Thursday, June 11, 2015

Easy, Fast, Make Ahead, Take Away, Vegan Potato Salad. Sookhe Aloo.

   When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco there wasn't a party, a cookout, or a picnic that didn't involve a trip to Herman's Delicatessen on Geary Blvd. for some of their self proclaimed "World Famous Potato Salad!"  If you grew up in San Francisco as I did, your family likely turned up at Herman's at one time or another. The place was famous. I am a 5th generation San Franciscan, and so my family had been patronizing Herman's since forever. Herman's was my first introduction to the world of exotic cheeses. My grandparents took me there at the age of five and I was hooked. Now Herman's is long gone; the beautiful tile work in the doorway now leads one into The Gap. There are no exotic cheeses at the Gap, and certainly no World Famous Potato Salad.

   Herman's potato salad recipe can be found online here for those who remember and miss it. I don't think I ever really ate potato salad again once Herman's was gone. For one thing nothing compared, and for another I spent many years eating a vegan diet and all the dairy involved was out the window. However, once I started cooking Indian food 25 years ago, my love for potato salad was satisfied. It turns out Herman's wasn't the only place with a killer potato salad recipe. Indian cuisine features a whole array of them, a great many of them vegan. I was back in business.

   A couple of weeks ago I made my return to cooking and entertaining and one of the dishes I served was one of my favorite Indian potato salads, Sookhe Aloo. This is a spicy potato salad that is easily made ahead. One of a number of Indian potato salad recipes that I make, this one can be served warm or at room temperature which makes it a great dish to take to potlucks, or any sort of cookout. I particularly love make ahead dishes as it makes the preparation of a multi-dish Indian feast a whole lot easier, less to do on the day of the event!  Since 4th of July is coming up fast I'm passing this traditional recipe along, I'll be serving it, you might want to also.

Indian Potato Salad (serves 6)

Here's What You Need:
3 Tbs coconut or other vegetable oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/3 tsp cumin seed
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbs serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 cups of finely chopped onion
5 cups of boiled and peeled potatoes (use only new red  or white potatoes. No Yukon Gold or Russets as the texture will be wrong)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili or cayenne (optional)
1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice.

Here's What To Do:
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove, and bring it to a boil.
When the water boils add the unpeeled whole potatoes to it and cook them until they are fork tender.
Drain the potatoes and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process.
When the potatoes are thoroughly cooled peel them.

Slice them...

...and cube them.

When you have 5 cups of cubed cooked potatoes, set them aside.

Chop and mince the onions.

Chop the chili and set it aside.

 In a skillet or kadhai heat the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot add in the mustard seeds.

Once they start to sizzle and pop stir in the turmeric...

...Serrano chili and onion.

Stir fry the onions until they are translucent, then add in your potatoes.

Fry the potatoes for about 2 minutes, until they start to brown a bit.

Then add the garam masala, sugar salt and Kashmiri chili or cayenne (if you're using it).

Turn down the heat a bit, and put a lid on things. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Take off the lid and add in the lemon juice.

Take the pan off the heat and stir everything together until it's well mixed.
Just before serving, get some cilantro. I got to use some of the stuff from my own garden.

Chop up a handful, and sprinkle it over the potato salad.

Serve it up!

potato salad

   There it is, very tasty and fresh with a slight kick from the chili. This can easily be doubled if you're feeding a crowd. It's vegan and gluten free.  I've served this for years whenever I'm looking for an easy crowd pleaser, especially for people who are new to Indian food since it can served with anything from burgers and dogs, to a traditional Indian meal. It ain't Herman's, but it's damn good! Coming up next. Fire roasting an eggplant for a tasty side dish. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. Looks like a wonderful side dish for summer. xo Catherine

  2. I have a favorite potato salad too although it's the one I've made for most of my adult life. Sour cream and bacon and NO pickles or cornichons or pimento. All forbidden in my potato salad kingdom!

    But this...this I would love. Love the spicy component; will have to give it a try.

  3. I've been cooking peppers and onions in the skillet on the grill a lot lately. I'll have to add jalapenos next time. Yum. I like cooking bacon that way too, although hot fat + open flame adds a nice element of danger. I used to get flank steak, but my husband got me to try the carne asada cut from our local market, and I prefer it. Not sure if it's thin-cut flank or skirt (I'll have to ask), but it looks like this 



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