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Spiced Potato Burgers

10 Aug
Potato cakes or burgers like these are sometimes referred to as chops by Indian cooks and are one of the most popular chaat or snack foods of India where they are called Aloo Tiki, Tikkia, Tikiya or Tikya. I’ve done a fair bit of experimenting with the idea of these cakes and this is my version of them. They are pretty versatile and make a great snack, starter, lunchbox or finger food.
Makes 6 – 8 cakes
  • 3 large potatoes (cooked)
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch ground black peppercorns
  • pinch cumin seed (dry roasted & ground)
  • pinch ground chilli
  • 2 green chillis (de-seeded and minced)
  • small handful coriander leaves minced
  • 1 spring onion, minced or grated
  • grated ginger (optional)
  • oil for frying
  • fresh dried breadcrumbs to coat
Peel the potatoes and crush with your hands into a bowl, you don’t want a puree but a chunky mash. Season generously and to taste with salt, pepper, chilli and cumin, mix well then stir in the green chill, onion and coriander leaf and some ginger if using.
Divide the mixture into 6 to 8 portions depending on how large you want the cakes. Squash the mixture together and shape into balls. Flatten each ball of potato mixture into a cake the shape of a small burger. 
To cook 
There are four ways of cooking potato cakes like these:
  1. Shallow fry; in a frying pan or on a griddle with a little oil.
  2. Dip the cakes in beaten egg and shallow fry as above.
  3. Dip the cakes in beaten egg then coat in dried breadcrumbs and shallow fry as above.
  4. Dip the cakes in beaten egg then coat in breadcrumbs and deep fry.
Update Version 3 also works really well baked in an oven 180c for 15 minutes.
Personally I find the cakes dipped in egg then dried breadcrumbs and pan fried with a little oil are by far the best or as above baked, they hold their shape well and develop a lovely crisp outer shell which makes them more portable and suitable as snack, lunchbox, or finger food. The uncoated ones soak up too much oil, the egg coated ones make the cakes taste eggy and a bit soft and I try to avoid deep frying. I love fried food, so once I’ve got a pan of oil on the stove I am lost, I’d be eating fried food breakfast, lunch and dinner. It must be my Scottish upbringing that gives me the compulsion to deep fry everything.
I also like the cakes stuffed with a minty onion relish before being coated and fried. Choose your own method and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve sprinkled with a little chaat masala or with a tomato chutney or tamarind chutney and an onion relish.
Variations on spicing i sometimes add grated ginger when not stuffing and a pinch of garam masala for a warm zing. Although this is an Indian inspired recipe you can use any spices you like, they don’t have to be Indian flavours and you can use parsley or other fresh herbs with great results.
Gluten free version For those who cannot tolerate wheat instead of the breadcrumbs use crushed rice vermicelli noodles, put them in a bag to make it easy to crush, or use rice or chickpea flour to coat.
Cooks Tip this is a great recipe for using left over boiled or baked potatoes. If you are cooking the potatoes from scratch i think you get the best flavour out of them by boiling whole with the skins on, in salted water, then peeling when cooled. The potatoes will keep for several days in the fridge and the cakes seem to be better with potatoes kept for at least a day before using.

Spinach & Potato (Saag Aloo)

12 Mar
Potatoes and spinach make a great combination and there are many versions of this combination in Indian vegetarian cooking. Serve with chapatis and a dhal for a delicious healthy meal.
  • Fresh Spinach Leaves
  • a little peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 dried red chillis
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 fresh green chilli, sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste

Wash the spinach and set aside. Grind the cumin and coriander in a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil and when hot fry the garlic taking care not to let it burn by adding a bit of hot water if necessary.
When the garlic starts to brown, add the dry chilli, mustard, cumin and coriander. Cook for a minute or so then add the potatoes, stir and fry the potatoes with a good pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes start to look translucent. Add the spinach, garam masala and fresh chilli. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes stirring regularly until the potatoes are cooked. Add a touch of water to prevent sticking if necessary.

Potato Omelete (Spanish)

21 Sep
Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Omelete, spelled omelette in France, is simple uncluttered food that is so easy to make once you get the heat and timing right. This is one of my favourite lunches or snacks and is sold in almost every Tapas bar in Spain, often cut into small squares to accompany drinks.
Serves Cook 15-25min
  • 3 Potatoes, thinly sliced (raw) or parboiled into thicker slices.
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced into half rings (optional)
  • 4-6 Eggs, beaten
  • crushed rock sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • perhaps some fresh herbs for variation if you have them handy
There are three ways of making a traditional Spanish Omelette. All three require a good frying pan that will not stick and has a tight fitting lid.

  1. Fry onions in olive oil then take the onions out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil and fry the sliced raw potatoes over a very low heat (10 minutes) until almost cooked. Remove from heat stir in the eggs and cooked onions, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set and without letting the bottom burn.
  2. Fry onions in olive oil add parboiled potatoes stir to coat in oil. Remove from heat, stir in the eggs making sure all the potato pieces are coated in egg pushing any protruding pieces of potato down under the egg, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set.
  3. Fry the peeled and roughly sliced potatoes, with a little onion if using, in lots of olive oil covered to stew in the oil and steam. When cooked removed from the heat and stir into a bowl of beaten eggs. Season and return the mixture to the pan that has been cleaned and oiled or seasoned with lard. Cook gently until the egg sets.
Serve as a light lunch with salad or as canapés cut into bite size squares.
Cooks TIP if you have trouble getting the egg to set without burning the bottom finish off under a grill or turn the tortilla using a plate.

Salad Niçoise

8 Sep

I love this classic salad from Southern coastal France; a wonderful combination of cooked potatoes and green beans with fresh summer tomatoes and lettuce topped with seared tuna and olives. This is what the French call a salad composé, each diner is presented with a plate on which all the ingredients have been layered or composed ready to tuck in.

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until only just tender, then drain and set aside to cool. Cut the beans into bite size pieces and boil in salted water for 5-6 minutes or until the beans are only just cooked  drain and give them a little splash of olive oil, toss and set aside.

Meanwhile season a tuna steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper then pan fry or griddle on a high heat for a few minutes on either side until just cooked through, sprinkle with lemon juice and remove from the pan.

Meanwhile wash and tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and toss with a simple vinaigrette or Salad Dressing of your choice.

Arrange the dressed lettuce leaves on a plate then add a scatterring of cooked potatoes, slices of spring or salad onion and green beans then a layer of sliced tomatoes, cucumber or peppers according to your taste and what you have available and give it a pinch of sea salt as you go.  Top with the freshly cooked tuna and some black olives with the stones removed. Garnish with a pinch of chopped parsley for both looks and flavour. Serve with a little olive oil or salad dressing drizzled over the top.
VariationI often add sweet peppers, salad onions or cucumber too.

Mince and Potato Curry

6 May

This is my version of Keema Aloo a popular North Indian dish of minced meat cooked with spices and potatoes. It is really tasty, hearty stuff, easy to prepare and cheap, I love it. Delicious served simply with rice and a sweet or sour chutney or spinach-stuffed flatbreads. It also makes a lovely stuffing for pastry parcels, kachori or samosas.

  • 250g Minced meat ( lamb, goat or beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 fresh green chillies, deseeded and sliced to taste
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 hot dried chillies (my favourite for this dish is lemon drop)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • dried curry leaves (to taste)
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 250g-500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 tomatoes skinned and crushed
  • salt to taste
  • lemon zest to taste

Fry the mince in a little oil until the meat starts to brown, tip into a bowl and set aside. Prepare the spices and set aside. Add a little more oil and fry the onion until it starts to colour then add the garlic, ginger and whole spices, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a minute or two then add the potatoes, tomatoes, fresh chillis and salt and fry for a minute or two. Return the mince to the pan plus a little water, stir well and cover. Cook slowly until the potatoes are cooked 15–20 minutes. Add a little water during cooking if it starts to stick but it should end up as a fairly dry dish. Sprinkle with a little garam masala or grated lemon zest and stir in before serving.

Note as always be careful with the chillis. I use all kinds of chillies (I grow over 30 varieties) some are very hot, some mild, some fruity and some lemony acidic like these lemon drop chillies. Use whatever chillies you have available but make sure you know how hot they are before adding. I would recommend adding a little grated lemon peel at the end of cooking if you are not using lemon drop chillies to get that citrus high note.

Recipe Source I’ve been making variations of this since my student days in Glasgow, it is such a staple I have no idea if there even was an original recipe.

Potato Cumin & Turmeric Fry

10 Dec
A really simple and versatile potato side dish that can be made with pre-cooked, raw or left over potatoes. Great with a meat, fish or vegetable curry or with Indian breads and chutnies.
  • Potatoes
  • vegetable oil
  • 3 whole dried chillis
  • pinch asafetida
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt
Boil potatoes with their skins on for 15 minutes then drain cool, peel and cut into small cubes.  Heat a good glug of vegetable oil in a wide pan add the dried chillis, when they start to swell add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds, when they start to pop add the garlic and asafetida. Quickly add the potatoes and remaining ingredients and stir to make sure the spices coat the potatoes evenly and fry until the potatoes start to crisp around the edges.
You can use whatever leftover potatoes you have just cut into cubes. This recipe also works using raw potato follow the same method but fry the raw potatoes for longer adding a splash of water every now and again to prevent burning and help the potatoes to steam cook.

Chorizo & White Bean Stew

18 Nov

This is Rachel’s dads’ favourite dish, the one he cooks for himself when he is left to his own devices in the kitchen and I can understand why, it is so easy and so delicious. He usually makes it with a jar of white beans, cooking chorizo and tomato passata. It is a Spanish store cupboard classic, great for camping or cooking on the hoof.

Serves 2-4 (as a starter or main)

  • 4 cooking chorizo
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Large jar white beans or freshly boiled butter beans 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 250g passata (home made tomato puree) 
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Slice the sausages and fry in a good slug of fruity olive oil until starting to crisp around the edges, add the garlic and when the aroma rises add the paprika, tomato paste and cooked white beans. Cook for 10 minutes more until the sauce is all glossy and the flavours have infused. Sprinkle with bright green chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls to be mopped up with bread, or as one of a number of Tapas dishes.
Variation An equally good variation is to use potatoes instead of white beans to make another great Spanish dish add a few green peppers and cook until the potatoes are done.

Tuna, Pepper & Potato Stew

1 Oct

Rachel is half Spanish Basque, so every now and again I like to cook a dish from her heritage, and this is one of her favourites. In Spain this Basque dish is called Marmitako, and was traditionally made by bonito fishermen while at sea. The ingredients and the method of cooking are simple; potatoes, peppers and tuna fish stewed in olive oil. Something that can be knocked up on a galley stove, but the result is truly spectacular. It is deliciously rich and oily and a superb dish to keep out the cold.
Serves 2 Prep 10mins Cooking 40mins.

  • 400g tuna fish, de-boned, skined and cut into chunks
  • 150ml Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 green peppers de-seeded and chopped
  • 500g waxy potatoes peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • salt to taste if necessary
  • 3 tblsp home made Red Pepper Paste
  • 1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika

Heat a large cast iron pan, add the oil, onions and peppers and sautee over a low heat until they start to soften. Cut the potatoes into long quaters to make more of a virtue of them, they cook more slowly and somehow have a better taste than if cut into small pieces. Add the potatoes fry gently for a few minutes then add the pepper paste, paprika and enough water to cover and cook for 30mins. In another skillet fry the tuna pieces in a little olive oil until sealed and starting to brown. Transfer to the potato and pepper stew and cook for a further 1Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the bonito and cook for 10 minutes more. Check the seasoning and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: This recipe came from The Heritage of Spanish Cooking – Alicia Rios and Lourdes March. The original recipe calls for 2 dried red peppers, soaked for 12 hours and then pureed and a much greater ratio of fish, twice the amount of fish to potato. But as we are land lubbers and tuna is expensive I have used more potato. I have also used pepper paste and paprika instead of dried peppers, long green medium chillis instead of sweet green peppers, which makes it spicier, but otherwise the dish remains true to its simple origins.

Cook’s Tip Dried red peppers can be difficult to come by which is one reason i use pepper paste instead. I make my own but you can make a quick verison of pepper paste by mashing up a jar of preserved red peppers and adding some chilli or paprika powder to taste

Aloo Paratha

23 Aug

Parathas are layered Indian flat breads and this one is my favourite because it is layered with a stuffing of spiced potato. They make a great snack or light lunch served with a selection of Indian relishes, pickles and chutnies.

Parathas served with a selection of chutnies

makes 6-8 parathas

Potato stuffing
This is the basic mixture I use, sometimes I add more spices to the mixture such as: ground turmeric, cayenne, fenugreek, aniseed, cardamom anything you like the taste of really.

* 4 medium potatoes, peeled boiled and mashed
* 1-2 green chillis, very thinly sliced
* 1/2 cumin seeds
* 1 tbsp Green Coriander Seeds, lightly crushed
* salt and cracked black pepper to taste


* 150g whole meal flour
* water
* pinch of salt
* little oil or ghee

Images 1. Parcels ready to roll out. 2. Cooking the first side 3. Oiling the top side before turning again 4. Checking to see if the paratha is cooked

Put the flour into a bowl and slowly add a little water (about 120ml) and mix with your hand to get a soft pliable dough. Knead lightly and leave to rest for 20-30mins. Meanwhile prepare the potato mixture by mixing all the ingredients together. Cut the dough into 6 or 8 equal parts. Knead each ball and carefully roll out dredging with a little flavour to stop it sticking.

Put a spoon full of the potato mixture into the centre of each rolled out circle and gather up the edges to form a parcel or dumpling, twist to secure the dough. Set these aside on a plate as you do them. When you are ready to roll out. Dip the parcels in flour and carefully roll out to a round of 2.5-5mm thick, depending on how thick you would like the breads to be.

Heat a cast iron skillet or tava (Indian chapati pan) over a high heat and when hot, shake off any excess flour, and lay on the first paratha on the hot pan. Cook for 1 minute or so, lift the edges to check the underside of the bread, and when it is starting to brown turn over. Brush the upper cooked side with a little ghee or vegetable oil, I just use a teaspoon to spread a little oil around the surface of the bread. Once the underside is starting to brown evenly turn over and brush the upper cooked side with ghee or oil. Cook each side twice, once dry and once with an oiled surface. Alternatively put a little oil in the pan and shallow fry the breads. I personally think the first method works best. Stack the cooked breads in a covered dish to keep warm and when they are all done serve with chutnies, riatas or any dish of your choice.

For more information on making aloo parathas there are some Indian chefs with great demonstration videos on youtube. Vah Chef is particularly clear and he also shows a version with a cooked filling, which is interesting
Manjulas Kitchen
Vah Chef
Show me the curry

This recipe was originally posted on on 23/8/2008.

Spring Salmon Soup

27 Jun

A quick fresh tasting soup inspired by spring ingredients. The combination of the orange salmon and dark green leaves looks great and tastes superb. Excellent light lunch or starter.

Serves 4  Prep 20 mins Cook 10 mins

  • 250g new potatoes
  • 2 handfuls spring greens such as kale, brocoli or spring cabbage leaves
  • 200g Spring vegetables: peas, baby carrots, asparagus, baby courgettes, mangetout peas
  • Shelled broad beans or french beans cut into short pieces, blanched
  • 4 Salmon steaks or fillets de-skinned/bonned and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • I head fennel, finely sliced
  • 1 Tsp each sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Dash white wine
  • 1 Litre fresh fish stock
  • 1-2 tbsp Crème Fraîche
  • 1 tbsp marigold petals (optional)
  • 1 tbsp young Wild fennel fronds or dill finely chopped

This soup is put together by ladling lightly cooked fish and vegetable soup over cold new potatoes, conserving the fresh unique taste of each element.

Prepare the potatoes, peel or scrub and boil whole in salted water for 10mins, thickly sliced or cube when cool and set aside. Blanch vegetables by lowering into salted boiling water, in batches according to how long they will take to cook, 3-5mins, remove refresh in cold water. The vegetables should be slightly undercooked to preserve their colour and crunch.

In a large saucepan gently fry the salmon pieces in 1 tbsp of olive oil to seal, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add a knob of butter to the same saucepan add the onion, fennel, salt and pepper and sauté until soft. Add wine and cook for a further minute, add stock and bring to the boil add fish and vegetables to heat through. Take off the heat stir in Crème Fraîche and marigold petals. To serve, divide the cooked potatoes between the bowls and ladle the fish soup over the top. Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped dill or young fennel leaves.

Recipe Source: devised and tested at Mas du Diable, inspired by a trip to the arctic circle and Swedish soups.