The only thing that makes Saturday brunch even better is Indian mashed potato cakes. These tasty mashed tater cakes are filled with a touch of Indian spices, peas, and of course, mashed potatoes are easy to make and bake up oil-free in the oven but are seriously hard to resist. We love ’em!
Making perfect mashed potato cakes
What’s the first step? You guessed it – potatoes! I was inspired to make potato patties because I remembered that it’s what my mom sometimes did with leftover mashed potatoes. If you have them hanging around, here’s your chance to give them a makeover. We’re building a healthy recipe here, so be sure you start with healthy potatoes that haven’t been mashed with high-fat ingredients like butter, oil, or other unfriendly plant-based ingredients.
Ode to the potato
Why is it that potatoes, possibly one of the most beloved foods, get such a bad rap? Like a lot of my fellow diet-obsessed, I spent years avoiding potatoes. I read with assured knowledge a 2006 report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition based concluding that there was a slightly increased risk for type 2 diabetes in women who substituted potatoes for whole grains. Those dastardly potatoes and their high glycemic (sugar) could contribute to increased insulin resistance, hence diabetes. I knew it! Potatoes be dammed.
Even when I discovered plant-based eating, it was years before I felt comfortable embracing potatoes. And that’s despite living with someone referred to as ‘potato man’. But, as I trekked, my plant-based journey evolved beyond eating. I started reading, researching, learning, taking courses, even earning a formal certificate in plant-based nutrition through eCornell.
And that brought me back to that ‘bad potato’ study and a moment of enlightenment. I took a closer look and realized that the results were based on the options of eating baked or mashed or French-fried potatoes. Peel the skin of that and there is no restriction on how the potatoes are prepared. Is it seriously ground-breaking to discover that eating French fries or potatoes mashed with butter and milk every day leads to a high incidence of type 2 diabetes?
What about the glycemic index?
The glycemic index (GI) is a score given to foods based on how quickly they raise your blood sugar levels. Foods lower with a lower GI score produce better insulin responses. A good aim unto itself, but if taken by itself, the story of a particular food remains untold. And although it may be true that potatoes are high in carbohydrates, that also means they are high in fuel and that is our body’s reason for us eating.
If you release the demons associated with potatoes, like all the fattening toppings and the oils that they are usually prepared with, there are great reasons to celebrate (and eat) potatoes. And the 2.5 g grams of fiber per potato, plus vitamins C and B, potassium and other minerals and the things they lack like sodium, cholesterol, and fat (1%) are reasons to celebrate those beloved potatoes.
Dr. John McDougal rates potatoes in 3 precise ways:
1. Don’t be dense – potatoes have a low-calorie density. There are only about 150 calories in a potato which means you can eat a lot of potato for the same calories you get in just one tiny dollop of say, butter.
2. The fat you eat is the fat you wear – that dollop of butter is 70% fat and the whole potato? 1 %.
3. Carbohydrates satisfy the hunger drive – If you eat that potato, chances are, you’ll fill yourself up in no time. Eat the butter, that has no carbs and well, you’ll be needing something in short order and it could be even more butter.
Potato cake tricks
After a few tasty tries in perfecting this recipe, I learned that it works best if you first mash the potatoes with the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Then mix in the chickpea flour. The chickpea flour is great here and it’s also gluten-free; however, if you can’t find it, you can use the same amount (2 tablespoons) of regular flour. I’ve also had success making my own chickpea flour by using a spice grinder to grind dry chickpeas. The small amount of flour is there to bind the cakes, so they stick together when baked.
Boil and prep
As you might conclude, living with the ‘potato man’ means there usually aren’t leftover mashed potatoes in our fridge. So I started with this recipe by boiling 2 peeled and cubed potatoes. This was plenty of time to sauté the onion, jalapeno, and ginger. I even gathered the spices and mixed them up so I was ready to go. This is also a good time to thaw the frozen peas. Just toss them in a wire strainer and run hot water over them. That does the trick and helps in keeping the moisture content down for the yummy mashed potato patties you are already looking forward to.
Toss the masher, grab a spoon
Once you mix in the chickpea flour, you just toss everything in and holy potatoes, you are all ready to make patties. I ended up with 8 potato cakes, using about ½ cup of the potato mixture per patty, but of course, the amount will be dictated by their size.
Once you have them made, I highly recommend allowing them to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you don’t have room for a baking tray, then just put them on a plate or even a chopping board or mat. Don’t layer them until after baking or they will stick together. Cooling them firms them up, so they don’t break apart when you bake them. You can also prepare them and keep them in the fridge overnight, which means – Saturday morning lie-in.
Bake, dress and dip
Even with a non-stick pan, I found parchment paper a big help in making the patties easier to flip midway through the baking process. You want to allow about 20 minutes for baking, but the aim is to have the potato cakes baked brown and slightly crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. I had a bit of vegan sour cream leftover, so mixed that with some jarred salsa, and they are wonderful with tomato chutney, but to be honest we’ve also had them with ketchup and suffered no problem devouring them.
Thinking about my unraveling of the potato scare of 2006 reminds me that the power of learning is also about discerning. We can read headlines and claim to be informed about nearly everything these days. But discernment, the ability to make a good judgment about the ‘truth’ of a headline requires more than a glance and nod. And sometimes, when you take a good look, consider the rationale behind a claim, consider other sources of reliable research, you make wonderful discoveries – like mashed potato cakes are good for you. Peace.Print
- 2 large potatoes (2 cups ½ cups diced), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 small red onion, diced (1/2 cup)
- 1–2 jalapenos, diced (removed the seeds or use only 1 chili if you want to reduce the heat)
- 1 – inch knob of ginger, minced (1 Tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. garam masala
- ¼ tsp. (pinch) of cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. salt (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (1/2 fresh lemon)
- 2 Tbsp. chickpea flour (gram flour)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped
- Prepare the potatoes by peeling and dicing them, placing them in a medium pot and covering them with water. Bring the pot to a boil, then down to simmer can cover the pot. Cook the potatoes until they are soft when pierced with a fork (15-20 minutes).
- When the potatoes are done, you’ll want to drain them and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Then, place them in a bowl for mashing.
- While the potatoes cook, thaw the frozen peas by placing them in a colander or strainer and running hot water over them. Set them aside.
- Sauté the onion, jalapeno, and ginger for 5 minutes to soften them up. You can just leave them in the pan until you are ready to mix them in.
- Once the potatoes have cooled slightly, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Mash all the ingredients.
- Add 2 Tbsp. chickpea flour and mix it in with a spoon (or you can use the masher).
- Fold in the cooked onions, jalapenos, and ginger, the thawed peas, and the cilantro.
- Make potato cakes using about ½ cup of the mixture (you can vary the sizes, just be consistent so they bake evenly).
- Place the cakes into the fridge and allow them to cool and set for 30 minutes (or longer if desired).
- To bake the cakes, preheat the oven the 4000 F (2000 C).
- If you cooled the patties on a baking tray, then just slide it into the oven, if not, transfer it to a baking tray. Lining the tray with parchment paper helps in keeping the cakes from sticking, but you can just use your tray if desired.
- Bake the cakes for 10 minutes or until they start to brown, flip them and bake another 10 minutes until they have browned on the other side.
- Serve with your favorite dips, ketchup, or salsa.
- 30 minutes for cooling, the formed cakes are included in the prep time.
- This is the an ideal recipe for leftover mashed potatoes. Even if you mash them with the skins (which we often do) with added fresh garlic, they still make delicious potato cakes.
- If desired, you can steam the potatoes rather than boil them. Just be sure they are soft enough to mash easily.
- If you have a good, non-stick skillet, you can also fry the potato cakes. I’ve personally, not tried this, but watch this space – I will be.
- Category: On the Side
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: Indian mashed potato cakes