My understanding is, (I mean I read it in a book) that it was the
somewhat evil Portuguese empire that introduced the potato to
the west coast of India in the 17th century. But then it was the
far more thoroughly evil British empire that introduced it to the
rest of India in the 18thcentury, hoping to replace rice in the
The results seem in fact not to have been all that evil. India now produces about 50 million tonnes of potatoes a year, second only to China in world production. But India still also produces about 90 million tonnes of rice. You might think that amounted to a balanced diet.
And it has occurred to me that much of the Indian food I like best involves potato in some form: potato samosa, vada pav, Bombay aloo, sag aloo, aloo chat, and so on.
At the weekend, being in Bristol, and finding the truck from Gopal’s Curry Shack to be close at hand, I had the masala dosa, described on the chalk board as ‘a rice and lentil crepe with a spiced potato filling. Served with coconut chutney and coconut dal.’ It was great.
I suppose a crepe is similar to, but significantly different from a paratha, and it’s certainly similar to a pancake.
In fact most Sundays as I was growing up, my mum served up pancakes with the roast. It was the same stuff you’d use for Yorkshire pudding, but fried in a pan rather than baked in the oven, because my dad preferred them that way. There were also mashed potatoes on the plate (rarely roasties) so inevitably you sometimes found yourself eating pancake and potato together. However this being my mum’s cooking there would never be any spices other than salt and pepper, but that only whetted my appetite for things to come.
As soon as I had any independence I’d go up to the chip shop and have chips with curry sauce. Fusion, n’est ce pas?