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Potatoes anyone?

By NERISSA CARD

For the past two months we have been getting dirty picking our first crop of potatoes.

It’s been such fun. You never know what you are going to pull up. We have had baby spuds, monster spuds, medium ones and they’re delicious. Nothing like the commercial varieties.

Suffice to say we have been making a lot of potatoes dishes. These are a few I have tried and tested. They are great as sides or main dishes.

KZN schools cook up a storm with solar ovens

I particularly like the first one, which I have been churning out for years. It is a filling for dosas, very thin, crispy Indian “pancakes”, but not having the kitchen space or confidence to attempt to make them, I use rotis instead. I also add peas to the recipe, which is from Australia’s SBS website, and garnish with coriander.

600g potatoes

4T olive or sunflower oil

1t mustard seeds

30 curry leaves

1 large onion, chopped

1C peas

¾t salt

½t turmeric

4 to 6 green chillies, finely sliced

2t grated root ginger

Coriander, mint and yoghurt (optional)

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and peel them, then semi-crush them with a fork or potato masher.

Set a wok or pan, about 20cm in diameter, over a medium heat. Pour in the oil and, when
it’s hot, add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop, then drop in the curry leaves. Stirfry for 30 seconds.

Add the onion and stirfry for about 5 minutes, until translucent.

Now pour in 120ml of water and the peas. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the onion softens completely.

Add the salt, turmeric, chillies and ginger. Mix well for 2 minutes.

Make sure that all the liquid has evaporated, then fold in the potatoes, making sure they are completely incorporated with the spices.

Fill rotis will the mixture, top with yoghurt, coriander and mint, and tuck in.

Tried and tested tastes of India

The following recipe, another favourite in The Meander Chronicle household, is from Recipes from an Indian Kitchen. It is a popular Indian dish called Aloo Gobi.

350g new potatoes

1 small cauliflower

2T vegetable oil

1t black mustard seeds

1t cumin seeds

5 cloves garlic crushed

1 to 2 green chillies, finely chopped and deseeded if you don’t like too much heat

½t turmeric

½t salt

2T fresh coriander, although I never stick to the measurements when it comes to coriander. I use heaps of the stuff

Boil potatoes in their skins until tender. Drain, then soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Peel them, if you like, then halve or quarter according to their size. They should be only slightly bigger than the size of the cauliflower florets.

Meanwhile, divide the cauliflower into small florets and blanch in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for three minutes. Drain and plunge into iced water to prevent further cooking, then drain again.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the mustard and cumin seeds. Remove from the heat and add the garlic and chillies. Return to a low heat and cook, stirring until the garlic has a light brown tinge.

Stir in the turmeric, followed by the cauliflower and potatoes.

Add the salt, increase the heat slightly and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are well blended with the spices heated through. Stir in the coriander and serve.

Weighing in on the great vegan debate

The basis of this next dish comes from a series of recipes books my mother collected for years. The name escapes me, but I have changed a few things, so hopefully I won’t have any copyright issues on my hands.

2T oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 slices of streaky bacon, chopped (optional)

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 cup stock

1t salt

½t pepper

2t paprika

1t mixed herbs

Soya sauce to taste

Melt the butter over a moderate heat. When the foam subsides add the onion, celery, garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for three to four minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent, but not brown.

Add the potatoes, carrots and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown.

Pour in the tomatoes, stock, salt, pepper, paprika and herbs. Bring to the boil over a moderate heat, stirring frequently.

Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

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