Not latkes, but full of flavor--these mashed-potato cakes are seasoned with cilantro, ginger, scallions and garlic. Mustard seeds add crunch. Add enough flour to bind, and fry until crispy. Use left-over mashed or baked potatoes. You will be rewarded at first bite. The first batch is a little tricky to flip, but subsequent batches will brown beautifully.
small fresh hot red or green peppers, seeded, the ribs removed, minced
scallions, minced (the white part and some of the green)
steamed fresh or frozen peas
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
large russet potatoes, 11-14 oz. raw weight, baked and cooled (preferably day-old). You can also use left-over mashed potatoes
cooked quinoa, drained very well and cooled
1 1/2 cups
plain Greek or Bulgarian yogurt
large eggs, lightly beaten
all-purpose flour, or more or less, as needed to bind batter
salt, or to taste
safflower oil for frying
Plain yogurt and chipotle salsa or harissa thinned with lemon juice or other hot sauce as accompaniments
lime wedges as an accompaniment
In This Recipe
In a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, heat 2-3 tablespoons oil over a medium flame. Add mustard seeds and, when they begin to sizzle and pop, add garlic and ginger, shallot and red pepper. Adjust heat to medium-low, and saute until softened and fragrant; shallot should be just transparent and pepper brightly colored. Add scallion and the pinch of salt, saute until fragrant. Add peas, stir for just a few seconds until peas are warmed through, then remove from heat and add cilantro. Scrape mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool a little. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel.
Scoop flesh from baked potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher. Reserve the shell of the potato for another use (or brush with oil, season with salt, dried herbs, garlic powder, and hot red or regular ground black pepper and toast in the oven until crisp as a snack for the chef). Add quinoa--it must be very well drained or the pankcakes will fall-apart--yogurt and pea mixture to potatoes and fold in. Add salt and taste for seasoning, adding more salt as needed. Add eggs to potatoes and fold in. Add flour by tablespoons. Flour should bind the ingredients, so add more if needed; squeeze a small fistful until it sticks together to check. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in same skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking (toss in a tiny bit of potato mixture--it should sizzle). Fry in batches (do not crowd pan) forming mounds of about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter. Flatten gently and gracefully with back of spoon as if putting the dimples in cake frosting--the batter wants to stick. Saute until well-browned and crisp on edges, adjusting flame as needed--oil should bubble and sizzle actively at edges. Ease pancake turner under potato cake: if batter smooshes together, it is too soon and cakes will fall apart. Wait a minute or two until firm enough to flip, then turn in one fell swoop to brown second side (cakes will release when they are browned enough for flipping--I promise). Drain well on paper towels. Add oil to skillet as required between batches.
Serve hot either plain with a lime wedge or with salsa, harissa or other favorite hot sauce, and plain yogurt as accompaniments.