Recipe 0: Potato fry thingamajig

6 Aug 2022

This isn't exactly a recipe. It's more of a story on how I got into cooking, and how you probably could too.

Storytime

I used to sit next to this guy in primary school, and he'd bring fried potatoes for lunch every day. He'd share them with me at times and I found them super tasty. There wasn't anything particularly special about them - just potatoes, chopped into sticks and fried in coconut oil along with some spices. But the simplicity of it and the taste, while my lunch typically consisted of ಅನ್ನ ಸಾಂಭಾರ್, made me really like them a lot.

Aand that's it. That's pretty much what got me into cooking.
I wanted to replicate them at home, asked my mom to light up the gas stove for me, took an Aluminium pan, added potatoes, and fried them. I never really got close to what my school-mate would bring - he likely had some special masala in it, but damn was it tasty.

Most Indians start with Maggi. I started with Potato fry. This was in class 6 if I remember things right.

Philosophy

I wanted to have this all the time, and it was simple enough to make. It's simple, yet there are so many things to learn from it. Chopping potatoes is simple - the perfect place to learn knife skills, popping mustard seeds, learning how to (shallow) fry without deep frying, the art of adding chilly powder and not burning it, pan tossing skills, learning about the order in which you add things, how not to get your oil to smoke up and burn - the list goes on.

Which is why, I think, you too should start with this. Within 20 minutes you'll have something actually tasty (well, you can't really go wrong with taters, can you?) and get to appreciate the small things when it comes to cooking.

It doesn't really have to be Potatoes at all. Here's something I cooked tonight with ಸುವರ್ಣ ಗಡ್ಡೆ (Elephant Foot Yam). This doesn't even follow the recipe I've mentioned below, that's the beauty of it. Take a vegetable, throw it with oil and spices, then throw whatever you want at it, and enjoy!

The Recipe

Things you'll need

  • Potatoes
  • Mustard seeds
  • Green chilly
  • Oil (Coconut oil for the Mangalore feels)
  • Salt
  • Chilly powder
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander leaves

Take a pan that can conduct a lot of heat quickly. The ability to modulate heat is important. I have a thin Aluminium pan for this purpose.

Start with the oil of your choice, splutter some mustard seeds, add turmeric and green chilly, add chopped potatoes at high flame, and toss around in the pan at max flame, slowly adding salt. Keep doing this for about 5 mins or until potatoes get golden brown, lower to flame to min, add chilly powder and mix. Turn off the flame in about 30 seconds and you're done. Optionally, add fresh, chopped, coriander leaves.

That's it. That's the whole recipe.

Add random masalas to spice things up.

Bon appétit!