Adventures in curry leaves

I don’t care what anyone says about tofu’s versatility. It has nothing on the lowly potato.  Fry them, roast them, coat them in a slick of olive oil with salt and pepper, and you have dinner. Ok, maybe not the most balanced dinner, but let a girl dream once in a while. If you want something green, broccoli, potato, and sharp cheddar cheese is even tasty if you do get lazy and make everything in a microwave. Not that we own a microwave.*

If you haven’t gathered this already, I will never tire of potatoes.

But I thought I had tried pretty much every variation I could think of, until I came across this recipe from 50 great curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi.  These potatoes are boiled, and then tossed in hot oil with some turmeric, mustard seeds, lentils, chile powder, and curry leaves.  The curry leaves are reminiscent of garam masala, but more vibrant somehow, and they transfer their frangrance to the potatoes far more thoroughly than I would have expected from a quick toss in a pot.

The end result? The most addicting, exotic homefries you will ever taste.  Hot or cold, this dish is both simple and impressive, and goes quite well with any sort of curry.  Or you could just eat them for dinner as is.

The only catch, really, is finding a source of fresh curry leaves.  Around here, the only place I’ve ever seen them is the Asian market in M&M farms, which seems to get boxes of them in sporadically.  Luckily, they freeze well, so stock up.

*For the record, we killed ours. It is resting peacefully in the basement, along with all our other broken stuff that I loathe to get rid of when we finally get out of this city for good.

Recipe after the jump.

Curry potatoes

Serves 4

Difficulty: Easy, apart from ingredient sourcing

Cost: Cheap

Adapted from from 50 great curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi.  I used red lentils instead of urad dal and cayenne pepper instead of chile powder, since that’s what I had on hand, and I didn’t bother peeling the potatoes.  It wouldn’t hurt to skin and cut the potatoes into quarters before boiling, though I kept them whole and didn’t bother peeling them.

  • 8 small-medium potatoes. We used red and left the skin on, which worked pretty well for this dish. Yukon gold would also be a good choice.
  • 1/2 t. turmeric powder
  • salt
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. mustard seeds
  • 1 t. red lentils
  • ~20 curry leaves
  • 1/2 t. cayenne
  • 1/4 t. sugar

In a large pot, cover quartered potatoes with water and bring to boil.  Add turmeric and a large pinch of salt.  When they’re still fairly firm but can be pierced through with a fork, drain.

Heat the oil in the bottom of the large pot.  Add the mustard seeds, red lentils, and cayenne.  Toss for a few seconds, add a little water, turn the heat down low, and cook for a few minutes, until the lentils are soft.  Turn up the heat, add the sugar, a little salt, the curry leaves, and the potatoes.  Toss in the oil and spices, and cook for a few minutes, until the potatoes are heated through, a few are a little crispy from the oil, and the curry leaves are making the whole dish smell irresistable.  Serve immediately for crispy goodness, though curry potatoes, like pizza, are excellent for breakfast, straight out of the fridge.


Filed under main, potatoes, side, vegan, vegetarian

2 responses to “Adventures in curry leaves

  1. Dad

    Sounds yummy. I love the smoky taste that curry leaves add to lightly fried basmati rice. Hello from Santa Barbara, Elizabeth.

  2. liz

    Oh, go to the beach for me. Curry leaves and basmati sound delicious…

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