At home we cook potatoes this way when we feel like it, irrespective of the main dish they are supposedly accompanying. You know those evenings when the meal is built around the potatoes you crave. The combination of spices varies as does the intensity of the heat of chillies or pepper, so this recipe is only a sample of endless variations. The basic technique is useful, if you don’t know it. The ideal potato for this is a small round floury one, though bigger ones cut into two-bite chunks are fine.
CHOP THE POTATOES into two-bite chunks if you can’t find any small enough to do whole. Put them in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer (covered), for about 5 minutes to soften the outsides, then drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Put it over a low heat for a minute or two to dry the potatoes. Now, put the lid on the pot tightly and shake the pot vigorously a few times to bash the potatoes off the inside of the pot and each other. This will give them lovely fluffy, battered edges. Perfect for holding the spices and absorbing the butter and oil. Meanwhile, use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to chop the chilli, cumin and pepper into a coarse grind and add the salt. Heat the oven to about 400°F (Gas Mark 6). Put the butter, spices and a tablespoon of olive oil in a roasting dish and put the dish in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter. Put the potatoes in the dish, tossing them well to coat them fairly evenly with the spices. Roast the potatoes until the edges are crisped and the insides well done, about 40 minutes.
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