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Also Known as
Batata, Aloo, alu, bateta
Whether mashed, baked or roasted, people often regard potatoes as comfort food. It is an important staple food and the number one vegetable crop in the world. The potatoes are the swollen portion of the underground stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the plant. There are about 100 varieties of edible potatoes. They range in size, shape, color, starch content and flavor. They are often classified as either mature potatoes (the large potatoes that we are generally familiar with) or new potatoes (those that are harvested before maturity and are of a much smaller size). The skin of potatoes is generally brown, red or yellow, and may be smooth or rough, while the flesh is yellow or white.
As potatoes have a neutral starchy flavor, they serve as a good complement to many meals. Their texture varies slightly depending upon their preparation, but it can be generally described as rich and creamy. Being a versatile food, it can be used chopped, cubed, grated or sliced.
Boiled and chopped potatoes
Boiled and chopped potatoes are used mainly for making parathas, starters, snacks and vegetables. You pressure cook the potatoes for 3 to 4 whistles. Cool the potatoes, peel and chop them. Stores your potatoes in the refrigerator and use when required.
Boiled and mashed potatoes
Peel and boil 4 to 6 medium-size potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. You can also pressure cook it for 15 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander and shake until the potato pieces are dry and mealy. Mash it using a potato masher or heavy fork. Work out lumps as best as you can to desired smoothness. This can be further used for stuffing or to make cutlets and varied savory food items.
Wash the potatoes thoroughly and peel it. Chop it into half or as desired by the recipe and put into a saucepan of boiling water. Boil for 20 - 30 minutes, and then drain off the water. Insert a fork to check whether it's cooked or not.
Potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled, as desired. Take a sharp knife and then cut it into half from the centre. Cut the half portion into another half. Chop ingredients by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger.
There are two main varieties of potatoes which are used in cooking- namely waxy potatoes and mealy potatoes. Mealy potatoes are preferred in recipes which call for frying since they have lower moisture content and will not caramelize or brown much during frying. Potatoes can be stir fried, shallow fried, pan fried or deep fried as per the recipe requirements. Once fried, drain the potatoes on absorbent paper to discard off excess oil.
Potatoes can be grated thinly or thickly using a grater as preferred.
Par boiled and grated potatoes
Pressure cook the potatoes for 3 whistles or till they are 90% cooked. Allow potatoes to cool. Peel the potatoes and grate them thickly with the help of the grater. Use par boiled and grated potatoes for recipes like rosti and parathas.
Dice or cube ingredients by cutting them into uniform strips. Line up the strips with your non-working hand and cut them into square pieces. Cube them as per the recipe's need regarding the size of the cubes, (for example, "cut into ½-inch cubes").
How to Select
Peel the potato, if you would like. Then, cut it into half. Slice using a sharp knife by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice them thinly or thickly as per the recipie. The slices can be boiled and cut as per the recipe requirements.
While potatoes are often conveniently packaged in a plastic bag, it is usually better to buy them individually from a bulk display. Not only will this allow you to better inspect the potatoes for signs of decay or damage, but many times, the plastic bags are not perforated and cause a build up of moisture that can negatively affect the potatoes. Potatoes should be firm, well shaped and relatively smooth, and should be free of decay that often manifests as wet or dry rot. In addition, they should not be sprouting or have green coloration since this indicates that they may contain the toxic that imparts an undesirable taste.
Sometimes stores will offer already cleaned potatoes. These should be avoided since when their protective coating is removed by washing, potatoes are more vulnerable to bacteria. In addition, already cleaned potatoes are also more expensive, and since you will have to wash them again before cooking, you will be paying an unnecessary additional cost.
Since new potatoes are harvested before they are fully mature, they are much more susceptible to damage. Be especially careful when purchasing these to buy ones that are free from discoloration and injury. Avoid potatoes with soft spots or blemishes, a greenish tint, or sprouts. Culinary Uses
· Potatoes should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration that occurs with exposure to air. Scrub the potatoes after washing them using a serrated knife to remove the excess dirt if any. Wash and then use in recipes.If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting, place them in a bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice, as this will prevent their flesh from darkening and will also help to maintain their shape during cooking. As potatoes are also sensitive to certain metals that may cause them to discolor, avoid cooking them in iron or aluminum pots or using a carbon steel knife to cut them.
· Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
· Potatoes are a featured ingredient in many classic dishes.
· Toss steamed diced potato with olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice.
· If sprouts have formed, scrape them off. Also, remove off-color spots; some of these contain a mild toxin known as solanine.
· Hash browns Potatoes - In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter (or olive oil) over medium heat. Add coarsely shredded potatoes; cover, and cook until bottom is golden brown, adjusting heat as necessary. Turn potatoes over carefully to brown opposite side. Season with salt and pepper. Note: Turn only once for crisper potatoes.
· Don't forget, the fiery taste of Vada-Pav and Potato bhaji - extensively relished.
· Potato mashed can be used either alone or in combination with other grated or chopped veggies with spices to make savoury item or snacks - Aloo ki tikkis, Stuffed Parathas.
· Potato Vegetable can be made using chopped, cubed or whole potato, as desired.
· Whole small sized potatoes are often filled with mixture of spices and coriander and stuffed and cooked - Dum Aloo.
· Aloo chana chat is a favourite food enjoyed among all age groups.
· A simple dry potato bhaji or gravy potato vegetable tastes yum with roti, parathas, bhakri or thepla and bread too!
· Potatoes are best for baking, potato salads, mashing, soups and chowders, pan-frying, French fries, roasting, steaming, sandwiches! Experiment with your imagination and use potato as you want with any spice of your choice as it blends well with almost everything.How to Store
The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry, cool, dark area with good ventilation. Potatoes should definitely not be exposed to sunlight as it turns the skin green and makes the potato bitter. Also, Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Wherever you store them, they should be kept in a paper bag.
Mature potatoes stored properly can keep up to two months. Check on the potatoes frequently, removing any that have sprouted or shriveled as spoiled ones can quickly affect the quality of the others. New potatoes are much more perishable and will only keep for one week.
Cooked potatoes will keep fresh in the refrigerator for several days. Potatoes do not freeze well. Health Benefits
· Potatoes are a very popular food source. Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potatoes are typically loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, and melted cheese and bacon bits. Such treatment can make even baked potatoes a potential contributor to a heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
· Potatoes as a very good source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.
· Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity.
· The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from this vegetable, don't peel it and consume both the flesh and the skin. Just scrub the potato under cold running water right before cooking and then remove any deep eyes or bruises with a paring knife. If you must peel it, do so carefully with a vegetable peeler, only removing a thin layer of the skin and therefore retaining the nutrients that lie just below the skin.
· Raw potato juice taken 1 or 2 teaspoon before meals relieves the pain caused due to rheumatism, in stomach and intestinal disorders.
· Raw juice applied externally cures skin blemishes.
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