A curry of new potatoes with tomatoes

This has nothing to do with mash, or truffles, or whiskey, but more to do with some fiddling I’ve been doing with potatoes since several happy visits to very good Indian eating houses. It is best made the day before you want it.

onions, sliced

1 clove garlic, sliced finely

2 solid dessertspoons of garam masala (a hip Indian term for a spice mix) — Make your own mix. A suggested version is: 2 tablespoons coriander, 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, 3 hot dried chillies, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds,

1 tablespoon caraway seeds, a few dried curry leaves

2 tablespoons cumin seeds,

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds, all whizzed up in a coffee grinder. Add a tablespoon of ground turmeric for colour. But really it’s what you have in the cupboard: a mix of heat, sweetness and subtlety.

a little water

6–8 firm waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized pieces — They must hold their own when cooked. Pontiacs (the pink skinned variety> are the type most likely to be available at your fruiterer. Patrone, a newish yellow variety, is ideal.

8 skinned cooking tomatoes, in season (or a small tin of tomatoes, with juice), mashed

1–3 chillies, depending on how hot you like it


Put the onions, garlic, garam masala and a little olive oil in a large pan. Cook very slowly on a low heat until the onions caramelise and become very tender. This will take at least 20 minutes, and you might need to add a little water here and there. There are no short cuts — just dream of nice things as you watch and stir. The aroma makes it worthwhile anyway.


Transfer to a saucepan and add the potatoes and the tomatoes (and chillies if you wish). Cook slowly on a low heat until the potatoes are done and the sauce has thickened. The idea is for the tomatoes to cook into a thick spicy sauce, hugging the potatoes. It will take about a half an hour, and again it needs a deal of watching and stirring gently. It needs a little touch to know whether to add a little water here and there to prevent sticking, or just to stir a little harder.


Leave overnight to allow the flavours to mingle, and then reheat gently.

WINE: Drink beer.