potatoes, garlic and coriander
A simple combination of potatoes, garlic and coriander gently fried in Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil is a popular Lebanese way of serving fried potatoes. It’s also ideal for using up coriander past its best, with some potatoes which have begun to sprout in the bottom of the potato bag. A Lebanese marriage of 3 ingredients – garlic, coriander and extra virgin olive oil – transforming a potato into a dish which tastes as good as it looks.
While many people are averse to frying things in extra virgin olive oil, Professor Tim Spector points out that it only adds to the health properties of a dish. Compared to olive oil, there are double the amount of polyphenols (which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) in extra virgin olive oil. Interestingly, in his book Food for Life, he lists the stability of oils when heated at high temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil contains the highest amount of antioxidants and he recommends it for “cooking, baking and frying, even at high temperatures“.
The fried potatoes can be made ahead of time, so that just before eating, you can gently fry the garlic and coriander in a large saucepan. The key is not to burn the garlic. The oil should be hot, but not smoking. When you smell the fragrance of the garlic cooking in the oil, long before it’s brown, that’s the moment to add the chopped coriander, leaves and stalks. Moving things around the pan will ensure nothing sticks or burns. If you feel it needs more oil to keep it loose, add another tablespoon. Then add the fried potatoes on a low heat and toss well removing from the heat while the coriander is still a vibrant green colour.
serves 4 as a side dish
2 large potatoes, (500g) scrubbed, diced into approx 2cm and rinsed
4 garlic cloves, crushed with half a tsp of salt
a bunch of coriander (25g), leaves and stalks chopped finely
90ml Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil
1. Parboil the diced potatoes for 5 minutes in gently simmering salted water, or steam. Drain in a colander and put to one side to let the steam disperse before frying.
2. Crush the garlic cloves with 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a pestle and mortar (or use a knife with some salt on a board).
3. Pick over the bunch of coriander taking out any yellow leaves, and slice the leaves and stalks finely.
4. In a frying pan, warm 3 tablespoons (75ml) of the extra virgin olive oil on a low heat, and add the cooked potatoes. Leave to colour for about 5 minutes before turning them. Once golden and ready to eat, remove from the pan and put in a dish. To keep the crispness of the potatoes, don’t cover.
5. In the same frying pan, with the heat low, add the rest of the oil, then the crushed garlic, stirring quickly for 1 minute until it begins to smell fragrant. Add the coriander and move the mixture around to mix both ingredients together. You don’t want to burn the garlic or the coriander, so remove from the heat if you feel it’s too hot. Then return the fried potatoes to the pan and mix so that the potatoes are well covered. Remove from the heat to stop the coriander cooking. Taste, and some salt if required. Alternatively a scattering of Zejd’s sumac is a nice touch here.