Cubed Potatoes with Fresh Fenugreek
This everyday vegetable is popular throughout North and Central India. Earth-specked new potatoes –no bigger than marbles and fresh fenugreek greens are sold in vegetable bazaars from Amristar to Benares. New potato skins rub away easily during washing, and what little remains is paper thin and negligible. Fresh fenugreek greens vary from source to source and no matter what the leaf size, be sure to trim off thick stems they tend to toughen when cooked. The flavor from young leaves is pleasingly bitter, something like the nippy heat from sprouted mustard or cress, and are quite effortless to grow in a kitchen or window sill herb garden. Fenugreek is usually available fresh at Indian groceries and is always available dried though the packages usually contain more stems than leaves. If you can’t get the fresh greens, substitute spinach and add a pinch of powdered roasted fenugreek seeds for flavor. For variations, try the dish using different oils ghee, mustard oil or peanut oil. All three are surprisingly different and tasty.
Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
• Medium-sized waxy red – 1 ½ pounds (685 g)
• New potatoes or walnut-sized baby reds
• Mustard oil, peanut oil or ghee – 5 table spoons (75 ml)
• Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Black mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Chopped fenugreek greens or leaf spinach, (washed and trimmed) – 1 ½ cups (360 ml)
• Paprika or cayenne pepper – ¼ teaspoon (1 ml)
• Turmeric – ½ teaspoon (2 ml)
• Salt – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Garam masala – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Lemon or lime juice – 2 teaspoon (10 ml)
1. Wash the potatoes and boil them in their skins until they are just fork-tender. Do not overcook. Drain them and spread out to cool. Peel and cut into ¾ -inch (2 cm) cubes.
2. Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy 12-inch (30 cm) nonstick frying pan. Let mustard oil reach the smoking point. Sauté the potatoes quickly until they begin to brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Add the cumin and mustard seeds to the hot oil and fry until the mustard seeds turn gray and sputter. Stir in the fenugreek greens or spinach, paprika or cayenne, turmeric and a sprinkle of water, cover and reduce the heat to moderately low. Cook for 8- 10 minutes, then add the potatoes, salt and garam masala. Shake the pan or gently toss to mix, cover and cook until the potatoes are heated through. 4.
4. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice before serving
5 or 6
5 or 6
By Yamuna Devi Dasi