Cumin Potatoes with curry leaf

When I was a child, I remember having warm Cumin tea with heavy festive meals; especially with Biryanis and meat dishes. It was always on the dining table, and I was always puzzled by why my grandma insisted we drink this with our food, instead of some nice ice cold water. It felt so nice to have a glass of chilled water, especially on a hot day! I have to admit that in those days, I wasn’t very keen on cumin tea at all (Jeeraka vellam, as we call it in Kerala). 

Only recently did I realise the reason behind it, and the wonderful health properties of these tiny spiky seeds. Cumin is a spice, which can stimulate the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas, that helps digestion and aids to absorb nutrients into our system. That explains why we always drank cumin tea, (Jeeraka vellam,) with rich food..… No more questioning old wisdom!


When we had colds and coughs, tea was made with ginger and cumin. Again, it was not very tasty at all for a child. If the cough and cold was persistent and stubborn, my grandma made a coarse powder with roasted cumin, dry ginger, a little bit of black pepper and rock sugar… mmmm!!! I used to hate it, but the cough always went away quickly. Cumin is also said to help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to its antiseptic properties.

These days, modern science is trying to find different health boosting qualities behind spices. Recent studies have revealed that cumin seeds might also have anti-carcinogenic properties. In laboratory tests it has shown to reduce the risk of stomach and liver tumors in animals. It has also been shown to boost the liver’s ability to detoxify the human body – no wonder our grandmothers used it liberally in Indian cooking, from curries to vegetable dishes!

Cumin potato is a dish where cumin takes the centre stage, together with potatoes.

Cumin seeds are slowly fried in a splash of oil until they pop open and release the most tantalising aromas in the curry world. Potato wedges are added to the aromatic cumin seeds with the addition of curry leaves, salt, a small dried chilli, and turmeric powder. You can use boiled potatoes if you wish, but I prefer to make mine with raw wedges and then cook them until they are tender, and the flavours have infused into them.

The whole process of frying and cooking perfumes the whole kitchen with the nutty aroma of cumin. The dish tastes delicious served warm or cold – when they are left over, I like to have them  as a cold snack on its own… Simple and delightful with a nice Indian twist on the humble potatoes.


Cumin Potatoes with curry leaf

  • Oil-1 tablespoon
  • Cumin seeds-1 teaspoon
  • Potato (cut into wedges)-2 cups
  • Curry leaves- a few
  • Dry Chilli – 1
  • Turmeric powder-1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt


  • Fry cumin seeds in oil until they are fragrant and start to turn brown.
  • Add the potato wedges, curry leaves, dry  chilli, turmeric powder and salt.
  • Mix well and cook covered until the potatoes are tender and the spices are coated all over.DSC_0621