Recipes: '5 Spices, 50 Dishes' "5 Spices, 50 Dishes is one of this season's cute little surprises," says T. Susan Chang. "The theme is how astonishingly much you can do with just cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric and mustard seeds." See recipes for russet potatoes, black-eyed pea salad.
NPR logo Recipes: '5 Spices, 50 Dishes'

Recipes: '5 Spices, 50 Dishes'

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Get more recommendations from T. Susan Chang.

These recipes appear in 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices by Ruta Kahate, Chronicle Books 2007.

Crusty Russet Potatoes with Coriander


Soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, these potatoes will go very well with your next pot roast or steak. You can also use them to add a subtle Indian touch at breakfast by serving them with buttery scrambled eggs.


4 large russet potatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds), boiled and peeled

6 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 medium green serrano chiles, cut lengthwise in quarters

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons coriander seeds, coarsely crushed

Slice the potatoes lengthwise into quarters. Then cut them crosswise into 1-inch pieces.


Make the tadka: Heat the oil in a large wok over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or spatter screen. After the seeds stop sputtering, add the chiles. When the chiles are well toasted, add the turmeric and stir. Add the potatoes and salt, toss well, cover, and leave on medium-high heat until potatoes are slightly toasted, for 4 minutes.

Uncover and add the coriander seeds and toss well again. Continue to heat uncovered, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are crusty and well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.


Serves 4

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Ginger and Red Onion


This is one of those rare Indian salads that makes a meal in itself. I usually bring a large bowl as my contribution to summer potlucks. If you use canned peas, you can put this salad together in literally a few minutes.


1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas or two 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained

1 cup finely chopped ripe tomatoes (about 2 medium tomatoes)

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1 small onion)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (about 2-inch piece)

1 small green serrano chile, minced (seed it first if you prefer)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, finely ground

1/2 teaspoon cayenne


1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds


If using dried black-eyed peas, soak them for 6 to 8 hours or overnight, refrigerated, with water to cover.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drain the soaked peas and add them to the pot. Cook until they are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Drain and remove to a medium bowl. Cool.

If using canned beans, skip the above steps and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice, ginger, chile, cumin, cayenne, and salt to taste (remember canned beans already have salt in them) to the cooked, cooled beans and toss well. You can increase the amount of lime juice in the recipe if you like.

Make the tadka: Heat the oil in a small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or spatter screen. After all the mustard seeds have finished popping, pour the tadka over the beans and toss well.

Serve cold or at room temperature.


Serves 4 to 6