I grew up in Delhi where my upbringing was anything but normal. My father was probably the most unorthodox of Indian fathers – he used to take me duck hunting (my sister and I had to sit at the back of his Vespa and hold his shotgun and all his other hunting supplies) in the winters, or trek through the woods that surrounded Delhi in search of partridges or practice target shooting in our backyard! He was an expert on Hemingway and taught at a prestigious Indian university. His little kitchen garden was his pride and joy. So he was a professor by day and a part-time farmer by evening. This kitchen garden of his was the bane of my life. Every evening when I wanted to go out and play with the kids from the neighborhood, he would make me walk through his vegetable patch and give me the complete show-and-tell of his most recent produce. One year, among other things, he grew potatoes and I was made to sort through mounds of dirt to separate the little potatoes from the caked mud. The hardest thing was to distinguish the little suckers from balls of dirt (they were both the same size and the same color). However, I do remember that the tastiest potatoes from that crop were the smallest marble sized ones – which took the most time and effort to harvest and clean!
Last week, while walking through the aisles of Whole Foods, I found a bag of mini potatoes that reminded me of the year when my father made me help him sort through piles and piles of dug up dirt to pick out the potatoes and how much I resented having to do that work. The sight of those potatoes at Whole Foods made me smile – the weird thing is that after all those years of cribbing, cursing under my breath and vowing never to do this work when I had control over my own life, I actually made a kitchen garden of my own and I totally love it. The only difference is that I don’t make my kids do any of the work in it and I am sure even if I tried, these are kids of a different generation and they would refuse to do it no matter how much I threatened.
Anyway, last week I bought a pound of the baby-potatoes and cooked them with a little bit of Dijon mustard and rosemary for flavoring. They came out absolutely delicious and I ate them as a side dish. But the next time I think I will use them as hor d’oeuvres at a dinner party – they’d go perfectly well with beer or wine!
1. I lb of baby/mini potatoes – or use fingerling potatoes
2. One medium onion
3. 1-2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
4. 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
5. 1.5 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
6. One fresh lemon
7. One teaspoon of peppercorns
8. Salt to taste
9. 1-2 teaspoons of honey
10. 2 small fresh rosemary sprigs
1. Wash the potatoes in cold water and cut them into small even sized bites (if they are the very small marble sized ones, no need to cut them).
2. Place the potatoes in a pyrex or any microwave-safe dish with about 2-3 tablespoon of water and heat them in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high heat (this way we can cook and soften them up).
3. Peel and slice the onion.
4. Wash the rosemary sprigs and finely chop the leaves.
5. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in heavy bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat.
6. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onion pieces to the pan and cook them over medium heat for 5-6 minutes (until they look translucent) – stir them constantly or they may burn.
7. Add the microwaved potatoes to the pan and stir thoroughly and continue cooking the potatoes.
8. Using a zester, zest one yellow lemon and add the zest to the pan.
10. Also add the garlic powder, salt and chopped rosemary leaves and let the potatoes cook for another 3-4 minutes (stir regularly).
11. Juice one lemon (the one you had zested earlier would be best, I guess) and add the juice to the honey and Dijon mustard and whisk these ingredients together to make a dressing
12. Add this dressing to the pan and stir all the contents of the pan thoroughly so that all the potatoes are covered with the dressing. Continue cooking the potatoes for another minute or two.