the potato, aptly described by so many great thinkers as eminently tasteless, has a bad name in this house. and with good reason. it even surprised this author to see it appear in this space. but things were rough, there was sickness, there was cold icy winds and someone spent all the money on vanilla beans. (though its like i always say, better to split and scrape the money than drink it). and i happened upon a nigella lawson recipe for potatoes in whole spices. my brief for this meal was: “hot. fucking hot”. my own financial limitations meant that the vessel for this heat would have to be cheap. and so it was, the potato. if its good enough for nigella its good enough for me. i have only faith in her ability to take a starch and make it deliciously starchier. and i justified the whole exercise in my mind by proclaiming it a celebration of peasants, labourers and democracy. besides which, my eater was sickly and tired of wankery and in the words of diderot, the glorious potato, while “tasteless” and disagreeable, supplies food “sufficiently abundant and sufficiently healthy for men who ask only to sustain themselves.” and isnt that all any of us ask? so in the name of survival, denis diderot, the workers of the world, nigella lawson, and dinner proper, i give to you potatoes. in whole spices. because were not fucking peasants.
2tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves finely sliced
1/2tsp chili powder
1/2tsp sea salt
1/2tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2tsp nigella sees
1/2tsp black mustard seed
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1/2tsp fennel seeds
cut the potatoes into cubes, or whatever shape you can get. if geometry eludes you just chop merrily and enjoy the simplicity of space which has no properties. put olive oil into a pan over medium heat and throw in your garlic and the potatoes. cover with a lid for about ten minutes until they are soft but still half un-cooked.
remove the lid and first, add in the ground spices. then add in the 5 whole spices and toss until they are all evenly-coated.
cover with the lid once again and let them cook until they are cooked through. remove the lid and let them fry gently for a few minutes to get rid of any excess water. serve however you want. i should add that these should be quite mushy. i however, was unable to find a suitable lid which fit the width of my pan and so they did not have the chance to steam and go to mush. as a result they were more akin to crispy potatoes…but i consider that to be a success rather than a failure. (well yes id have to wouldnt i).
i will leave you with a timely quote from nietzsche who once said that a “diet that consists predominantly of rice leads to the use of opium just as a diet that consists predominantly of potatoes leads to the use of liquor.” maybe so and yet it fulfilled its every function – cheap. hot. photogenic. and bolg-worthy. hurrah for the humble potato. chin chin. or Будем здоровы, as they say in the old country.