When people come over to my house for Indian food for the first time, I often serve Potato Shaak. I like it because it is so representative of the flavors of Indian cooking, and it just feels like a homestyle meal.
I find that most people are really comfortable with potatoes. Potatoes just say home regardless of what country you are from. In the pressure cooker the potatoes absorb the flavors of the cumin and the mustard seed almost all the way through.
And while you still end up with diced chunks of potato, a flavorful gravy forms from the starches that tie the dish together. And the onions turn into a sweet, jammy texture without any sautéing.
Potatoes were brought from Peru to India from the Portuguese. They quickly became an integral part of the Indian diet.
My mom used to make this shaak often when I was growing up. Now I make it all the time. I often use it as a stuffing for dosa. But we also eat it with parathas, or if I’m really just trying to whip something up quickly, we’ll just eat it with flour tortillas.
It is such as simple dish because you just do a vaghaar and then throw in raw potatoes and onions, a little water and about fifteen minutes later you’ve got dinner.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 dried red chili optional
- a few curry leaves optional
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1 pound diced potatoes about 3 medium potatoes
- ¾ cup water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- Slice up the onions and dice the potatoes before starting, this goes quick.
- Make a vaghaar by heating the vegetable oil in the pressure cooker. It is hot enough when you add a few mustard seeds and they pop. Add all of the mustard and cumin seeds and the red chili and curry leaves if you are using them.
- When the vaghaar becomes toasty and fragrant, add potatoes, onions, water, turmeric, salt and red chili powder.
- Boil under pressure for 10 minutes (lower the heat and start the timer when the pressure cooker achieves pressure).