One vegetable that rules almost everyone's heart around the world is potato! Boiled, grilled, roasted, baked, fried, mashed or made into soups, stews, salads or au gratin recipes, these oblong and round starchy root veggies are amongst the top five most wanted crops around the globe. It's interesting how this one vegetable connects so many of us around the world through its various forms and creations!
Potatoes are a highly celebrated vegetable in the Indian cuisine. I cannot think of one state in India that doesn't include potatoes in one or more of its dishes. Like other colonies, pre-Independent India learned about potatoes through the Portuguese, and the British helped popularize it in the Indian subcontinent.
Potatoes have been on the earth for a long time. First cultivated by the Incas in Peru around 8000 to 5000 BC, they were brought to Europe by the Spanish. Easier to grow than other staple crops like wheat or oats, potatoes ruled European farmers' hearts soon. Through colonization, Europeans (most likely Irish immigrants) introduced potatoes to North America, and by 1719 there were clear signs that this tuber was going to be permanent in the Americas.
The recipe I am writing today is an extremely simple one. It uses yellow baby (petite) potatoes but you can make it with any kind of baby potatoes you have or like. It's a great side to go with your sandwiches or soups or any main course meal. You could also choose it as a snack option!
The inspiration for this recipe comes from the backside of a packet of petite potatoes I had bought at a grocery outlet in Toronto. Nostalgia easily takes hold of me when I remember Toronto, the very first city I lived outside India. The city where I met my husband and made an incredible bunch of friends who twinkle so bright in the sky of memories.
Before I disappear into memory land, let me quickly summarize few things cooking baby potatoes:
They are quite versatile and fit most of the potato recipes you could find anywhere. Although I personally feel that they are perfect for salads, roasting and frying.
Petite potatoes have a more concentrated flavour as compared to their bigger kins.
These potatoes cook faster (of course! they're smaller in size) and fit well for even recipes like the Indian dum aloo.
They need no peeling! And, that makes life so much easier on those busy days when you're running for dear life! You would peel them if you're making dum aloo, but not for this recipe!
In India, we're typically used to having a pressure cooker in home kitchens (I am getting nostalgic again - the sound of a pressure cooker's whistle going off early in the morning is common in any Indian household), and we use it to boil vegetables (including potatoes) and pulses. Outside of India, I have mostly seen potatoes being boiled in an open vessel or in instant pots more recently. Baby potatoes do not need high pressure cooking, and so fairly easy and less time consuming to boil.
300-400 grams petite/baby potatoes (one full or 1/2 a pack of baby potatoes)
1 small thinly sliced onion
1 tsp roughly pounded garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10-12 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
1. Boil baby potatoes and set aside. No need to remove the skin.
2. In a frying pan or skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat and add garlic. Sauté for a few seconds.
3. Add the sliced onions and half of the thyme. Fry for about 10 minutes on a low to medium heat. The intention is not to brown the onions and not burn the thyme. So, adjust heat accordingly.
4. Add the potatoes with skin intact and continue to sauté until potatoes are brown. Cut some of the potatoes in the pan using your spatula as you sauté.
5. Season with salt and pepper. And, add the remaining thyme.
Serve hot and enjoy these browned yellow beauties of pure joy! I can munch on them pretty much at any time of the day. I enjoy them a lot as breakfast too, beside a simple omelette and coffee. Oh! I can smell the thyme and feel the crunch of the potatoes as I write this.
Go, try this easy recipe soon!