Gunpowder Potatoes

Here, new potatoes are transformed into a culinary powerhouse with toasted spices, butter, cilantro and green chilies. Gunpowder potatoes are the ideal recipe: a bit of crunch, a touch of herbiness, a dash of tang and a pop of heat, all married to a foundation of creamy potatoes. My mouth waters just thinking about them.

The term “gunpowder” refers to a spice mix that has many variations. This version hails from Parsi cuisine and contains coarsely ground toasted cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with a finishing dusting of a “kabab masala,” which is made with fenugreek, chili powder, chaat masala and garam masala. Kind in mind, like much Indian food, the spices are bold.

Start by parcooking new potatoes with their skins on. Next, either grille or broil, then split them open. The potatoes are mixed with the gunpowder spice mixture, along with butter, spring onions, cilantro and green chilies. Finish them with lime juice, flaky salt and a teaspoon or two of the kabab masala, and serve them with a cooling yogurt raita.

For this adaptation, the ingredient list was pared down while maximizing flavor, and focusing on getting deeply browned, crusty potatoes without a grill. The crushed spices are cooked in butter to bloom their flavor and the parcooked potatoes are flattened before roasting them in a 500°F oven. And, in a nod to kabab masala, fenugreek is included, a touch that adds a distinctive maple-like flavor.

Our potatoes were on the larger size for this recipe (about the size of a lime), so they couldn’t be tossed in a bowl with the butter spice mixture. Instead, the baked potatoes were placed on a platter with the spiced butter poured over the top. Another addition would be to make the Raita as an accompaniment, recipe follows.

Gunpowder Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 1⁄2 lbs. Yukon gold or red potatoes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 jalapeños chillies, stemmed and thinly sliced into thin rings
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3⁄4 tsp. ground fenugreek
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Lime wedges and/or raita (recipe below) to serve


  1. In a large pot, combine the potatoes, 3 tablespoons salt, and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 500°F with a rack in the middle position.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and toss with oil. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup or ramekin, press down on each potato so it flattens slightly and splits open but remains intact.
  4. Roast, without stirring for 20 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with chiles. Continue to roast without stirring until the potatoes are crisp and well-browned, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a spice grinder, combine the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds; pulse until coarsely ground.
  6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the ground seeds and fenugreek, and cook, swirling the pan, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes; set aside off heat.
  7. When the potatoes are done, use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a large bowl. Add the spiced butter, and toss to coat.
  8. Fold in the scallions and cilantro; taste for salt and pepper; serve with lime wedges and/or raita.



  • Servings: makes 1 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 jalapeño chili (stemmed and minced)
  • 1 scallion (thinly sliced)
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper


In a small bowl, stir together whole-milk Greek yogurt, finely chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, water, jalapeño chilis, scallions and kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste.

Recipes from Milk Street


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