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Proletarian Potatoes

Potato (Solanum tuberosum, Solanaceae)

One of the most common, humble and versatile vegetables known to man! The edible tubers are actually a starchy underground stem and not a root. They can be boiled, roasted, fried and are actually full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and really good for health. When eaten warm, they are one of the most comforting of foods and their pleasant taste makes them easy to eat by themselves or in dishes with many other ingredients.


The plant belongs to the nightshade family and is often maligned for being too starchy and gaining weight. The white potato is considered cooling and drying in Ayurveda and is often eliminated for patients suffering from arthritis and nervous disorders. Potatoes are a really good source of potassium, B and C vitamins and minerals like copper, lutein and manganese. They are considered a great vegetable to reduce inflammation and have a great deal of their goodness in the skin. It's highly recommended that you pick the organic version of the vegetable as underground edible parts are often susceptible to toxins when not farmed in an organic way. They are considered good to boost blood circulation and are a natural sedative.

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Believe it or not, the potato is very versatile in beauty treatment. It can be used to reduce dark circles, reduce puffiness of the face, remove blemishes and sun burn and also act as a great face mask or a hair mask. The various vitamins and minerals help reduce wrinkles and bring radiance to the skin. Grating a potato and using the juice to apply to your face or hair mixed other natural ingredients is the simplest way to bring a glow to your visage and is hydrating and anti-ageing to boot.


I liked potatoes from when I was young but unlike a lot of my friends, I actually preferred to eat green, leafy vegetables. My mother used to make an amazing little snack called Alu-Bonda (potato croquettes) which I absolutely adored. When I started cooking, I found the vegetable an easy one to experiment with. More often than not, unless you completely botched it up, you could turn out a decent tasting dish with the potato. I have travelled a lot and it's been fascinating to see the various uses for the potato in different countries. Visiting the Christmas markets in Dusseldorf, I fell in love with the German potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) served with a tangy and sweet apple sauce. I love the Austrian take on spiral potato chips on a stick as much as the ubiquitous Vada-pao in Mumbai and a spicy Rajasthani potato curry as much as my husband's favourite shepherds bean pie with a lovely crisp crust. I have shared some of my favourite recipes here - they are a take on these amazing snacks around the world but have a bit of a twist of my own.

Sesame and chia seeds Rosti

This is my take on the Kartoffelpuffer but has a bit of an Indian twist to it. I've added some seeds, onions and chillies (of course) and herbs to make it more exciting in my view. It's still fried - so pretty naughty. Of course, you can do this in the air-fryer but I personally prefer doing this in a pan. As long as you're careful not to eat too many, I think it can pass off as relatively healthy.

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  • Large potatoes : 3 (Washed and grated)
  • Red onion: 1 (chopped fine)
  • Spinach, rocket or coriander: 1/2 cup, chopped fine (I use a mix of all 3)
  • Brown rice flour: 4 tbsp. (you can substitute this with cornflour or tapioca flour)
  • Chilli: 1-2 chopped fine (remove the seeds if you don't like it too hot)
  • Peanuts: 1 tbsp. (roasted lightly and crushed)
  • Sesame seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Chia seeds: 1 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Sunflower Oil: 6-10 tbsp
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  • Mix the grated potatoes with chopped onion, herbs, chilli, peanuts, seeds, salt and flour well.
  • In a pan, heat the oil. Keep the heat low so that the rosti's don't burn and cook properly.
  • Add a tablespoon of the mixture and spread to make a round rosti.
  • Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry 3-4 rostis at the same time.
  • When it browns underneath, carefully lift and cook on the other side.
  • Serve hot with ketchup or chilli sauce. You can also serve it with apple sauce to give it a German twist!

Shepherd's Bean Pie

My husband Steve is English and he’s the reason I was introduced to this dish. Wanting me to taste a typical English delicacy, he modified the Shepherd’s pie to a vegetarian version with black-eyed beans. I loved it and have since adapted it a bit to make it a bit more Indian - i.e. added loads of chillies and coriander. I like using home-made mash on top as I know exactly what's going in!

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Potatoes: 1 Kg

Parboiled Mixed Veg (Beans, carrots, peas, sweetcorn): 3 cups

Red onion: 1 large, chopped fine

Green chilli (optional): 2, chopped fine

Fresh coriander (optional): 1/2 cup, chopped fine

Tomato: 3 large, chopped fine

Cooked beans (chick peas, kidney beans or butter beans): 1 can or 1.5 cups

Chilli powder or Paprika: 1 tsp

Coriander powder: 1 tsp

Garam Masala (optional): 3/4th tsp

Salt: to taste

Butter: 50 g

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  • Boil and mash the potatoes with 3/4th of the butter. I don't add salt and I usually leave the skins on as they are good for you. But feel free to peel and add salt. Keep aside.
  • In a pan, add a tbsp. butter and fry the chillies (if using) and onion.
  • Fry for a couple of minutes and add the veg, tomato and beans.
  • Add the powdered spices, salt and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, add the coriander leaves and mix well.
  • Take an oven-proof dish and butter the inside well.
  • Add the cooked veg-bean pie filling and then top with the mashed potato.
  • Even out the mash on top and use a fork to draw a wavy design. This will provide crispiness. Dot with a bit more butter.
  • Place in hot oven (180 degrees C) and cook for 35 minutes until brown and crisp on the top.
  • Serve with boiled peas or fresh runner beans.

Alu Bonda with a cheesy centre

This is one of my favourite tea-time snack. It's a popular South Indian dish and served with coconut chutney. When I went to Mumbai, I found that the "Vada" in Vada Pau is a larger version of the bonda with garlic. This is my own version with a little cheesy centre for an added twist.

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  • Potatoes to mash: 1 Kg (6-7 medium sized ones)
  • Red Onions: 1-2, finely chopped
  • Green chillies (optional, chopped fine): 1-2, deseeded if you don't want it to be spicy
  • Mustard seed: 1 Tsp
  • Channa Dal: 1 Tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1 Tsp
  • Fresh coriander (finely chopped): 3 Tbsp
  • Salt: To taste
  • Lemon juice: 3 Tbsp
  • Hard cheese, cubed: 100 gms (I use smoked cheddar and cube it to tiny 1/2 cm cubes)
  • Til or Sunflower oil: 1 Tbsp



  • Gram flour (besan): 3 Cups, sieved
  • Chilly powder: 1 Tsp
  • Salt: To taste
  • Hing (Asafoetida): 1/4 Tsp
  • Sparkling water

Sunflower Oil (for deep-frying)

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Pressure cook or boil the potatoes until well cooked. You can remove the skin if you like or mash well with the skin on. I prefer to leave the skin on as it has most of the nutrients. It's easier to leave the skin on with new potatoes.

In a wok, heat 1 Tbsp of oil and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the channa dal and green chillies. Add the chopped onions and fry until the onions turn brownish. Add the turmeric powder and mashed potatoes. Add salt and mix well, slowly starting from one end of the wok. Add the coriander leaves and remove from heat. Add the lemon juice at the end and mix well until the coriander and lemon juice are evenly mixed into the mash. Let it cool slightly.

When it's cooler to touch, take a cube of cheese and a small amount of filling. Place the cheese at the centre of the filling and roll into a small ball (the size of a tennis ball). Finish rolling all the filling into balls and keep aside.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the batter with sparkling water. You can use plain water if you prefer, sparkling water makes it lighter. The batter should be thick but of pouring consistency.
Heat the oil in a deep wok. Drop the balls of filling into the batter and coat evenly. Place these gently in the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot with ketchup or sweet chilli sauce! When you bite into the bondas, the secret cheesy centre comes to life :)