Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spicy Turmeric Potatoes

Yesterday I mentioned that turmeric is the base of almost every curry.

And today the Indian dish I'm highlighting from the cooking class I assisted with last week features turmeric -- the beautiful golden yellow spice in the picture to the left.

In the Indian Ayurveda tradition, turmeric has many healing properties. For example, it's as an anti-inflammatory and blood-purifier. (Yesterday's post offers a more complete list.)

According to Cindy, who taught the cooking class, turmeric as a medicinal spice mirrors the properties of the Chinese medicinal herb coptis.

However, I've not heard of Chinese herbs like coptis being used to color and flavor foods in the way turmeric is used in say, spicy turmeric potatoes!

That's the beauty of Indian spices: their color and flavor beautifies and enhances food, while their organic properties act as natural healing agents.

Spicy Turmeric Potatoes
4 potatoes such as russet or Yukon gold
3 white sweet potatoes (not yams)
1/4 cup light olive oil and 1/4 cup sesame oil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 - 1 teaspoon turmeric
half a bunch or more of chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

1) Peel and boil potatoes in water with a little salt until tender, about 20 mins.
2) Drain and return potatoes to the pot and mash with oils (adding more oil than listed for a smoother mash).
3) Add smashed and chopped garlic cloves, turmeric, salt and pepper.
4) Stir ingredients together well before folding in chopped cilantro.

The interesting variation with this dish is mashing the potatoes with oils rather than butter and milk or cream as is traditional in the west.

Light oil like olive or canola enriches the potatoes without the heaviness of butter and milk. Sesame oil is dense and more flavorful than olive or canola, but despite this, it's not in any way overpowering.

Adding raw garlic really gives the potatoes oomph, and the addition of the fresh, slightly spicy cilantro adds to that oomph.

The turmeric is barely detectable as a flavor, yet the color is obvious since it turns the potatoes a delicate golden color.

The above recipe makes enough for 10 people so if you're feeding less, adjust the ingredient list accordingly.

Tomorrow I'll be featuring Cindy's version of Saag, spicy Indian creamed spinach, plus tips on frying up papadams. The next day, I'll post Cindy's specialty: spicy homemade chai, followed by tips on buying and storing Indian spices.

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