I’m a sucker for all potatoes, and jersey royals are currently flavour of the month. Their waxy interior and flimsy skins require little more than salt and butter, but this would be a pretty dull recipe column if I didn’t give you more than that. So here are two dishes that take their sweet, nutty flavour to the next level, with a jolt of tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns and a drizzle of mouth-puckering tamarind. For maximum potato pleasure, eat these with the remote control in one hand and a fork in the other – couch potato heaven!
Jersey royals with sticky caramel Sichuan peppercorn sauce, peanuts and sesame seeds (pictured top)
The joy of these potatoes is in the mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns found hidden in their crisp crevices.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr
500g jersey royals
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
A handful of roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
1 long red chilli, sliced on the diagonal
For the sauce
125g soft brown sugar
15ml red-wine vinegar
25ml light soy sauce
1 tbsp black Chinese vinegar
25g chilli bean paste or gochujang
A thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
Steam the potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until tender, then take off the heat and let them cool a little.
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Pour the oil into a roasting tin and heat in the oven for five minutes. Crush the potatoes with the bottom of a bowl – not so much that they fall apart, but just so you squash and flatten them and increase the surface area. Take the roasting tin out of the oven, toss the potatoes in the oil and then roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway until they are golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the sugar and 200ml cold water in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves and turns into an amber caramel. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and cook for four to five minutes over a low heat.
Toss the potatoes in the sauce, coating them well, then arrange on a serving platter and top with peanuts, sesame seeds, spring onions and the red chillies. Serve hot.
Jersey royal aloo chaat
More is more here – hot butter-fried potatoes sitting on cold labneh and topped with tamarind chutney and a tangle of textural delights. You can easily find nylon sev (an irresistibly crunchy, fried gram-flour noodle snack) at Indian supermarkets.
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
250g Greek yoghurt
500g jersey royals, halved lengthways
1 tsp rapeseed oil
A handful of nylon sev (you can also use a good-quality Bombay mix or sev mamra)
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into very thin rings
A handful of finely chopped coriander
The seeds from half a pomegranate
For the date and tamarind chutney
5 tbsp tamarind paste
4 medjool dates, pitted
1 heaped tbsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli powder, or to taste
1 tsp cumin, toasted and coarsely ground
1 tsp chaat masala
Black salt or kala namak, to taste (optional)
Start this recipe the day before. Lay a fine sieve lined with muslin over a bowl and put the yoghurt in it. Leave in the fridge overnight to drain.
Bring 300ml water to a boil with the tamarind and dates and simmer until the dates are tender. Cool, puree, then add the sugar, cinnamon, chilli, cumin, chaat masala and kala namak, if using. It should have a thick, pouring consistency like ketchup, so add more water if required. Refrigerate until needed.
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, then drain well. In a large frying pan, melt the butter with a teaspoon of rapeseed oil over medium heat. Put the potatoes cut side down in the hot fat in a single layer and cook on this side only until very crisp and dark golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.
Smooth the strained yoghurt out on the surface of a serving platter and top with the fried potatoes. Drizzle over the date and tamarind chutney and top with sev, onion rings, coriander and pomegranate seeds. Serve at once.