Potato Masala/Potato Thokku – Traditional side dish

potato thokku,potato masala,urulaikizhangu thokkuThis potato thokku is a hot, spicy, pucca tamil (south-indian) masala curry that goes splendidly well with rice and sambar or rice and rasam. It is a thokku, meaning it is that wonderful glossy, concentrated, flavour bursting semi-gravy state that tastes so good with rice. This potato masala is terrific for a traditional banana leaf saapadu. But this is an easy dish to prepare, needs no great technique or expertise. You could add in green peas along with the potatoes to make a potato-peas masala.

Did I tell you about my family’s sambar and potato thokku formula? I must have. It is our staple menu for special days, festivals and many other ordinary days in between. Like Senthil-Goundamani and Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, Sambar and potato thokku are inseparable. Sambar means potato thokku, potato thokku means Sambar, anything else and it would be a God-mistake (Deiva-kutham).

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins:
Serves: 4


Potatoes – 1/4 kilo boiled and cubed
Onion – 1 large chopped fine
Tomato – 1 large chopped fine
Ginger – 1 inch piece peeled
Garlic – 6 cloves with peel
Green chillies – 1-2
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 stem
Coriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnishing
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
Salt to taste


1.      Boil potatoes in a pressure cooker till tender yet firm. Let cool, peel and cube them. Set aside.

2.      Grind ginger, un-peeled garlic and green chillies with a little water to a nearly smooth paste. Set aside.

3.      In a kadai/skillet heat 2tbsp oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and when they crackle add curry leaves. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté till translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes.

4.      Add the ground ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix well.

5.      Add one cup water and mix well. Add salt, taste and adjust seasoning. When the water comes to a boil, tip in the cubed potatoes. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes till the potato and masala are well mixed and the potato masala has reduced to a thokku (thick gravy) consistency.

6.      Uncover and drizzle a tsp of oil along the edges of the kadai/skillet. Mix well and cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes till the oil separates and the potatoes have coloured. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice.
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