Mustard- or Garlic-Spiked Crispy Potato Cakes

Maybe I’m partial to India, but I marvel at the country’s fascination with the potato, even though it is a relatively new crop. (It was brought in by Spanish and Portuguese merchants in the sixteenth century.) It’s the most affordable vegetable for even the poorest of the poor and no Indian meal feels complete without it.

From two disparate regions with remarkably different cooking and spicing styles—Mumbai on the west coast and Madras (now called Chennai) on the southeast coast—come two variations of crispy cakes: one spiked with roasted mustard seeds and lime, the other fragrant with garlic. Both are enrobed in a chickpea flour batter and fried to a gorgeous brown. They cannot be any more different in terms of flavors, but are equally addictive. - Raghavan Iyer

Faith made this recipe for us as part of a Cook the Book campaign for Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked by Raghavan Iyer. You can read her full post here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds medium-size red-skin potatoes

FOR THE MUMBAI VERSION

  • 6 slices fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter; no need to peel first), coarsely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 or 3 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded
  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

FOR THE MADRAS VERSION

  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh curry leaves
  • 2 or 3 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded, finely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

FOR THE BATTER

  • 1 cup chickpea flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup white rice flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Canola oil, for deep-frying

Directions:

  1. Peel the potatoes and place them in a medium-size saucepan. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to mediumlow, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork or knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the potato water and set it aside. Drain the potatoes. Divide them equally between 2 medium-size bowls. Mash each portion with a potato masher.
  2. Lay out 2 large pieces of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter.
  3. To make the Mumbai version, pile the ginger, garlic, chiles, and cilantro into a food processor. Pulse the medley into an herbaceous mince (do not puree). Scrape this into one of the bowls of potatoes. Sprinkle in the salt and turmeric and give it all a good mix. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, setting each portion onto one of the pieces of wax paper. Shape each into a ball, then flatten each into a disk about ½ inch thick and return it to the wax paper.
  4. To make the Madras version, add the cilantro, curry leaves (if using), and chiles to the second bowl of potatoes. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, sprinkle in the mustard seeds. Cover the pan right away as the seeds will start to pop, not unlike popcorn. Once the seeds finish popping, 10 to 15 seconds, remove the pan from the heat. Uncover it and sprinkle in the salt and the turmeric, which will bathe the oil with its sunny disposition. Scrape this all into the potatoes and pour in the lime juice. Stir well to incorporate all these ingredients into the potatoes. Divide, shape, and flatten this mixture as you did the Mumbai version, using the other piece of wax paper as the holding area.
  5. To make the batter, combine the chickpea and rice flours in a medium-size bowl and sprinkle in the salt and turmeric. Pour in half of the reserved potato water and whisk it in, making sure there are no lumps. Continue drizzling and whisking as much potato water as you need to make a batter that is slightly thicker than pancake batter.
  6. Pour oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches into a wok, Dutch oven, or medium-size saucepan. Heat the oil over medium heat until a candy or deep-frying thermometer inserted into the oil (without touching the pan bottom) registers 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with several layers of paper towels, for draining the cakes of excess oil. If you want to serve all the cakes at one time, set a wire rack over another cookie sheet, place it in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 175°F.
  7. Once the oil is ready, carefully scoop out ¼ cup of the hot oil and gently whisk it into the batter. The hot fat makes the cakes crispier when fried.
  8. Pick up a cake with your hand (a little messy but it works well) and gently drop it into the batter. Use your hand or a fork to carefully flip it over, then lift it out. (Make sure the cake gets completely coated.) Slide it into the hot oil. Coat and add another 5 cakes to the oil. Deep-fry the cakes, flipping them over with a slotted spoon, until they are reddish brown and crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer them with the spoon to the paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining cakes and batter. Serve each batch fresh from frying (can’t imagine why not!); or, after draining, set them on the wire rack in the oven preheated to 175°F to keep warm.
Print Recipe

Yield: Makes 24 cakes (12 of each version)

Source:

Recipe:
Chef Raghavan Iyer
Minneapolis, MN

Photo:
Faith Gorsky
Food Blogger
An Edible Mosaic

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