Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for potato salad south Indian-style
Throw together the words party and food, and it’s like travelling back to the 1980s, when, as a family, we partied hard. The key with the food was to have a few big things that could be made in batches and in advance, leaving you free to play the spoons for friends and your guests to help themselves. In that respect, these potatoes fit the brief perfectly: they can be eaten hot or cold, scaled up, made earlier, and get on well with all sorts of other flavours and dishes. In short, they’re on your side – they want to party, too.
You’ll need fresh curry leaves here, for the citrus and smoke notes they bring to the dish. You can buy them in Asian food shops, or order them online. Go large, buy a big bunch, strip off the leaves, store in a plastic container and freeze until you need them. If you can’t find any, just leave them out – the potato salad won’t be the same, but it will still be tasty.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
1kg baby new potatoes, washed
3 tbsp coconut oil
¾ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
5 large shallots (300g), peeled, halved and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
2 large handfuls (100g) cashew nuts
1¼ tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
2 tsp tamarind paste
200ml coconut milk
Cut the potatoes into large, bite-sized pieces, put them in a pan of water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender, then drain and put to one side to cool.
Put the oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat and, once it’s hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds start to wriggle and the curry leaves go crisp, add the shallots and cook, stirring, for about eight minutes, until they start to brown.
Add the garlic, ginger, chillies and cashews, and cook, stirring regularly, for another two minutes. Add the potatoes in a single layer and the salt, turn up the heat to high and fry for about five minutes, stirring once, until the potatoes brown slightly.
Stir through the tamarind paste, pour in the coconut milk and leave to cook, stirring regularly, until all the coconut milk has evaporated and turned into a sticky glaze. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold as part of a party spread.