Potato the mutual friend of almost all vegetables. We keep hearing this often and to some extent it is undeniably true. Apart from this mutual friend image, potatoes do have a very solid identity which only a junk foodie knows. Just visualize the crispy French fries you had at some point in life. Ummm!!! The perfect crunch outside and a soft savory mass inside. This is the power of potato, with just one ingredient like salt it leaves a mark, give it more ingredients and it works wonders.
Undoubtedly it is a comfort food for you and me alike, isn’t it? There is no way to refuse a fact that we were little hesitant in eating other vegetables as a kid, but potato was our savior. There are very few people who doesn’t like potato and I just don’t understand this case. What has potato done to not be liked by you? I keep asking them this question. The answers are not much amusing, at least come with a strong reasoning for this vegetable hero.
History of Origin
You will be surprised to know that Potato is not at all Indian in origin. In fact it wasn’t till 15th century that potato was introduced to India. Portuguese are credited for introducing potatoes to India. So now you must be thinking that potato is Portuguese in origin, but if you think so then you are wrong dear foodie. Potatoes were indigenous to South American regions which are the modern day countries of Chile, Peru and Bolivia.
In its current form after a long history of evolution, potato was found to be grown in Andean highlands between Peru and Bolivia. The Inca people started the culture of eating it as a vegetable that is somewhere around 8000 BCE to 5000 BCE. A definite period can’t be mentioned as tubers are fragile by the standards of archaeological records. So some documentation and proofs point towards 2500 BCE as the point of contact for potato with human civilization.
Potato going Viral
There is no other vegetable about whom so much of written literature is available. Even after being the fourth largest crop in terms of production potato is center of attraction for almost all food writers. It crossed Atlantic Ocean when the Spaniards went to America in search of spices and other things like claiming new lands, I hope you know that spice story by now. So it is said that potato entered Europe via 2 places, 1570 CE in Spain and somewhere from 1588 to 1593 CE in British Aisles.
Both Spaniards and Britishers considered this to be a food of working class. It spread across Europe for being an easy to grow and easy to store food which had long shelf life. It was only during the famine around 1770s that the potato gained acceptance by highborn and governments together. It was so liked by the people that after red meat and rooster meat, this was a preferred choice of cooking.
In India its recorded entry dates to 1675 CE and it is known that Portuguese propagated cultivation in their owned colonies along the western coast of India. The name Batata was given by Portuguese which till date has been the identity of potato for people from Maharashtra and Goa and few other states. So this is how Indian population met the love of their culinary life. After this introduction you know very well how potato has been innovatively used in Indian cuisine.
In short Potato came to Europe, and it won many hearts in that continent. Then as major European powers were ruling Asia and Africa, they asked the colonized territories to cultivate potatoes for their financial gains and not as a noble act. Whatever their motives were, one thing which was blessing in disguise is that the people started loving potato.
Potato and its love affair with India“I am imagining the blank canvas that is of potato and on that the work of finest spices which creates masterpieces of deliciousness.” Click To Tweet
Maybe it is loved all over the world, but the way India loves it is simply terrific. Just while typing this I am imagining the blank canvas that is of potato and on that the work of finest spices which creates masterpieces of deliciousness. This is absolutely brilliant combination for a cooking enthusiast to showcase how skilled he is in flavours. Potato blends well with all spices and gravies, so if you really want to experiment then sky is the limit. So here we look at some amazing dishes which puts Potato in the limelight.
Kashmiri Dum Aaloo
Tiny potatoes pricked with small holes, parboiled optimally with a little salt and then fried in mustard oil. Cooked with the gravy of onions and curd. The curd based Kashmiri chili powder marinate lifts the flavour profile. With tempering of other spices like asafoetida, fennel, shah-jeera, cinnamon, cloves, and black cardamom. Black peppers and green cardamom. The fried potatoes are submerged in this spicy and sour gravy and cooked in a sealed earthen pot on low flame.
The dum cooking imbibes the flavours from the gravy into the tiny potatoes and the starch breaks down during the process. It is a simply finger licking dish if made right. You rarely get the original dish at all places, most of the restaurants serve a tomato gravy which is slightly sweet and is nothing like original recipe. If you haven’t tried then, please do make it soon and have a finger licking experience for yourself.
Vadapav is famous only because of its soul and that soul is batata vada. Invented in Maharashtra, this dish is a very simple yet in demand over entire Maharashtra. Mashed potatoes cooked with spicy chili, ginger, jeera, coriander and mustard. Then making cute little balls only to be dipped in gram flour batter and deep fried till it achieves perfect crisp.
The aroma oozing out of it while the oil fries it to its crispiest best is something that every person in the world should experience. The crispy besan and the mushy inner stuffing with right mix of spices leaves you stumped. One of the recipes which does complete justice to the stature of Potatoes.
Being a Mumbaikar, I admit that the best Aaloo tikki is not from Mumbai but from Delhi, you can DM me for specific locations. Aaloo tikki is again a beautiful mess of mashed potatoes with the choicest of spices that transform the potato canvas. More commonly found in almost all chat stalls, it is a dish hailing from North India.
Shallow fried in pure ghee to add to the richness of flavours and balance out the extreme spices used. Desi ghee is the only reason why Mumbai chat stalls can’t make the best Aaloo tikki. Served with tamarind chutney, mint-coriander chutney, chat masala and some onions. Any foodie on any given day will not dare to say no to a good Aaloo tikki.
You can call it a sister of Vadapav minus the spiciness in it. One more potato dish with mashed potato as key ingredient and some beautiful ground spices which make it savory. The mashed stuffing is cooked and directly filled in the pav. What adds to the flavours is the additional items like roasted peanuts, pomegranate seeds, and sev.
The stuffing is sweet and sour with mild spices that leave a mark on your taste buds. This stuffing is filled in the pav and then the pav is made crunchy with lots of butter. Born in Gujrat and propagated in Mumbai, this dish is slowly spreading across India.
It is unofficially declared national breakfast of Indians. The stuffing of mashed potato and spices is put inside the dough ball and then flattened before putting it on pan with searing desi ghee. Aaloo remains the base and the spice mixes can vary from region to region. The end product is just irresistible. Serve them hot with curd or mango pickle or lemon pickle and you will get people asking for one more please.
If you haven’t tasted Aaloo chat yet then your story with potato is still incomplete. A very raw kind of culinary recipe which stands out because of the potato in it. The small roughly diced potatoes are shallow fried till they become crispy. Then these potatoes are mixed with chopped ginger, onions, coriander and chat masala. Finished with tamarind chutney and curd (optional).
I bet you can’t resist this tangy and heart filling side dish. Again, Delhi wins the race but honorable mentions include Lucknow and Mumbai.
Khoob BhaalO!!! With the same finesse of this sweet language there lies another hidden gem in Bengal. A traditional recipe with very minimal ingredients. Aaloo Posto is made from three main spices, red chili powder, turmeric and the key ingredient called poppy seeds powder.
Boil the potatoes till they are half done and then sauté the mixture of spices well and add the boiled potatoes to finish this subtly beautiful dish which is like a comfort food. Ask your Bengali friends to make one for you.
There are few other recipes like achari Aaloo or jeera Aaloo that are common in Indian households. I have tried to highlight the recipes where the potato is used as a key ingredient and the flavours play around with this blank canvas. Apart from this potato is an inseparable member of the Indian kitchens. Most celebrated veggie in India.
Potato and the International affairs
Infamously called as French fries and is the global avatar of potato which is loved by almost every global citizen either with ketchup or without ketchup. Without including this in the list the post would have remained incomplete. I dare not explain what French fries are. I will only tell you something that will shock you. Are you ready to know?
Belgium is believed to be the place of origin of French fries and French people are still furious over it. The battle is still on and I would leave that up to you for deciding on what you want to believe. If you want me to cover French Fries in detail then let me know in the comments section below. One thing is sure that this is how French and Belgium was conquered by potato.
In the western countries this is used in many ways, a side dish, a dip or an entire meal. The ways of preparing differs from Europe to America but the essence remains the same. The focus here is on the texture and keeping the other ingredients to minimum numbers. Commonly used ingredients are butter, milk, cream and potatoes along with salt and pepper. The mashing is very important part of this recipe because the way you mash it, is the way it is going to get texture which can change its flavour profile.
You must have seen a video of half wheel of cheese melted at the top and then pushed down on the final dish in all its glory of flavours. That my dear foodie is the raclette cheese which is Swiss in origin. A potato dish with the same name is very simple form of roasted or fried potatoes with their skin intact.
Mostly savored during winters of the Switzerland to add heavy calories to you diet in order to keep you warm. This dish is forgotten as the present day restaurants use just raclette cheese on any dish of choice. This dish made Switzerland a fan of the potato. Check the video to see how original potato raclette is meant to be made and served.
You can call this the international version of Aaloo chat. A potato sliced thinly but with the base intact to give it a half-spiral appearance. This is visually appealing and compels you to eat it whenever offered. Swedish people.
The potato is baked with some seasonings and then after the baking is done another sprinkling of seasonings is sprinkled. This can be a snack which can be served at your home parties. This potato dish was invented in 1953 by Leif Elisson, a trainee chef at the Hasselbacken restaurant in Stockholm.
Simmering the beautiful slices of potatoes in the oil then draining the excess oil, cooling it and putting it inside refrigerator. Remove them, fry the slices one more time and repeat the process one more time. What you achieve after this is a browned potato wedges with extra crispy texture from outside and a mushy interior.
This is a dish from England and invented by Michelin chef Heston Blumenthal. You are free to use seasoning of your choice depending upon your taste and mood, but the texture transforms this dish into a winning delicacy.
Small diced potato chunks dressed in marinade of yogurt, mustard sauce, olive oil and mayonnaise. You can add other stuffs to match the palate requirement of the diners. This Greek recipe is incomplete with lemon juice as it adds that little zing of freshness which is essential to Greek recipes.
A deep fried snack famous from Sicilian region of Italy. Mashed potatoes, eggs, Parmigiano and mozzarella cheese along with parsley and mint leaves are used to make the dough which is then deep fried. Crunchy texture keeps you longing for more. Plus the amalgamation of cheese, potatoes and eggs is a heavenly experience.
These were some of the globally famous potato dishes. For more international potato recipes you can check this post from tasteatlas.com which has covered top 100 famous potato dishes from all around the world.
Lesser Known facts about Potato
The first food to have been grown in outer space when in 1995 the space shuttle Columbia carried it for studying the growth and sustenance.
At any given day it is said that a billion people eat a potato. This proves how much this food is loved globally.
United Nation declared that 2008 was the year of the potato and tried to promote this plant as an excellent way of feeding hungry countries in Africa and Asia.
There are 1000 plus varieties of potatoes but only 100 of them are safe for consumption.
You can survive well with just potato and milk for the rest of your life.
In the 1890s, the Alaskan Klondlike gold rush potato had very high value due to its essential Vitamin C content and this is a reason that they were traded in exchange of Gold!
Potato has more Vitamin C than orange, more potassium than a banana and more fiber than apple. Shocked on that?
Potato and sweet potato are not at all closely related. On the contrary, potato and tomato belong to the nightshade family.
Last but not the least, I bet you haven’t seen a potato plant bearing a potato flower. Check this video out.
To sum it all up, I can fairly say that potato is most loved vegetable of all time. In contradiction to the belief that potatoes are unhealthy, I would like to put my point forward. Potatoes in fried forms like chips, wafers, fries and wedges are bad for health. When consumed in form of healthy preparation it is really healthy food option. They are good for stomach, spleen, and intestines. They improve digestion and are good for heart and are full of nutrients.
I just love potatoes, not because I hate other veggies, but potato is that super food which you just can’t hate. A selfless kind of vegetable which mingles really well with anything and everything. What are your thoughts on potato? Are you a fan of potato or just admirer of this delicious veggie? Let the comments rolls.
With this your foodie_khiladi signs off for the day. If you have any complaints or suggestions then feel free to DM me on foodie_khiladi007 or mail me at [email protected] In case this is your first visit to this site then please check out my other blogs on this link here. I could have kept going with the praise for potato, but time and space constraints have stopped me from overstepping here. I hope you liked this post on the most loved vegetable of the world. See you soon in my next post, till then keep smiling and spreading smiles.