Plant-based Cooking & Recipes

Samia’s Spicy Secret

Cooking For Indian Indian People

The most difficult test I’ve found in cooking is to make Indian food for Indian people!  A bit like making fresh pasta for Italians, mousaka for Greek people or deep fried Mars bars for the Scots.

When I worked in India for 4 months at our retreat centre, my Gujerati hosts never considered my cooking attempts as proper Indian food, and took some satisfaction in not enjoying it. After experimenting with spices for a few weeks I suddenly realised they actually liked a lot of salt! The next day I piled in extra salt, and they all looked surprised and disappointed when they realized they were enjoying it. My challenge is to make Samia’s special spicey potato recipe – will she like it, or enjoy not liking it?

All about the spices

This recipe is all about the spices, in this case Samia’s secret spice blend.
It has been handed down in whispers for generations, so don’t tell anyone – or if you do, ask them not to tell anyone else. Just mix together 1 part curry powder, 4 parts paprika powder, 1 part cumin powder, 4 parts coriander powder and 1 part tumeric. We normally make up a jar full that lasts a few weeks.

The recipe is pasted below but here’s what happened when I made the dish myself.

Samia’s secret spice blend

To start with gently melt some ghee in a pan and add a couple of cloves of minced garlic, gently fry them for a few minutes so they are very slightly golden.

Samia’s Tip:  Use butter ghee rather than oil, it tastes better and is more stable when heated. Oil forms free radicals which can be harmful. 

Gently fry the minced garlic

Then add 3 teaspoons of Samia’s spice mix and fry for a few seconds.

Samia’s spice mix

Then add 2 finely chopped onions. You can also add about 2 teaspoons of butter so it’s not too dry; you want it to maintain a liquid consistency.

Fry the onions in the spice mix

Cook on a gentle heat with an airtight lid on, stirring occasionally so it does not stick. The steam generated will make the onions tender. When the onions are nicely caramelised, add chopped fresh tomatoes.

Samia’s Tip: Use nice fresh tomatoes and you will get a better taste. Don’t use tinned ones, yuk!

Add the freshly chopped tomatoes

Simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes have become  saucey. Then add about 1tsp salt, Gujarati friends will need much more! Then carefully mix with the steamed potatoes, fold the ingredients together or it will turn into a mush.

Samia’s Tip: I steam the potatoes rather than boil them as they come out much more fluffy. 

Mix with the steamed potatoes

Now the big test will Samia appreciate my version of her recipe?

Passes the test


Spice Mix

4tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Ground Cumin
4 tsp Paprika Powder
1 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Turmeric

This will make enough for 3 or 4 dishes.

Samia's Spicey Potato Dish

500g White Potatoes
3 tsp Spice Mix,
1 Onion Sliced
2 Cloves Garlic Minced,
1 tbsp Ghee,
2 tsp Butter,
3 Tomatoes Copped,
1tsp Salt

1. Peel the potatoes, then dice and steam for 20 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile heat the ghee in a pan and add the minced garlic, cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
3. Add the spice mix stir for a few seconds then add the onion.
4. Add extra butter to maintain a liquid consistency, simmer and stir for 5 minutes until onions are tender.
5. Reduce the heat if it sticks or burns.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes cook and stir for a further 3 minutes, add 1 to 2 tsp salt.
7. Carefully mix with the potatoes.

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