Is it panch poran or panch phoron? My spice jar says the former, but most of the results in Google say the latter. Oh well. Panch poran/phoron is a blend of 5 seeds – namely cumin, black mustard, fenugreek, nigella and fennel seeds in equal parts – that is used in dishes from Bangladesh and parts of India. I stumbled upon a jar of this fragrant spice mix while I was browsing the Silk Road Spice Merchant in Calgary some time ago. I smelled a whole lot of spices that day, but after I opened the jar of panch poran I knew I needed to bring it home with me.
A lot of the recipes I’ve found say you’re supposed to leave the seeds whole, but I prefer them ground in most cases, and I’ve reflected that fact in the recipe below. After trying it both ways, I find the spice sticks to the ingredients better when the seeds are ground; once I made roasted potatoes and left the seeds whole, and I had to take a bite of potato and manually sprinkle the seeds on top of each bite. I’m probably just doing it wrong, but I’ve indicated my preference and I will leave the choice up to you, reader!
I love adding peas to my roasted potatoes. I hated peas growing up – one of a long list of foods I once hated, and now love – but they are the perfect balance to the hearty, starchy potatoes in this recipe. They add a burst of sweetness, and the addition of anything green makes any dish seem instantly healthier to me. To my unsophisticated Western/Canadian palette, this combination of flavors tastes something like the filling of vegetarian samosas, which are one of my favorite things to order when I go for Indian food.
The potatoes come out crispy and golden brown, and the smell of the spices roasting will make your house smell amazing. I like to add the peas halfway into the cooking time, because then they retain a little bit of their sweetness and pop and they don’t get too dried out. The finished dish is fantastic with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, and some fresh cilantro (or coriander). I’m thinking it would also be tasty with some mango chutney as well, if that’s your thing.
On a different note, I’m posting this at a weird time of day (my lunch break, to be precise!) because right after work today I am heading into the mountains to go camping with my husband & our dog. It will definitely be nice to unwind and unplug for a few days. I’m bringing a couple of camping recipes and my camera, so check back next week to see if I’ve come up with anything good enough to share (fingers crossed)!
- 4 cups potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 cup peas (frozen is fine, but thaw them first)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon panch poran/phoron (or other Indian spice mix if you can't find the real deal)
- Cilantro, sour cream/plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the panch poran until mostly ground but still a bit "chunky." Toss together potatoes, olive oil and ground panch poran and transfer to a large, heavy baking sheet, spreading into an even layer.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then add peas to the pan and toss everything together. Re-spread into an even layer and return to oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are golden brown and cooked through. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers; they're delicious either cold or reheated.