This dish, from a Hindu Goan restaurant in Bombay, tastes best if made with waxy potatoes. It is generally eaten with rice or rice breads, but can also be rolled up in a chapati, along with some chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and eaten as a snack or for lunch.

    Urad dal is a split legume, often used as a seasoning as well. All Indian grocers sell it.

    SERVES 4

    • 1¼ lbs. waxy potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut into ½ inch dice
    • ½ teaspoon salt, plus a little extra
    • 5 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
    • Generous pinch of ground asafetida
    • ¼ teaspoon urad dal
    • ¼ teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
    • ¼ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    • Generous pinch of whole fenugreek seeds
    • 15 fresh curry leaves, lightly crushed in your hand
    • 2 fresh, hot green chilies (such as bird’s-eye), sliced into thin half rings
    • 1 medium onion (5–6 oz), peeled and cut in half lengthwise and then into fine half rings
    • ¼ teaspoon sugar
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    1. Put the potatoes in a bowl. Add the ½ teaspoon of salt and mix well, separating the pieces. Set out and/or prepare all the remaining ingredients, as the dish will cook quite fast.

    2. Put the oil into a medium nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the asafetida and, a second later, the urad dal. As soon as the dal starts to color, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, a matter of seconds later, add the fenugreek seeds and, a second later, the curry leaves and green chilies (take care, as the curry leaves will splutter). Stir once or twice and add the onions. As soon as you see a hint of browning in the onions, add a tablespoon of water. Do this three times, cooking the onions for about 7–8 minutes.

    3. Add a dash of salt and the sugar to the pan. Tip in all the potatoes and add about ½ cup of water. Stir and cook on very low heat for 10 minutes, mixing every now and then. Some of the potatoes should melt into the water. Scatter the fresh cilantro over the top.