Indian cooks make their own potato salads, seasoning them carefully with their own homemade combinations of roasted spices. Typically flavored with a mixture of cumin, various ground peppers, asafetida (a strongflavored spice), mango powder, and a tangy seasoning called black salt, Indian potato salads fall into the large culinary category known as chaats, which are basically Indian snack foods. Onion can replace the asafetida, which gives the salad a similar dissonance, and lime juice can be substituted for the tangy mango powder. The black salt is optional, but it does offer a delicate smokiness, as does the chipotle, which is not traditional but is included here. The two favorite herbs are cilantro and mint, though not together. This recipe is adapted from one in Julie Sahni’s important book, Classic Indian Cooking.
– ½ pounds white or red waxy potatoes.
– 1 teaspoon ground coriander.
– 1½ teaspoons ground cumin.
– 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil.
– 1 dried chipotle chile, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to soften, seeded, and chopped, or 2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely chopped.
– ¼ teaspoon cayenne.
– ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
– ¼ teaspoon asafetida, or ½ small onion, minced.
– ¼ teaspoon mango powder, or ¼ cup fresh lime juice.
– 1 teaspoon black or regular salt.
– 3 tomatoes, peeled and seeded and coarsely chopped.
– 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.
Step 1:Put the potatoes in a pot with cold water to cover and bring to a gentlesimmer. Simmer for about 35 minutes, or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a paring knife.
Step 2:While the potatoes are cooking, in a small skillet or saucepan, cook the coriander and cumin in the oil over medium heat for about 1 minute, or until you smell the spices. Remove from the heat, let cool, and pour into a bowl large enough to hold the tomatoes and potatoes. Add the chile, cayenne, black pepper, asafetida, mango powder, salt, and tomatoes and stir to mix.
Step 3:Drain the potatoes in a colander, rinse with cold water to make them easier to handle, and then pull away the peel in strips by pinching it between your thumb and a paring knife. Let the potatoes cool completely.
Step 4:Cut the potatoes into ⅓-inch-thick slices and gently stir them into the tomato mixture; add the cilantro. Let stand for at least 3 hours or up to 5 hours before serving.