Why It Works
- Large chunks of potato maximize the contrast between exterior and interior.
- Parboiling the potatoes in alkaline water breaks down their surfaces, creating tons of starchy slurry for added surface area and crunch.
This is a riff on Kenji's excellent recipe for roasted potatoes, with a few flavor accents that I think go very well with my curry leaf and mustard oil mayonnaise, which I developed for my book, The Flavor Equation (my mayonnaise recipe works with either extra-virgin olive oil or mustard oil that have been debittered using my hot-water technique, but I recommend using mustard oil here). For the potatoes, instead of using a flavored oil as Kenji does in his recipe, I opt for extra-virgin olive oil and toss the cooked potatoes with a savory and fragrant mix of garlic and onion powders, ground sumac, and a little chile powder for a small, spicy kick.
Editors' Note: Nik Sharma's new book, The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained in More Than 100 Essential Recipes, comes out in October 2020. You can pre-order it anywhere books are sold.
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (4g) baking soda
- 4 pounds (about 2kg) russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, sixths, or eighths, depending on size (see note)
- 5 tablespoons (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac
- 1 teaspoon red chile powder
- Curry Leaf and Mustard Oil Mayonnaise, for serving
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F/230°C (or 400°F/200°C if using convection). Heat 2 quarts (2L) water in a large pot over high heat until boiling. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt (about 1 ounce; 25g), baking soda, and potatoes and stir. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until a knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk, about 10 minutes after returning to a boil.
When potatoes are cooked, drain carefully and let them rest in the pot for about 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer to large mixing bowl, add olive oil, season to taste with a little more salt and pepper, and toss to coat, shaking bowl roughly, until a thick layer of mashed potato–like paste has built up on the potato chunks.
Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them, spreading them out evenly. Transfer to oven and roast, without moving, for 20 minutes. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula to release any stuck potatoes, shake pan and turn potatoes. Continue roasting until potatoes are deep brown and crisp all over, turning and shaking them a few times during cooking, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add onion powder, garlic powder, ground sumac, and red chile powder. Toss to coat and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with ramekin of curry leaf and mustard mayonnaise for dipping alongside.
Rimmed baking sheet, fine-mesh strainer
Russet potatoes will produce crisper crusts and fluffier centers. Yukon Golds will be slightly less crisp and have creamier centers, with a darker color and deeper flavor. You can also use a mix of the two.
The potatoes should be cut into very large chunks, at least 2 to 3 inches or so. For medium-sized Yukon Golds, this means cutting them in half crosswise, then splitting each half again to make quarters. For larger Yukon Golds or russets, you can cut the potatoes into chunky sixths or eighths.