is my ultimate comfort food, and as my other half says, it’s also ‘a bloody good curry in general’. The whole spices and ample salt lend the spuds a rich, complex flavour that warms you right through. Its dry earthiness demands a tart and liquid accompaniment, which in my childhood would often be saag prawn, but tonight I have chosen a scrummy beetroot curry recipe. The beetroot curry needs a bit of tweaking to my taste, it’s hot, sweet and a little flat, but I love the cinnamon and lime, and of course, the colour. The potato and beetroot curries and some plain basmati rice, total a delicious and inexpensive meal for 3-4 people that takes about an hour and a quarter to make.

Dry potato curry

400g/1lb waxy potatoes
1tbsp ghee or light oil
1tsp panch phoran
1 medium onion
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp salt
Dry or fresh chilli, to your heat preference. I used 1 hot green chilli, deseeded
50ml hot water
1tsp garam masala
Good squeeze fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh mint, to serve

Cut potatoes roughly in half or quarters, depending on their original size. Small new potatoes can be left whole. I prefer to leave skins on.

Heat oil or ghee and fry panch phoran for 1-2 mins before adding the chopped onion.

When the onion is golden, add the turmeric, chilli and salt and cook off the spices for a minute or so before adding the potato and hot water.

Clamp on a lid and let the potato steam over a very low heat for about 20 minutes.

Stir every so often to ensure the potato doesn’t stick, but be careful not to add much more liquid.

Add garam masala and lemon juice and cook for a further 10 mins until the potato is soft.

Serve with chopped fresh mint or coriander and a wedge of lemon.

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