Main menu


Batata Bhaji (Maharashtrian Potatoes) | Kitchn

“Have you made Ashwin his potatoes?” This is the question every single relative asked me when I first met my husband’s family. By “Ashwin’s potatoes,” they meant batata bhaji, the Maharashtrian dish he ate nearly every day while growing up in Mumbai.

In fact, Ashwin grew up on a nearly all-starch diet composed of batata bhaji, dal, rice, and a flatbread called chapati. No meat, no green vegetables. When I ask why, he tells me it’s because he was a sickly child, prone to asthma. I wasn’t aware that an all-starch diet quells asthma, and I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument. I think his parents, who both worked six days a week and commuted on crowded trains for hours daily, were simply too exhausted to argue with their little picky eater.

The truth is, for the longest time I was not making Ashwin his potatoes. This is because batata bhaji requires peeling potatoes, and for reasons every bit as irrational as Ashwin’s all-starch diet, I hate peeling potatoes.

But once I found a work-around in this recipe — more on that below — I found out why these potatoes are worth eating every single day. (Not that we do that!)

This dish is cubed potatoes cooked in mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, curry leaves, little green chilis, minced ginger and garlic, and onion. You toss it with fresh, chopped cilantro leaves before serving. It has all the carby softness of good comfort food, but it’s also fragrant, with layers of spice and flavor.

Could Ashwin learn how to cook these potatoes himself? Certainly. But that would miss the point of batata bhaji. These potatoes are little love notes — first from his parents, and, now that his parents have passed away, from me.

If You’re Going to Make Batata Bhaji, I Have Many Tips

table of contents title