SOME years ago, in Nicosia, I remember watching Marios Mourtzis, a Cypriot chef and cooking teacher, smash uncooked new potatoes with the palm of his hand as he explained how to cook this dish. Smashing raw potatoes is not easy—they may end up flying all over your kitchen. It is better to smash them half-cooked. Marios explained to me that the name antinaktes comes from an ancient Greek verb meaning “to throw something up in the air,” describing the way the potatoes are tossed during cooking. Chefs will certainly toss the potatoes, but you don’t need to.
This is an extremely simple Cypriot dish, fragrant with crushed coriander. In Cyprus, they also cook small taro roots in the same way.
Serve with grilled meat or poultry, or with Veal Stew with Coriander Seeds.
Soak the potatoes in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrub very well to clean and remove most of the skin. Dry with paper towels.
In a large, deep skillet with a lid, heat the oil. Add only as many potatoes as will fit in a single layer without crowding, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Turn the potatoes, cover again and cook for 6 minutes more. With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a plate and cook the next batch. Set the skillet aside.
One at a time, place each potato on a cutting board and press with the side of a large knife or with a spatula just until the potato cracks—it should keep its shape.
Return all the potatoes to the skillet, set it over high heat and add the coriander seeds and salt to taste. When the potatoes begin to sizzle, add the wine—be careful, because it will bubble vigorously. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Toss or stir well, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
Add the cilantro or parsley and pepper to taste and serve at once.
© 2000 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.