Serendipity: Potatoes with Many Seeds

On Sunday I was going to try this Roast Boneless Pork Loin recipe from Fine Cooking that has you roast pork for Sunday. Then, you eat Chinese Pork and Mushroom Wraps on Monday and New Mexican Pork and Green Chile Stew on Tuesday. On Wednesday, if there was any left, I could make Cubanos – a sandwich with sliced roast pork, ham, swiss, pickles and mustard.  I put mine in the sandwich press.  All of those porky things sound very good on their own but then I thought about eating pork for 4 nights straight and all of a sudden it didn’t sound so good anymore. So I kept flipping through Fine Cooking and there in the “Dinner with Friends” section I found an Indian Spiced Chicken recipe with cilantro and limes.  The menu was designed with Friday night in mind, an afterwork affair – very straightforward and easy. I thought if I made enough chicken, I could slice the leftovers and use them in an ersatz kind of Cubano – with chicken replacing the ham. In the menu in Fine Cooking, they served the chicken with basmati rice pilaf and a spinach and yogurt saag. I had a bag of fingerlings though, that had been meant to go with the pork and another of haricot vert. The haricot vert could become Gujerati Style Green Beans from Madhur Jaffrey and the potatoes, well, I thought those might get roasted with the chicken with a bunch of Indian spices and garlic. I figured I would be able to wing it but I steamed the potatoes, just in case, so they would be ready for anything.


  • Indian Spiced Chicken with Lime and Cilantro, Fine Cooking
  • Gujerati-Style Green Beans, see Capitol Hill Indian Food post for recipe
  • Potatoes with Many Seeds – Madhur Jaffrey

Game Plan

  • 45 minutes before you want to eat: Assemble all spices.  Measure out the spices and seeds separately that you will need for the chicken, beans and potatoes.
  • Make chicken marinade.
  • 35 minutes before you want to eat: Steam potatoes and green beans.  If your pot is big enough, you might be able to fit both into one pot, separated on either side of the steamer basket, bearing in mind that the beans will come out after 5-7 minutes and the potatoes after 15-20, depending on how big they are.
  • 30 minutes before you want to eat: Start broiler
  • 25 minutes before you want to eat: Put the chicken in the oven
  • 15 minutes before you want to eat: Start potato recipe and bean recipe. Slice potatoes lengthwise. Ideally you will have 2 large non-stick skillets to cook the beans and potatoes in simultaneously.  It’s a little bit of a duelling skillets moment.  Read the recipes over carefully though; it’s very easy to do them at the same time if you are aware in advance of what you need to accomplish.

Indian spiced chicken with lime and cilantro

for 4 (with leftovers for the next days Cubanos)


  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • the juice from a medium lime
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt – plus more to taste
  • 6 small chicken breast, skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat and skin.
  • lime wedges
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 10 ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth.
  3. Put the puree and the chicken into a large bowl and toss to coat all sides.  Set aside while broiler is heating or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  4. Position oven rack 8 inches from broiler and heat broiler on high. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange chicken, skin side up on top. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt.
  5. Broil until chicken is brown with singed bits at the edges, about 20 minutes. If the chicken seems to be getting too dark, turn off the broiler and set the oven to 450F. Test with instant read thermometer or by cutting into chicken after 20 minutes. The chicken should be 165F when it is done; the juices clear. You may need 5-15 minutes more, depending on the size of the breasts. If it is done before or after the potatoes or the beans, no harm done. Any of these recipes could be served less than piping hot.
  6. Arrange chicken on plates or platter, garnish with cilantro. Serve with a squirt of lime juice.

Potatoes with Many Seeds

If you like making Indian food, it will be worth your while to keep black mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the house. There will be endless uses for them. I came to this recipe at the last minute last night, because I realized I wouldn’t be able to do both the potatoes and the chicken at the same time. I know it’s weird, but I was glad my oven was small and that I only have one. (I dream of having double wall ovens) But if I’d had two ovens, I would never have discovered this amazing recipe! There I was, about to toss the potatoes in the oven and I thought about it; it would never do. The rimmed sheet pan with the chicken was too large. The potatoes wouldn’t brown properly. The timing on the chicken could be compromised! Quickly I flipped through Madhur Jaffrey and came upon a recipe she calls Potatoes with Sesame Seeds. If I hadn’t been desperate – I never would have looked twice at that recipe. It sounds too boring. But I had steamed potatoes already and I knew I had sesame seeds. Again, lucky me. I also had the cumin and black mustard seeds. I am so happy I tried this recipe! These potatoes are encrusted with crunchy, salty, seeds, their warm, toasted scent permeating the whole house.  They’re beautiful, very more-ish and so unusual.  The sesame seeds are the least of their charms. We couldn’t stop eating them.  In fact, I was just now eating them cold, straight from the fridge – and I am a person who almost never eats leftovers (I know that’s weird for a cook). I highly recommend eating them this way. They were almost as satisfying right out of the refrigerator as they were hot.  I had to change the name. Potatoes with Many Seeds – not very inspired perhaps, but hopefully somewhat intriguing.

  • 2 lbs fingerling potatoes, steamed and sliced lengthwise
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp chile flakes
  • 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Put the potatoes and the seeds right next to the pan, ready to go.
  3. Add the oil and when it is very hot, add the seeds. They will pop almost immediately and start to jump right out of the pan like crazy. Rather messy but so worth it.
  4. Quickly add the potatoes and fry for 5 minutes – they will start to become golden and crisp.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes and salt and fry for another 5 minutes until browned on the outside.
  6. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice and serve.

We liked this menu so much. The chicken was crisp, the spices warmly fragrant and the final squirt of lime juice, piquant. Then the potatoes…the potatoes…the potatoes. Delicious.  I would serve them on a platter as an hors d’oeuvre with a champagne cocktail; although that might be kind of odd – it would certainly be satisfying.  I got the same desire for them as I get for potato chips or caramelized onions. The saltiness, the nuttiness of the seeds, the crisp crunchiness.  The green beans as always, were a hit. This menu might be a little salty if you are a person who is sensitive to salt.  But we loved it.  This one is a winner at my house.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when the leftover chicken will reappear in Cubanos with mojo…you may want to soak a pound of dried black beans in preparation.

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