Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pan-Fried Potatoes

This is one of my entries for RCI: Maharashtrian Cuisine.
Fried potatoes. The one dish you can count on to be a crowd-pleaser. That you can conjure up from virtually nothing. Pan-fried potatoes, Marathi style, is a dish made with pantry staples- onions, potatoes, and a few everyday spices- cooked to golden brown perfection. The Marathi term for pan-frying is paratne, and potato translates as batata, hence the Marathi name for this dish is paratlele batate.

The flavoring in this dish, apart from the usual trio of salt-turmeric-red chili powder, comes from just two spices: coriander seeds and cumin seeds. This duo is used so often in Maharashtrian cuisine that I keep a coriander-cumin spice mix in the spice box, which makes it really easy to throw together quick stir-fries such as this one. To make the coriander-cumin powder at home, take equal amounts of cumin seeds and coriander seeds (I make small batches, using 1/4 cup of each spice). Combine them in a small skillet, then toast on low heat until aromatic and just a shade darker (be careful not to burn the spices). Cool the toasted spices, then dry-grind to a fine powder. Store in an air-tight bottle and use as required. For this dish, I look for organic potatoes with thin skins; that way I can simply scrub the potatoes clean and leave the skin on for extra flavor.

Pan-fried potatoes go well with just about everything- I love scooping it up with chunks of hot roti, and I love eating it with dal-rice and yogurt-rice. I have one memory of eating this dish as a small kid. It was when a bunch of neighborhood kids got together one summer evening and "camped out" in one family's backyard, lighting a fire to cook on. These pan-fried potatoes were made (by the older children) using ingredients donated by various moms, and we ate them with sliced bread. The combination tasted so good!

When I cook paratlele batate, I make sure that I'm the one serving it, because then I can put all the extra-crispy almost-burnt bits (the best part!) in my own plate...after all, it is the cook's privilege!

Pan-Fried Potatoes (Paratlele Batate)

(makes about 3 side-dish servings)
2 large potatoes or 3 medium potatoes or 6 small potatoes
1 medium onion
1 T oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 t turmeric powder
1 t red chili powder
1 t coriander-cumin powder
salt to taste
fresh lemon juice
minced cilantro
1. Prepare the vegetables: Cut the onion into slices. Scrub the potatoes clean, then cut crosswise into thin slices (if large or medium potatoes are used, you want to first cut the potato into quarters or halves lengthwise).
2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Make the tempering with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
3. Stir in the onion and cook on medium heat until the onion starts browning around the edges.
4. Stir in the turmeric, red chili powder, coriander-cumin powder and salt and let it saute for a few seconds.
5. Stir in the sliced potato, then leave uncovered on medium heat. Turn the potatoes every 4-5 minutes and cook until the they are crispy and browned.
6. Garnish liberally with lemon juice and cilantro and serve right away.

Other popular Maharashtrian ways with Potato, all three using boiled potato:
A festive meal: Puri Bhaji
A tea-time snack: Batata Vada
As stuffing: Bharli Mirchi


  1. Yumm!! I love the fresh taste of a bunch of cilantro with this dish, Nupur. Looks divine, and am sure tastes heavenly too.

    I believe potatoes are definitely one of the most popular comfort foods in India. No matter where you go, you're bound to find a treasure of fried potatoes! :)

  2. batate, the ever fav, looks so good :)

  3. Looks yummy! reminds me of 'kaachrya' which is made the same way but just that the potatoes are cut in smaller triangular pieces.
    And like you, I also love the burnt pieces...the best part of the bhaaji!

  4. Oh my gosh those look good! I love potatoes (particularly when they get all brown and crusty like that) and I'll bet seasoning them in this way they're fantastic!

  5. Its a real treat Nupur. Viji

  6. what a yummy recipe - the pic is mouth watering!

  7. Looks Great.Looking forward to RCI Maharashtrian Cuisine round up.Thank You for sharing.Durga

  8. looks delish !! Potatoes in any form I love them

  9. Looks so good.
    The burnt 'khamanga' pieces are the best!

  10. Hey Nupur...yummy looking potatoes...now what will happen to my resolution of " no potatoes" ( psst..though i myself have half a mind to change it..just need the right incentive..which you have given !! )...really tempting...

  11. This really looks great. I love pan fried potatoes and in Germany there is something similar to this called Bratkartoffeln - of course without the wonderful addition of the wonderful spices.

  12. Less ingredients more taste. Slicing the potatoes that thin would no doubt yield crispy batate

  13. this is my favorite side dish with tomato rasam... perfectly browned and crusty potatoes Nupur. Looks delicious.

  14. great recipe...lovely cripy delicious...thanks for sharing

  15. The dish looks too yummy!! Iam sure this tastes good. Thanks for sharing

  16. Oh yes, this is definitely a crowd pleaser. I love these things. I always want to get the ones that were stuck to the bottom of the pan :)

  17. I make this pretty often... as you say it goes very well with rotis and curd rice.

  18. Arts, thanks :)

    Meena, true, potatoes are comfort food in so many parts of the world- whether they are fried or boiled.

    Richa, thanks!

    Tee, yes, this is very similar to kaachrya!

    Cathy, this stuff is addictive! try them :)

    Viji, thanks!

    Saju, I took the picture in great haste...could not wait to eat it :)

    Durga, I'm excited about the round-up too, although it is more than a month away!

    Sreelu, I am a potato fan too :)

    TC, I tried very hard to make every bit as khamanga as possible :)

    Santhi, how about a "potatoes once in a while" rather than "no potatoes" rule ? :)

    Meeta, would love to know the German way to make this...I don't think I have come across it!

    Suganya, yes, a sharp knife and thin slices are really the secret.

    Mandira, it would be perfect with tomato rasam! This time, I served it with radish sambar.

    Dilip, thanks!

    Meena K., glad you like it!

    Cynthia, the burnt ones are certainly the most sought-after!

    Raaga, welcome to my blog!

  19. I have always loved Indian food, the hotter the better! However now for health reasons I am on a "low salt" diets. I know some dishes get their "hot" flavor without a lot of table salt but I dont know which ones. Can anyone help me with this or suggest less spicy dishes I could stay with?

  20. looks yummy yum. very delicious looking. will try out sometime.

  21. Thanks Nupur. I've added a link to your page on mine :)

  22. That sure sounds tasty! Loads better than regular fried potatoes :) And I'm sure it smells fantastic with all those spices...mmm!

  23. very very yummy one ....potatoes ...super ....

  24. Nupur, I had a doubt. does the Saraswat / Konkani dishes come under maharashtrian cuisine category ?

  25. Rick, I guess I am a little confused about your question: spiciness has nothing to do with saltiness per se. You can cook any of your favorite dishes with less salt, and still add spices and make them taste good. I find that the addition of lemon juice to savory dishes makes the flavor pop and lets you get away with less salt than you would normally use. Of course, if you are talking about restaurant food or frozen/ packaged food (whether it is Indian or otherwise), you can be almost sure that there is going to be lots of salt in there! I can't think of many commercially prepared dishes that are low on salt. Good luck with your diet!

    Sharmi, let me know if you try it :)

    Raaga, thanks for stopping by!

    Srivalli, thanks :)

    Joey, yes, I do love this more than plain French fries (although I am addicted to fries too!) and these use way less oil!

    Deepa, glad you like it.

  26. Inspired by the list of ingredients and gorgeous picture, I decided to try my own hand at your Paratlele Batate for dinner tonight. I have had it in restaurants, but have never made my own, so this was a treat for us. Just wanted to let you know that we loved it and there is not a morsel of it left. Many thanks for sharing a wonderful memory and a fabulous dish!

  27. Hi Nupur,

    I am realtively new to the blogging world and was really busy for the past few months to even post something on my blog but I am regular visitor of your blog and many others and enjoy reading all your stories with recipes. I;ve tried your pav-bhaji (twice already) and it was hit both times. I never used to like the pav-bhaji I used to make before and tried different versions. Then I tried yours and I loved it. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  28. Trust you, Nupur, to elevate the humble potato to culinary greatness! Looks just fabulous :)

  29. Sharmi, Sure, why not...the Konkan region spans across three states or so (Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka) so it definitely can be included in Maharashtrian cuisine too! (Plus, I am 1/4 Konkani and hence, biased towards it :D)

    Loren, your comment made my day! I am so thrilled that you got a chance to try this recipe, and that you enjoyed it :)
    I must say I am a bit surprised (and delighted) to hear that you have come across this dish in restaurants...it happens to be a very home-style dish. I certainly wish more restaurants would represent this kind of humble Indian cuisine. Thanks so much for the feedback (and you have a lovely blog).

    Deepika, Thanks so much for letting me know that you tried and enjoyed the pav bhaji recipe! It is one of our favorites...often a friday night ("special") meal at my place. Good luck with your blog, wishing you lots of fun in the food blog world.

    Chinni, thanks :)

    Linda, thanks you so much...as usual, you are being too kind :)

  30. HI! Tried this for lunch yesterday... and it was yummy. Maybe not as crisp as shown in ur pic, but v. tasty. My toddler kept asking for them, and for her it's a big thing as this was quite masaledaar by her standards, and also, she's not a potato person. Thanks for posting this simple and tasty recipe.

  31. Hi, Nupur. I've been looking for a way to pan fry potatoes and this looks fab. Just one thing - people seem so concerned that potatoes are fattening. In fact - 1 (probably medium) potato is 100 calories. Your dish for 3 - has about 200 calories of potatoes (minus the oil, of course) - roughly 67 calories per person....but let's be generous and say 100 calories per serving. NOT fattening...and good for you!


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