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Potato talk: From health benefits to recipes!

Last updated on: January 8, 2013 10:59 IST

Potato talk: From health benefits to recipes!

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Kanchan Maslekar

Here's all you need to know about this humble tuber that is a staple and integral part of our diet.

Aloo ki sabzi, aloo ke parathe, mashed potato, baked potato, potato chips -- the potato is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Regardless of age, it seems to be everyone's favourite.

And if consumed with the skin, it is a most nutritious vegetable, contrary to the belief that if you are health and diet-conscious, you should keep away from it.

History of potatoes

It is believed that potatoes originated in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. Spanish soldiers became interested in the vegetable during their conquests, so much so that they sailed home with them. The vegetable eventually became a standard on Spanish ships after they discovered that eating potatoes prevented scurvy.

Important!

It is important when preparing potatoes to leave the skin intact. The potato's skin contains all manner of vitamins and nutrients. Boiling potatoes in water will cause them to lose vital nutrients. If boiling is necessary when preparing potatoes, it is essential to keep the water, reusing it for soups or adding it to the dough, to preserve the vitamins.

Health experts say potato skins contain an anti-carcinogenic compound called chlorogenic acid. This particular acid helps the fibre in potatoes absorb carcinogens that are found in grilled foods. So eating potatoes with grilled foods is common and important when preserving health and fighting off cancer-causing substances.


Photographs: Courtesy Gud2Eat.com

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Nutritional value

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Potatoes contain carbohydrates that provide a short and instant energy boost. They are a filling food and help to keep a check on binge-eating, which we frequently indulge in.

Experts believe that being a rich source of carbohydrates, potatoes help fuel all actions in the body that are required for movement, thinking, digestion and cellular renewal.

The Vitamin B present in potatoes is useful to protect arteries. Vitamin B6 is capable of reducing the levels of a molecule called homocysteine, which is involved in inflaming the arteries. B6 is also required by our bodies for cellular renewal, maintaining a healthy nervous system and a balanced mood.

Since potatoes largely contain carbohydrates, they are easy to digest and facilitate digestion. This makes them beneficial to invalids, babies and to those who cannot digest hard foods, but require energy. Potatoes also have fibre or roughage (present more in raw or cold preparations as compared to boiled or hot potatoes).


Photographs: Courtesy Gud2Eat.com
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Skincare

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The nutrients found in potatoes like B-complex, magnesium, and potassium are all very beneficial for our skin.

A very effective pack for the body and face can be easily made at home by mixing the pulp obtained from crushed or grated raw potatoes and honey.


Photographs: Courtesy Gud2Eat.com
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A versatile ingredient

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Potatoes can be prepared a number of different ways and are extremely versatile and fun to try in new recipes. They are easy on the taste buds and enjoyed by most people, whether in Indian dishes or Continental. Even the sabzis made across India liberally use potatoes

Here are some traditional popular recipes using potatoes:

Aloo Gobi or Aloo Mattar (you can either add gobi or mattar or both)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups boiled unpeeled potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower cut into big florets and/or peas
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 dry chillies
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger and garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped green chillies
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes or 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander (dhaniya)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the dry red chillies, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
  • Add the cauliflower and salt. Mix well and cook for a few minutes till the cauliflower florets get a slight brown colour.
  • Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala, asafoetida and one cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes till the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the potatoes, lemon juice and coriander. Mix well and cook till all the water dries up.

Photographs: http://flickr.com/photos/pgoyette/339987980/
Tags: India

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Aloo Ke Parathe

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Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ghee

For the stuffing

  • 4 boiled unpeeled potatoes
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 4 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 tsp dried mango powder (amchur) or chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • Cheese (optional: add to the stuffing to make it tasty and filling for the kids)

Method

For the dough

  • Sieve the flour with the salt. Add the ghee and mix well.
  • Add enough water and make soft dough. Keep aside.


For the stuffing:

  • Mash the potatoes coarsely or cut into very small pieces. Keep aside.
  • Heat the ghee in a vessel, add the cumin seeds and onion; and fry for at least three minutes. Add the green chillies and fry again for one minute.
  • Add the potatoes, salt, coriander, chilli powder and mango powder. Mix well and cook. Keep aside.
  • Knead the dough and divide into 10 portions. Roll out one portion of the dough into a circle and place one portion of the prepared filling in the centre of the dough circle. Bring together all the sides in the centre and seal tightly. Roll out again into a circle with the help of a little flour.
  • Cook the paratha on a tava using a little ghee until both sides are golden brown. Serve hot.

Photographs: Simon Law (sfllaw) from Montreal, QC, Canada on Flickr/Wikimedia Commons
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