Baby potatoes are the potatoes which are removed from the soil before they are fully developed/ grown. Due to this, you will find that baby potatoes have a sweeter flavour. It usually has a pale brown thin outer skin with a creamy off white interior. They are used worldwide in a variety of dishes ranging from salads, vegetable accompaniments to even main courses. In India, baby potatoes are used to make a very popular dish called "Dum Aloo".
Baby potatoes can be cooked using various culinary methods, namely- steamed, broiled, grilled, roasted, stir fried, baked etc. But a very good method to ensure that baby potatoes absorb the flavours of the additional seasonings, prick the potatoes all over with a fork and then cook.
Boiled and peeled baby potatoes
As the name suggests, baby potatoes are boiled in water by pressure cooking or open cooking and then cooled slightly and peeled. These can be used in variety of dishes like dum aloo…being most common, salads, snacks etc. Boiled and peeled baby potatoes can also be cut into halves or pieces as per the recipe requirement.
Boiled baby potatoes
To boil baby potatoes, you can either place them in boiling water and cover and cook till they turn soft. Alternatively, you can also pressure cook them by placing them in a sieve and then placing on a stand in pressure cooker and cook for 2-3 whistles or till they are cooked well. These baby potatoes can be used peeled and unpeeled as well. To peel them, first keep them aside to cool and peel the skin off. Boiled and peeled baby potatoes can be used in variety of recipes like aloo chaat, dum aloo etc. Unpeeled boiled baby potatoes are also used to make variety of subzis or they can be pricked all over, deep fried and added to chaats, gravies etc.
Parboiled baby potato halves
Baby potatoes can be parboiled by putting washed and cleaned baby potatoes in salted boiling water and boil till the potatoes are 80% cooked and cool slightly. Peel the potatoes if required, cut into halves horizontally and use as required. Parboiled baby potatoes can be used in variety of recipes in grated, chopped or sliced forms, depending on the recipe.
How to select
Ensure that the baby potatoes are firm and free from dirt, grime or any blemishes. Check that the skin is smooth and doesn't have mild green patches (which are an indication of solanine- a pigment which is toxic and should be discarded before cooking).
· Baby potatoes go very well in chilled salads. Boil and peel the baby potatoes and combine with a dressing of your choice. Dressings made with a lemon base or mayonnaise base goes very well with baby potatoes.
· Toss boiled potatoes in butter, garlic and aromatic herbs to make a quick stir fry which will go very well as a starch accompaniment to main courses. The aromatic herbs that will go well are rosemary, thyme etc.
· Marinate baby potatoes with spicy tandoori marinade or nice makhmali (cream and cheese marinade) to make delicious tandoori starters. They are best served with mint chutney, onions, lemon wedges and laccha parathas (Indian bread).
· For Chinese starters, serve marinated and fried baby potatoes with Sichuan sauce. Other Chinese recipes can be baby corn, mushrooms and baby potatoes roasted with ginger, garlic, soya sauce, white pepper and Sichuan salt.
· Dum Aloo is baby potatoes deep fried in oil and then cooked in a semi spicy and creamy tomato based gravy. It is best cooked on "Dum"- the final cooking should be done on steam for a longer time so that the potatoes absorb the flavours.
· Baby potatoes can be sautéed with balsamic vinegar and seasonings to give a unique- yet rich flavour.
· Use halved baby potatoes in au gratins, pasta etc as an added vegetable.
How to store
Always store baby potatoes in a cool and dry place away from sunlight and moisture. You may also place in zip lock bags and store under refrigerated conditions. Cooked baby potatoes should be wrapped in glass bowls with cling film and then store in the refrigerator. Use cooked baby potatoes within 2 to 3 days of refrigeration.
· Baby potatoes are less in calories and naturally fat free. Thus, they can be part of low cal diets.
· When used with skin on, they are a good source of fibre. Fiber is essential to maintain body weight and is good for digestion. It also helps reduce existing cholesterol levels.
· They are a moderate source of vitamins, namely folate, Vitamin C, B1 and B6. These vitamins help in normal functioning of the nervous system and the heart, promotes healthy maintenance of bones, gums, teeth, and helps body resist infection and stress.
· They are also a good source of minerals like iron and potassium which are required for healthy functioning of all cells, nerves and body fluids of the body.
· It does not contain any cholesterol which helps reduce risk of heart disease.