It’s helpful once in a while to have another way to prepare potatoes. Potatoes are a pretty versatile ingredient, and we can always boil, mash, bake, fry, scallop, gratinee, and roast. And probably some other things I haven’t thought of plus using them with other ingredients to make stews, soups, and salads.
I observed this way of cooking them when I visited in Cyprus about a million years ago. I went there with a group of friends interested in the history of Mediterranean cooking and we toured around the island, mostly eating and drinking, and seeing museums and archaeological sites. At one stop, we were served small potatoes smashed and seasoned with coriander. A very mild seasoning, coriander is the seed that produces cilantro leaves. These potatoes are pleasant fare, not too assertive, and easy going enough to serve with almost anything else; consider it another string to your bow to vary potato cookery in your house without straining yourself.
The potatoes end up being partly steamed and partly fried. You can do it quickly on the stove top, and it helps to start with pretty small ones. Since I grow my own potatoes I always have every size imaginable. A slightly waxy potato is better than a floury sort; small reds would work very nicely, as would little Yukon Golds. My favorite all purpose potato is Carola and it is those I used for this recipe.
I usually crack mine by tapping them firmly but not heavily with my rolling pin. I crush the coriander in a mortar and pestle, but you can use ground coriander, too. A mere smear of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and you are all set to go.
Cracked Coriander Potatoes
2-3 small potatoes per person
A tablespoon of whole, crushed coriander seeds or 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, to taste
Salt and pepper
Prepare the potatoes by tapping them with the side of a rolling pin until they crack, but do not break into pieces. Heat a heavy pan over a medium heat, dribble a bit of olive oil on it, sprinkle in the seeds, and put the potatoes in it, in a single layer. Put a lid on the pan. Check after fifteen minutes, and turn the potatoes over. They will get a golden crust on the sides, and become tender. Thirty minutes should be sufficient. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Makes as many servings as potatoes.