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Coriander Potatoes

18 Oct

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I am very sorry to have to tell you this, but I have been holding out on you. For a few months now, I have been in possession of the simplest, most delicious side dish known to all of humankind, and I have not, as yet, shared it with you. There is no excuse for this, particularly when this recipe takes under 20 minutes to prepare, contains only a few simple ingredients, and is, I have delightfully discovered, so popular with those pickiest of eaters—children—that is disappears almost as quickly as a slice of chocolate cake. Almost. Not quite. This is a potato dish, mind you, not a plate of miracles.

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Inspired by my son’s favorite side dish at a nearby Lebanese restaurant, the potatoes are perfectly warm with coriander, spiked with a bit of fresh chiles, and tinged with just enough garlic to make them interesting, but not dangerous. I can’t recommend enough that you make this side dish a last-minute staple at your house, as it has become at ours.

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Last Year: Cheddar, Apple, and Poppy Seed Scones and Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Coriander Potatoes

1 ½ pounds potatoes (I use Russet, but I imagine a waxier potato would work just fine here as well), peeled and diced into ½-inch chunks

¼ cup olive oil, or a mixture of 2 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of ghee

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 small chile (a Serrano works well here), sliced into thin strips or rings (seeds and ribs removed if you desire less heat)

salt to taste

sprinkling of chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat olive oil (or olive oil and ghee mixture) in a large pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the coriander and allow it to sizzle and brown for 10 seconds. Add the potatoes, stir to combine with coriander and oil, then cover, lower heat to medium, and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until potatoes have just begun to soften. Add the minced garlic on top of the potatoes, but don’t stir to combine. Place lid back over potatoes, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add sliced chile, stir to combine, and cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste, then sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6 to 8 people as a generous side dish.

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Aloo Gobi Parathas

13 Jun

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As I may have mentioned before, my son does not like Indian food. Because of this, every Indian item I make tends to be focused on an effort to get my kid to at least taste it, and, in hope, want to eat more. Futile? Perhaps. But, believe it or not, when it comes to introducing my kid to the food of my ancestors, Indian food is the safer road to travel, being as though I am half Indian and half Scottish, and it seems much kinder to introduce parathas to an innocent child rather than force upon him the culinary horror that is haggis. Sheep’s lungs and liver boiled inside its own stomach, or flatbreads filled with potatoes and cauliflower? Parathas it is!

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The interesting conundrum about making Indian food for a child lies in the fact that Indian food is generally rich with spices and very particular flavors, and many children are instinctively put off by this. While it is not as though my kid will only eat pasta and baby carrots, he is definitely hesitant when it comes to the fragrant spices of an Indian dish. My only course of action in this situation is to tone down the spice quotient in recipes while also testing out ways to make them more appealing to the eating desires of a first grader. Because naan is always such a hit with children, it seemed only natural that parathas were next in line to be tested.

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The dough for these parathas could not be simpler. A mixture of whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and water, the dough requires little more than mixing, kneading, and resting, which leaves you a nice window of time to cook up the potato and cauliflower filling. I may be alone in feeling this way, but the next step—the rolling, folding, and rolling again—is one of my favorites.

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The rhythm of constructing each paratha while one simultaneously cooks on the stove is almost soothing to me, and there is nothing quite so satisfying as fortifying the work with a snack of fresh, hot paratha, working in bites in between rolling, turning, and cooking. Gently spiced cauliflower and potatoes folded into crisp flatbread is almost impossible not to love. Almost. Unless you are my son, in which case you will take a single bite of a paratha then turn away briskly, robotically intoning, “Don’t like it.” Alas, what one rejects, another embraces. None for him, but more for me. It’s not an entirely bad situation in which to be.

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Last Year: Multigrain Sandwich Bread and Chocolate Coconut Marble Cake

So many more Indian dishes can be found in the archives!

Aloo Gobi Parathas (Indian Flatbreads Stuffed with Potatoes and Cauliflower)

Dough:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

1 teaspoon salt

¾ to 1 cup water

Filling:

1 medium potato (about 8 ounces)

½ a head of medium-sized cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 ounces)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for cooking parathas

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 small jalapeno or other chile, finely minced (remove seeds and ribs before mincing to tone down the heat)

½ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flours with salt. Stir the flour mixture while slowly pouring in the water. The dough should need not quite the full cup of water in order to come together as a cohesive dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for around five minutes, until smooth and supple. If you are using a stand mixer, mix the dough together with the dough hook, then, when the dough comes together, knead for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is quite smooth. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.

While the dough is resting, make the filling.

Boil the potato, still in its jacket, until it can be easily pierced through with the tip of a knife. Set aside to cool. Steam the cauliflower florets until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large skillet or wok set over high heat, add the vegetable oil and swirl it around until it covers the pan. Add the mustard seeds and cook for about 20 seconds, until they begin to pop and sputter. Lower the heat a tad, add the turmeric and garlic, and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, peel the skin off of the boiled potato, and add it, along with the slightly cooled cauliflower, to a large bowl. Mash the cauliflower and potato together using a potato masher or, if you have strong forearms, a fork.

When the onions have become soft and slightly browned, add the chile and stir to combine. Add the mashed potato and cauliflower mixture, sprinkle with salt, and continue to stir and cook until the mixture is completely combined. The filling should be quite soft, and only slightly tinged with brown in places. Remove the filling to the bowl in which you mashed the potato and cauliflower. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

While the filling is cooling, prepare the paratha dough. Cut the dough in half, then into 8 pieces. Use your hands to flatten each piece into a disc. Coat each disc with a light dusting of flour. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to gently roll each disc into a rough 8-inch round, setting aside and covering each circle as you roll it out. Do not turn dough over while rolling.

Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling over one half of a dough round. Fold the bare half of the dough round over the filling, then fold in half to make a quarter-round wedge shape. Lightly pat the wedge flat, then gently roll it into a rough 8-inch round. Do not turn rounds over while rolling. Some filling will most likely sneak out the sides, but that is all right. Repeat with remaining dough rounds.

To cook the parathas, have ready a small bowl of vegetable oil of melted ghee. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee, and tip the skillet to coat it as much as possible. Lower the heat under the pan to medium-high, and place a paratha, top down, in the skillet. Cook for almost a minute, then turn the paratha over. Brush the surface of the paratha with a bit of vegetable oil of melted ghee, and cook for another minute and a half. Turn paratha over once more, and continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds, until the paratha is well spotted with brown patches on both sides. Remove to a plate, and cover to keep warm. Cook the remaining parathas in the same manner, adding another tablespoon or so of oil or ghee to the skillet in between each paratha.

Makes 8 parathas.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

16 May

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Foods can oftentimes lead double lives. A cake can masquerade as a bread (there are many instances of this), a breakfast can go undercover as a dessert, or vice versa, and a salsa can brand itself as such, when, in actuality, what it really happens to be is a salad. A hearty, healthy, super satisfying salad.

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The ever-changing identity of this salsa is, I think, one of its best attributes. Introduced to me by my sister-in-law, one of the first things I remember thinking about this salsa was, “I want to smear this on some bread and pile arugula on top of it.” I often think things like this, which is what, I assume separates me from people who just eat food that tastes good and then leave it at that. Sometimes I see food and immediately want to turn it into different food, but not because I think the original incarnation of that food is in any way bad. On the contrary, I am driven to play around with said food because it is so delicious, so multifaceted, that I think it should be given the chance to shine in every way possible.

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A salsa like this, hearty with savory roasted sweet potatoes and onions, can be moved in several directions. With chunks of fresh avocado and tomato, it certainly works as an appetizer to be scooped up by tortilla chip, but, piled on top of a bed of greens, it would also make a great salad. You can fold in some black beans and take it to a potluck as a summer salad to share. You can, as I mentioned before, slather it on lightly toasted bread and top it with some arugula and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Of course, you can also eat it as is, with no tortilla chips, which is what I initially did after mixing it together, taking a taste, then discovering that I was finding it difficult to stop tasting. Because even though this salsa makes a great starting point for many different dishes, it also happens to be pretty darn fantastic on its own.

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Last Year: Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and Spicy Ginger Garlic Potatoes and My Favorite Raita

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Adapted from an Everyday Food recipe shared by my sister-in-law

1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and diced into small chunks

1 medium red onion, diced into small chunks

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium tomato, diced into small chunks

1 medium avocado, diced into small chunks

1 small jalapeno pepper, finely diced, ribs and seeds removed it you want to tone down the spice. Alternately, you can just add 1/8-¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes if you don’t have a jalapeno pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)

sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. On a large baking sheet, toss together the sweet potato chunks, diced red onion, and olive oil. Roast in the center of the oven until the sweet potato is tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely.

When sweet potato mixture has cooled, add tomato, avocado, jalapeno or red pepper flakes, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and toss to combine.

Makes about 4 cups of salsa.

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