A good friend is expecting her first baby in early April, so tonight a bunch of her girlfriends are getting together to celebrate and talk babies. And of course, with the guest of honour being unable to drink, the focus will be all on the food!
These kind of get-togethers are usually a bit of a hodge-podge of dishes. So very sensibly the host sent out a suggested list of things for people to sign up to bring, in the hope of avoiding the usual mismatched banquet of pasta dishes, cake and mixed nuts.
I got in early to nab the potato salad option. I am not a fan of the usual potato salad. Potatoes swimming in a sea of greasy, oniony mayonnaise does nothing for me at all. But I recently came across a recipe for Nepali potatoes which is an interesting take on the potato salad idea, and absolutely delicious. It is also incredibly quick and easy to make, which makes it a keeper in my eyes!
The only ingredient which might be difficult to get your hands on – depending on where you live – is Szechuan pepper. It is a key Nepali cookery ingredient and well worth making the effort to track down, as the taste is quite unique and really makes the dish. It has mild anaesthetic qualities which set your lips tingling if used in large quantities (an unexpected surprise the first time I ate Nepali chutney with it in!). It also has a zesty spiciness to it, although not the heat that spices like pepper and chilli have. The smell is quite incredibly fresh, zingy and citrusy – something you would expect more from a fruit than a spice.
How to make Nepali potato salad.
Take a large bag (about 1kg) of new potatoes and slice into halves. Put in a pan of water along with a teaspoon of salt, two cloves of garlic, a thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and halved, and one bay leaf. Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat, simmering the potatoes until done (about 15 minutes).
In the meanwhile make the dressing. Take four fresh green chillies (tops removed, but with seeds left in), two fat cloves of garlic, one teaspoon of salt and a pinch of ground Szechwan pepper. Put them all in a pestle and mortar and pound into a smooth paste (or blend them with a hand blender, which is much quicker, if less authentic!)
Once the potatoes are cooked, either serve with the chilli blend as a dipping sauce, or mix it with a teaspoon of melted butter or olive oil, pour over the potatoes and toss to create a dressed potato salad.
And that is it! Super easy, super tasty. It is making my mouth water just writing about it!