Potato Curry with Sesame Seeds

Potato Curry with Sesame Seeds
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potato curry
A nice-looking potato dish!

As part of preparing for vacation, we generally start to eat down the perishables. Then, a day or two before we leave, we have a few staples left in the house and are struggling to think of what to make from them for dinner. That’s exactly what happened to us a couple of Saturdays ago. Basically, our fridge contained a cucumber, a few carrots, some mushrooms, and a small squash. In the pantry we had a few potatoes, and a few sweet potatoes. Hmm. We were stuck.

So, it was off to the Scracthin’ It central library to peruse the stacks, taking turns grabbing a book off the shelf and looking in the index for our various ingredients. For a while, either Boxty or Potato Latkes were front runners, but, then, in The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, we found Potato Curry with Sesame Seeds. Well, that sounds interesting, and we have nearly everything on hand. Plus, we could quickly whip up a few Chapatis and pretty much have a whole Indian meal. All from a few potatoes. What’s not to like?

Serves 2 as a main

Potato Curry with Sesame Seeds

Potato Curry with Sesame Seeds


  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds, either brown or yellow, or a combination
  • 2 Tbs sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice, preferably fresh

Abbreviated Instructions

In a medium saucepan, cover potatoes with water and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool, peel, and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. When hot, add cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.

Add sesame seeds, and stir until golden, about 2 minutes.

Add turmeric, cayenne, potatoes, and lemon juice. Stir and cook until heated through.



Ingredient discussion:

Ideally, you want to use fresh lemon juice — we didn’t, because we were emptying our fridge for vacation — and it showed. The reconstituted lemon juice has its place, but not here, as it’ll leave a minerally, metallic, aftertaste. And, no, the brand doesn’t matter, they all taste like that compared to fresh. We suggest canola oil, but any light, flavorless oil will work. As for potatoes, a waxy red will work best, but we used a mix of russets and reds, and we survived. Finally, when it comes to spices, the supermarket can be one of the most expensive places to buy them. Consider stopping in an ethnic market for great deals. And watch that cayenne. It can be HOT! Adjust the amount accordingly.

Procedure in detail:

Once boiled, peel and cube the potatoes; we just set ours in the lid of skillet for safekeeping.

Boil potatoes. You need to pre-cook them some way; we choose boiling, but microwaving would work too. So, if you’re boiling, place them in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool, peel, cube, and set aside.

spices ready
Might as well get the spices ready while the potatoes cook. What else are you going to do, watch them boil?

Mise en Place. Most Indian recipes go pretty quickly once they start, so we suggest getting three small bowls. In one, measure out mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander. In the next, measure out sesame seeds, and, in the third, measure out the lemon juice, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Now you’re good to go.

Heat oil. In a large skillet over medium, heat the oil until it shimmers. You don’t want it so hot the oil smokes, but hot enough so the seeds will pop after hitting the oil. This fast cooking changes the flavor of the mustard seeds, so your dinner tastes a bit nutty, and not mustardy.

mustard and cumin seeds
Everything cooks quickly; keep stirring so nothing burns.

Add mustard bowl. Now that the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, the cumin seeds, and the coriander, and stir while cooking for about a minute. Some of the seeds should pop; that means you got the oil just right. If not, no worries; let it heat more next time.

adding sesame seeds
The sesame seeds should turn a nice golden color in a few minutes.

Add sesame bowl. Now, stir in the sesame seeds and keep stirring while they turn a light golden color, about 2 minutes. This helps to bring out the flavor of the sesame seeds.

coating potatoes
As you toss the potatoes, the seeds will stick to the outside, making for a nice-looking main dish.

Add potatoes and lemon bowl. Now, stir in the potato chunks, turmeric, lemon juice, and cayenne. Keep stirring while the potatoes heat through. The amount of time will depend on how long you let the potatoes cool, but it shouldn’t be more than a few minutes.

potato curry
A nice-looking potato dish that’s tasty, too!

Serve. We dished up ours with a side of chapatis, which was a nice way to scoop up the potato chunks, and salt and pepper for seasoning.

This dish was okay, but was dry to eat. It would be better with some sort of sauce, or perhaps a riata to go along on the side. Another option would be to have several Indian-style dishes for dinner: this potato dish, and perhaps one or two others with a lot of sauce. Because of the dryness issue, which we should have thought about beforehand, we’ll give this three stars.

Worth the trouble?

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