Recipe error – Potatoes

The book is Anupi Singla’s Indian for Everyone, published in 2014 by the Surrey Books imprint of Agate Publishing; also a quality paperback 2016 and an ebook in the Amazon Kindle store.

The problem in the recipes for Aloo Mattar at p. 95, Panak Aloo at p. 97, and Aloo Gobi at p. 98 in the printed editions is the cooking time for the potatoes (aloo). In these recipes, the raw chopped potatoes are added to lightly fried onions and spices and stir fried for a couple of minutes and then cooked on low after other vegetables are added, for about 20 minutes. These are all sabji or stir fried dishes, in this author’s presentation. The result was crunchy and barely cooked potatoes.

The author prefers to use peeled Russet potatoes. Russets is the collective term of a few cultivars, including Idaho – the brown, thick skinned starchy potatoes chosen as baking potatoes and potatoes for deep frying as “French fries. This does not explain the outcome.

The error is a missed or unstated step. The missing step adds to the time to prepare this meal, and involves additional vessels and resources – another pot on the stove or an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker to cook or parcook the potatoes. Madhur Jaffrey has similiar vegetable stir fry recipes for potatoes in At Home with Madhur Jaffrrey but she has boiled the potatoes before using them.

It is not necessary to cook the potatoes until they crumble, but the potatoes need some cooking time before putting them a stir fry.

The technique to cook potatoes on in a vessel on a stove is to scrub the potatoes and cut out eyes and other visible surface defects,cover the potatoes in water, bring the pot to a boil and simmer. Thick skinned starchy potatoes should be better peeled. Peeling thinner skinned potatoes (i.e. white or yellow or many varieties of red) is a matter of taste and purpose. Salting the cooking water is an option. The cooking time depends on the kind of potatoes and size of the pieces. Baby waxy potatoes may take less than 15 minutes. Small potatoes and quarters of medium and larger potatoes may take 20-25 minutes.

The cooking time for potatoes at high pressure (11-12 psi; ie. at 242-244 degrees F.) in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure multi-cooker is 8 minutes. To parcook, I use 3 minutes on high or 4-5 minutes on low. I use a bain marie method – the potatoes in a ceramic vessel on a rack in the pressure pot. (There is water in the pressure pot of course, put the potatoes are cooked by steam water that being boiled in water). For pressure cookers, some fluid is needed but it is not necessary to cover the potatoes; the potatoes can be kept out of the fluid by using a rack or steamer basket, or a bain marie vessel. The cooking time (on high) and release method vary:

PotatoFluid (per JN)Time | release
Stovetop 15 psi
Electric or Instant Pot 12 psi
JNLPLP
Whole large or medium.5-1 cup10-14 min. | Natural 10-13 min. | Either13-15 min. | Either
Quarters
Large chunks
.25-.5 cups
More fluid for mashed
4-5 min. | Manual5 min. | Either8 min. | Either
Small whole.5 cups8-10 min. | Natural5 min. | Either7 min. | Either
Baby, fingerling.25-.5 cups1-2 min. | Manual5 min. | Natural8 min. | Natural
Sliced or diced.25-.5 cups3 min. | Manual
Jill Nussinow, Vegan Under Pressure; Laura Pazzaglia, Hip Pressure Cooking

It is possible to add a little water and leave the dish simmering and steaming for an extra hour. This works with peas (Aloo Mattar) but less well with cauliflower.

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