Panch-phoran potatoes

Frank Camorra
Humble vegetables get a kick from a fragrant spice mix.
Humble vegetables get a kick from a fragrant spice mix. Photo: Marcel Aucar

Dinner at a friend's house introduced me to panch phoran - a whole spice blend from eastern India. The name means five spices, and it's a mixture of fenugreek, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed. You can substitute the potatoes for green vegetables such as beans, broccoli or zucchini and this dish is an excellent accompaniment for roast meats such as lamb shoulder, beef ribs or a traditional Sunday roast.


800g desiree potatoes, peeled

100ml vegetable oil

3 tbsp panch-phoran mix

1 brown onion, roughly diced

1 tbsp ginger, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped

8 fresh curry leaves

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp sea salt

2 tomatoes, diced

100g frozen peas

1/2 cup picked fresh coriander, washed



Cut potatoes into 2-centimetre pieces.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over a medium heat. Toast the panch phoran in the oil for about a minute or until the spices release their aroma.*

Add the onion and cook until golden, then add the potatoes, ginger, garlic, chilli, curry leaves, turmeric, salt and tomatoes. Stir well to coat everything in the spices.

Add water so the potatoes are not quite covered.

Add the peas, bring to a simmer then cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender. Add more water if it gets too dry then check seasoning and put into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with coriander before serving.

* When toasting spices it is important to keep an eye on the heat of the pan. If the spices burn, throw them out and start again.