January 14th, 2009
There was a quaint, hip restaurant that I used to frequent, located in one of the trendy suburban locales of Mumbai, whenever I happened to be in that area. Why I stopped going there is another story altogether. These potatoes were a part of their menu. The semolina formed a beautiful crust on the potatoes, which left a lingering taste. When I had a conversation with the chef there, I discovered that the ingredients were few, the procedure easy and the result exotic!
I always look for interesting ways to cook potatoes. I have many favourite potato memories, right from a simple yet divine baked potato topped with delicious sour cream and herbs whilst on a tube rail from Frankfurt to Zurich, the intricate aloo kebabs prepared by my favourite north Indian chef, Sharief at the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton, Mumbai, ajji’s (grandmother’s) aloo ras palya (cubes of potatoes floating in a yummy watery gravy) and a few from the culinary adventures in my very own kitchen. It’s marvelous that potatoes can turn from a simple humble dish to an exclusive piece de resistance on the dining table.
Most people I know love potatoes. One person who doesn’t very much approve of them is my father. When I included semolina potatoes (a version of the potato dish of the suburban restaurant mentioned above) in the menu when he was visiting us for dinner on one of his business trips to Mumbai, I was taking a big risk. I was happy to note that he went in for a second helping. Today, when I decided to make semolina potatoes again, I also thought of inaugurating my Le Creuset frying pan lying in the cupboard.
Semolina Potatoes Recipe
Semolina comes in various sizes. It is important to use the small sized or fine variety for this dish.
500gm/1 lb baby potatoes
3 tbsp fine semolina
½ tsp paprika flakes (use more to make it spicier)
2 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups (500ml) water + 1 tsp salt for cooking potatoes
In a frying pan or skillet on the lowest flame, roast the semolina until golden brown. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep aside. In a pan, bring the water to a boil and add in the salt and scrubbed potatoes and cook till tender until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork or a knife. Cool and peel the potatoes.
In a frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil on a medium flame and add in the paprika flakes and coriander leaves. Stir in the potatoes and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until they change colour to a nice light brown. Sprinkle the semolina and salt and mix properly. Continue cooking for a minute or two. The semolina forms a lovely crust over the potatoes. Serve hot.
Serves 3 to 4