Wednesday, June 25, 2014

As You Like It 'West Asian' Potatoes

Where I work, we have always been encouraged to refer to the Middle East as West Asia. The reason is explained here. My own exposure to West Asia is limited - I have friends who grew up there, I have been there for just half a day en route to Ireland, and I have several spices and condiments from there. I have had these for several years, the most recent ones are several months old.

I made these without any Internet consultation, just to use up the spices, but just now, before writing this post, when I searched for West Asian Potatoes, I did not find any direct hits, just a lot of scholarly discussions on potato farming. I did find several recipes for Middle Eastern ones, though, but mine look very different. I have many times roasted potatoes in the oven with zatar but this is the first time I am pan-frying them.

For me, this recipe is  a keeper. It has the spice mix zatar, sumac and pul biber, a chilli powder, spices from more than one West Asian region, and mellowed in intensity a few hours after cooking. It was quite tangy initially, even though I used only a pinch of sumac. It was not as salty as it might have been because when I added salt, I forgot that zatar has salt in it. Pul biber does too. I have called it As You Like It because I used as much spice as I deemed fit, did not use any calculations for it.

Peeled potatoes, cut into wedges - 3 large (or about 600 gm)
Zatar: 2 tbsp
Pul Biber: 1-2 tsp
Sumac: A pinch
Salt: A pinch
Extra virgin olive oil: 2 tbsp

Heat the oilve oil gently in a skillet and swirl it around.
Put the wedges in and saute for a couple of minutes.
Then add the zatar and toss them gently so that they are all coated.
Now add the pul biber, the sumac and the salt and mix well but gently.
Cover with a lid and let them cook through on simmer. Check to ensure they are not burning. When they yield to pressure, they are done. This takes about 10-15 minutes.


  1. Love the spice combination for the potatoes Sra. I have some zatar at home, making it over the weekend.

    1. Did you try it yet, Mandira? I thought I had replied to your comment, very strange!

  2. For me the info about Middle east is mentioned as West Asia is really new to me, pul biber i clicked thecling, next time when i go to the turkish shop in Brussels i will look for it. Potatoes look fingerlicking delicious :-)

    1. hey, didn't I reply to these long ago? I just came to reply to the latest comment. I learnt about Middle East and West Asia only after I started working, Finla!

  3. I have to google 'pul biber', has a nice ring to it. Post a pic of the spices if you can

  4. Hi Sra! I've been going backwards from August to catch up with you here :) "West Asia" is new on me, but these spices are not. Twenty years ago my across-the-street neighbors were Lebanese -- I learned the delights of sumac and za'atar from them. Aleppo pepper -- I think that is "pul biber"? -- has been more elusive. At any rate, I must find some because these potatoes look fantastic.


I moderate all my comments. So if you're a human spammer or a bot that can understand this warning, buzz off, don't waste your time here spamming.