Who doesn’t like potatoes? If there are some, they’re definitely part of a small minority. We all have our own favorite potato recipes and these Indian Pan Roasted Potatoes are one of ours. This recipe is pretty much like regular Pan Roasted Potatoes but these are a bit spicy. Yes, they’re beautifully crisp on the outside but melting tender and soft on the inside. You can make them with very few ingredients, most of which you’re likely to have in your pantry.
Potatoes are native to the Andes in South America. They came to Europe in the mid-17th century but Europeans did not take to the tuber. They were initially considered food fit for pigs or the poor! It was largely the effort of a Frenchman Antoine-Augustin Parmentier that paved the way for its acceptance as a healthy food.
Queen Marie Antoinette of France supposedly liked flowers of the potato plant so much she used to wear the in her hair! Her husband, Louis XVI, joined her by wearing them in his buttonhole!! The French aristocracy is supposed to have subscribed to fashion trend for a short period.
Cultures across the world eat potatoes and they’re very central to cooking in some of them. I should think any form of potatoes cooked till crisp is a favourite everywhere. We have a version of it in my native cuisine too. We pan roast potatoes with a minimal number of spices till soft and creamy on the outside but really crisp on the outside. I must mention that traditionally, we cook this without onion or garlic.
This dish is native to Tamilnadu and that’s where we have acquired it from. Indian Pan Roasted Potatoes is locally called Urulaikizhangu Varuval or Roast, or Urulaikizhangu Karakari. Urulaikizhangu is potato in Tamil and tends to be on the spicier side. This dish has regional variations and even there family recipes differ. Some recipes call for crushed black pepper instead of red chilli powder, or sambhar powder to season the potatoes. Others add a little chickpea flour (besan) for a crisper finish and flavour.
You can start the pan-frying with a tempering of mustard seeds and split black lentils (urad dal) but I prefer to make this more like a Mezhukkupuratti. I also like keeping it simple with the spices. There are some simple rules I keep to while cooking this recipe.
-Always use a cast iron skillet/ pan or a thick walled pan for really crisp potatoes. The pan keeps an even heat that allows slow roasting of the potatoes till really crisp without burning them.
-I always par boil the potatoes before I pan fry them. This ensures soft and crisp potatoes. It also means I’m not standing over them for a long time.
-I might be biased as I am from Kerala but I think that coconut oil works best with the potatoes here. You can use any oil of your choice.
-For spices, I stick to turmeric and red chilli powders, asafoetida and salt. That’s it. You can add a tsp of cumin powder as well. I sometimes add sesame seeds to the potatoes. Leave the cumin powder out if adding sesame seeds.
-Add a handful of curry leaves to make this dish extra special.
Serve these potatoes hot as a side dish with rice and Sambhar or Morkootan or chappathis. I personally like making a meal of just these potatoes and finishing off with a bowl of thick plain home made yogurt.