A potato salad for the rest of us

Indian potato salad

I love potatoes, and I love mayonnaise, but I just can't handle the combination. There's something about the standard creamy potato salad served at barbecues throughout summer that is too cloying, too much for me — I feel like one spoonful and I've exceeded my RDI of mayo three times over. It doesn't help that an alarming number of these potato salads also contain undercooked potatoes, so I tend to steer clear. I know I'm not alone: I was at a barbecue a few summers back when the topic seemed to hit a nerve in a friend's (now ex-) girlfriend who visibly annoyed asked, "Why are so many potato salads undercooked??" A voice offered charitably that maybe they're meant to be a little undercooked. "They're not okay, they're fucking not!"

Yeah, she was a psycho. But a psycho with a point.

Well you won't find any undercooked potatoes in this salad, and nor will you find mayonnaise. The salad itself is fresh and extremely simple to make, and tossed with a dressing that's tart and full of wonderful spices it's a refreshing change from the usual.

Indian potato salad

Ingredients (makes 1 generous serving, but doubles and triples easily):

  • 1 large desiree potato, boiled/steamed/microwaved with skin on
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp minced shallot
  • 1/2 cup of fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil (or any mostly flavourless oil)
  • 1 tsp spice mixture (recipe below)
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind concentrate1
  • Salt, to taste

1. Prepare the dressing by combining the oil, spice mixture, tamarind, and salt, and mixing well. Taste and adjust the sour/salty ratio as you like.
2. Chop the potato into medium chunks, and place in a bowl with the tomato, shallots, and half of the coriander. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine. Scatter the remaining coriander leaves over and serve.

Spice mixture

Used in the above recipe, this mixture also is a great base for a simple vegetarian curry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 large dried chilli
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1. Toast the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, and chilli. Cool and grind with the garam masala and turmeric, then store in a sealed container. For best flavour, use within a few days of grinding.

(1) This is a tricky one. There are so many different ways to get tamarind that unless your preparation is exactly the same a mine the balance of sourness will be different (mine is a very concentrated paste with the texture of molasses). Also, not everyone has easy access to tamarind in any form, so: If you have tamarind, use it to taste. Otherwise use lime or lemon juice, and I'd recommend about 1 tsp.

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