South Indian Potato Varuval – Whip it UP!



Potato varuval is an appetising, vegan dish with a generous punch of fragrant spices. It’s popular in Chettinad, South India which is known for aromatic dishes. Potato, with its mild flavour, is the perfect canvas for spices to shine in this dry curry. Balance is key when selecting the spice mix that will release alluring aromas when tempered in oil. Pair it with Asparagus and Mushrooms Stirfry and then tuck into Coconut-filled Crepes for dessert.

Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: 1/5
Cost: S$2.50
Servings: 4


A: Potatoes

3 large potatoes, steamed until ¾ done and cubed

B: Spices For Tempering

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dhal
1 stalk curry leaves, rinsed & stalk removed
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1½ tablespoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anises
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods, husk removed and seeds crushed
1 bay leaf

dryspices-2_march2019-wk4C: Seasoning

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 tablespoons water

D: Garnish

1 stalk cilantro, leaves only



1Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add mustard seeds and let them pop.

2. Next, put in urad dhal followed by curry leaves.


Once urad dhal turns brown, add remaining spices followed by seasoning. Cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds.


3. Add onion and sauté until soft.


Put in potatoes. Add water if it’s too dry. Cook for 10 minutes until potato is well coated with spices.


4. Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately with steamed rice or Indian bread e.g. naan or chappati.

potato-aruval_rice3_march-2019-wk4PHOTOS: Pari Malar Thoraisingam


NOTE: Tempering or tadka is an Indian cooking technique that is used in and around the Sub-continent, where dry spices are heated in hot oil or ghee to extract the essence from every single spice. The medley of warm earthy aromas from spices ramps up flavour in any dish. Tempering in Indian cooking is either done at the start or the end of cooking to pack flavours into a dish.

TECHNIQUE: Steaming potato till partially cooked speeds up stir-frying, allowing this dish to be served up within minutes.


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