Who doesn’t love potatoes? There must at least a thousand different ways to cook them across the world. This Potato Podimas or mildly spiced Tamil style mashed potatoes is one of them. It is probably one of the easiest yet delicious and simple way of cooking potatoes.
Potatoes were introduced in India by the Portuguese sailors during early 17th century. The British ensured that potato cultivation spread across North India. Today, the potato has been accepted as one of our own and is a major commercial crop in India and grown in the country.
Potatoes are not cooked with in the South as much as they are in the North. Some part of that could be attributed to the fact that they’re grown mostly in the Northern parts of the country. So potatoes are not at all that much cooked with in my community and part of the world. Potato Podimas is one of the few dishes we do cook. Traditionally, this is cooked using raw bananas.
Potato Podimas can be loosely translated as a mashed potatoes dish. However, it is very different from the Western concept of mashed potatoes. Here, potatoes are boiled, peeled and then broken by hand into a partially mashed, partially crumbled texture. This is then added to/ stir-fried almost in oil to which a couple of spices have been added. The result is a mildly spiced, very simple yet absolutely mouthwatering potato side dish. Traditionally, there’s no onions or garlic in this dish though you will find some recipes using them these days.
You need about two to three potatoes per person, depending on the size, if you’re looking to scale the recipe below. The spice (or fire) comes entirely from green chillies. So use as many as you can tolerate. Some people like finishing the dish with a sprinkle of fresh grated coconut but I prefer this dish without it. Potato Podimas is best served with rice and a lentil based gravy dish like Sambhar, Kuzhambu or Rasam. This is how we make it at home.
- 7 to 8 medium sized potatoes
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp split black gram lentils urad dal
- 1 1/2 tsp split Bengal gram lentils chana dal
- 1/4 tsp asafetida powder
- 1 to 2 green chillies sliced
- 1 to 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Boil or pressure cook the potatoes with the skin on, till quite soft. Cool, peel and break down or crumble the potatoes with your fingers. The potatoes should be partially mashed and partially with smallish lumps. Please do not mash them fine or you won’t achieve the desired texture of this dish.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Add the mustard seeds. When the splutter, add the lentils and turn the heat to low-medium. Sauté till they start turning golden brown. Stir in the green chillies, curry leaves and asafetida. Do not let it burn.
- Add the turmeric and the crumbled potatoes. Add salt to taste and mix well. Let this cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, uncovered. Sir occasionally so it cooks uniformly.
- Take it off the heat and serve warm, on the side, with rice, pappad and a lentil based curry like sambhar/ kuzhambu or rasam.