Saturday, February 6, 2010

Deep Purple... Potatoes?!

I'm in the midst of preparing an Indian feast. I have been cooking all day today. Company is coming tomorrow. An old boarding school buddy of my husbands' who coincidentally happens to be a mutual friend of several friends of mine in LA, is coming for Sunday lunch.
 She's out in California from Marthas' Vineyard. She's trading the big East coast blizzard for our rainy weather and she'sgetting Indian food.
  Since Jemima reads this blog and does not want to know what she's getting tomorrow...I'm going to be talking about something she's not getting. Heirloom potatoes.
  About a month ago I discovered there are more colors, shades and shapes of heirloom potatoes than one can shake a masher at. All of these potatoes are grown locally which makes the locovore in me happy. All of them (at least the ones I've tried so far) are delicious.
  The last time I cooked heirlooms they were from Blankity Blank Farms. This time the potatoes were from a friend of his, Tom Kirkland, of Tommy Boy Organic Farms.
 I have to admit when I saw the amazing variety of potatoes I was knocked out! What to pick!? I selected some Huckleberrys (for later) and for today some All Blues which are actually a very very deep and vivid purple.
  The All Blues make a great baking potato, and one of the recommended ways of using them is to mash them. I can only guess how thrilled kids would be to find a pile of purple mashed potatoes on their plate right alongside their green eggs and ham. Eating would be fun!
   Actually the stuff that makes these potatoes purple also makes them very good for you. According to the research I read these All Blues are old, old old, probably the closest relative to the original potaoes found up in the Andes of Peru 10,000 years ago. And for those who don't want their leafy greens, take a look at this:
Blue-fleshed potatoes have more vitamins and antioxidants than white potatoes. In fact, All Blue potatoes have as much antioxidant power as Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach.
The one important thing to remember when cooking these potatoes is to add a bit of vinegar to the cooking process so that they keep their brilliant color.

 I decided to make Sookhe Aloo, a simple Indian "dry"potato dish which I first learned years and years ago from Madhur Jaffreys' An Invitation To Indian Cooking. This dish is sort of an Indian style potato salad. It can be eaten warm at a sit-down meal or cold on a picnic.
 The first thing I did was to wash and boil them in a pot of salted water to which I added 2 Tbs of white vinegar.
  The potatoes were fingerlings so they cooked for about 10 or so minutes. When they were just about fork tender I took them out of the pot and rinsed and drained them.
  When they were cool, I sliced and diced them .
Here's how to make this dish:
1.) In a skillet or kadhai heat about 3 Tbs of oil
   When the oil is hot add in:
2.) 1 tsp of fennel seed
3.) 1 tsp of cumin seed
4.) 1 tsp of whole brown mustard seed
5.) 12 whole fenugreek seeds
   When the seeds start to darken add
6.) 3 whole dried red peppers
   When the red peppers start to darken add :
7.) the diced potatoes
8.) 1/2 tsp of turmeric
9.) 1 and 1/2 tsps of salt.
  Turn the heat down to medium and stir fry for  about 15 minutes or so.

The potatoes will turn crispy.
Squeeze 1 Tbs of lemon juice over the potatoes and serve.
  There it is, a quick fun potato dish as colorful as it is tasty.

And for, you will not know what you're getting until you come here.


  1. wow these are truly wonderful and amazing. I have never seen them. Would love to have some of these purplebeauties!I want some heirloom potatoes! Do I have to move to Cali? these look fantastic. Love the interesting history behinde these blue beauts!

  2. I have seen some here as well. They look delightful and taste great.

  3. I made a purple smashed potatoes thing once - aren't they so cool? It's definitely like eating cartoon food. I'm glad you mentioned about the vinegar - it's sad to see all that beauteous color drain away. I hope you'll post what Jemima is going to get to eat, I am now curious as well!!

  4. I love these, my girls think they are supercool, great post!!

  5. Interesting about the blue flesh potatoes and their vitamin content. They are hard to find where I live, but maybe Wholefoods or a place like it. Best to you and your family!



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