Indian Spiced Potatoes and the Non-Cook’s Baggage

Author: Shannon Miller

Potato-cauliflower curry

Article by Alma Schneider

I am so tired these days but was fortunately able to rest up and enjoy a skillfully executed dinner party at a friend’s house with an Indian theme.

The dinner party: The lovely host and hostess prepared an involved vegetarian feast with many appetizers, entrees, side dishes and condiments as well as dessert. They combined ready made Indian apps and desserts with everything else homemade. A perfect blend that allowed for a lot of variety and an opportunity for them not to have been slaves to the kitchen the entire day.

Instead, they spent most of their day in Edison, NJ which is heavily populated with people of Indian descent and first generation Indians, food- shopped for the party, exposed their kids to a different culture and the foods of that culture. Both  little ones, under 4, ate lunch there and loved it. What a dream day and what a fun and creative way to incorporate cultural and food diversity
into your family’s life.

During the course of the evening, someone brought up how easy it is for an adult to say they want to take on skateboarding and so they simply take lessons. They went on to say that it was a much more charged issue if that same person who lacks skills in the kitchen were interested in learning the basics of cooking. The notion that they should know how to cook by now makes it embarrassing and frustrating to be seen as a novice in the kitchen. This baggage can serve as a further impediment to taking charge and taking the basics steps to learn how to cook.

At a later point in the evening, someone else mentioned how their mother gave them their recipes from A-Z to have for posterity. Again, the ability to pass on what I call, “heirloom recipes” is a very emotional one for  many of us. All the memories of our loved ones making food and providing all those food memories for us can be so family strengthening, reminding us of happy times when we felt nurtured. Many of us want to provide those kind of memories but still struggle with the kitchen and all it entails.

All to say that food and cooking are constants in all of our lives. They are not going away, so let’s continue discussing how we can explore our individual and collective struggles to get all we want and need out of the kitchen for ourselves and our family.

Here’s my take on an Indian classic. Enjoy!

Spicy Potatoes and Cauliflower


1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces and steamed
4 med. sized potatoes, peeled, diced and steamed
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS whole black mustard seeds
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
garnish with cashews and toasted coconut or sweetened coconut from the bag


  1. In a large frying pan, heat up oil.
  2. When hot (throw in a mustard seed and see if it pops), add the garam masala,black mustard seeds, pepper, curry powder and coriander.
  3. Stir for a minute or so until fragrant.
  4. Add in the already steamed potatoes and cauliflower and toss until vegetables are heated through and evenly covered with the spices.
  5. Remove from heat, top with chopped cilantro and cashews (and coconut if you are using).
  6. I like to serve this with a little plain yogurt on the side mixed with some fresh, chopped mint and diced cukes-your call.

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