Bombay potatoes are a quick Indian spiced potatoes recipe (dry curry) made with potatoes, turmeric, cumin, and red chili powder. They are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and come together in thirty minutes. They're vegan, gluten-free and a great go-to side dish!
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🥔 Origin Story
Bombay potatoes get their name from the British. Indians were introduced to potatoes by the British Raj (to replace indigenous vegetables with "superior" plants). At home, we just call them 'aloo subzi' (aloo means potatoes and subzi refers to a sauté of vegetables). "Jeera aloo" means cumin-spiced potatoes.
This spicy Indian potato dish uses parboiled potatoes, which are tossed in warm Indian spices (e.g., turmeric, red chili powder, mustard and cumin) and pan fried for a crispy texture. They're crispy outside, soft and fluffy inside and served as a dry curry with a flatbread like naan or roti or with rice.
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Perfect, crispy potatoes: Foolproof recipe to get super crispy potatoes on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside (just like my crispy garlic air fryer smashed potatoes)!
- Quick and easy to make: This dish uses simple ingredients and comes together in 30 minutes so it's the perfect side dish for a quick meal!
- Make-ahead friendly: The dish stays fresh in the fridge for up to a week!
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need potatoes, turmeric, red chili powder, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, vegetable oil, and a dash of chickpea flour for this recipe. I like to garnish with fresh cilantro, but this is optional.
Tips, variations and substitutes
- Use Yukon Gold potatoes (equivalent Maris Piper or "baking potatoes" in the UK). These are golden yellow potatoes that are not too waxy, but also hold their shape quite well when cooked. You can also use baby potatoes, fingerlings or red potatoes in this recipe. This is also a great way to use up old potatoes before they go bad!
- Substitute for black mustard seeds. This is a core ingredient in most Indian spice boxes, but you can substitute this with half a teaspoon of whole grain mustard. However, the latter is more concentrated so make sure to start with a little dash, then taste and adjust as needed.
- Don't hesitate to play with the spices. I use basic spices (turmeric, red chili powder and cumin) in this recipe, but you can totally mix it up. If you don't have cumin seeds, you can use a dash of cumin powder. You can add curry powder, garam masala, fresh ginger, garlic or other warm Indian spices.
- Adjust to your spice tolerance. I use Kashmiri chili powder, which is what we most commonly use in Indian cooking. But you're welcome to substitute this with a less potent chili powder (e.g., paprika or cayenne) or leave out. If you want to amplify the spiciness, you can add fresh green chili peppers too.
👩🏽🍳 Make Bombay potatoes from scratch!
Parboil / pre-cook the potatoes
Add quartered potatoes to a pot of water along with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, and parboil the potatoes until fork tender.
This typically takes around 10 to 12 minutes from when the water is at a rolling boil, depending on the age, type, and size. Peel the potatoes and set aside after draining.
Pro Tip: Don't boil it like you might for mashed potatoes! The goal is to get the insides cooked enough that once you fry them, they won't overcook and disintegrate.
Get the spice mixture ready
I typically mix turmeric, red chili powder, and chickpea flour to create a spice mix. Toss the cooked potatoes in this spice mix. Add some water to help bind the spices to the boiled potatoes (approximately 1 teaspoon water to 1 tablespoon chickpea flour ratio).
Pan fry the potatoes with spices
Heat some vegetable oil (don't use olive oil here, it'll burn) in a skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is hot (it'll appear to glisten) add black mustard seeds. Once they start to sputter, add cumin seeds. If you are using cumin powder, hold off on this step.
Once the cumin seeds are toasted, shake the potatoes to get excess slurry off of them. Then, toss them into the skillet for pan frying. Add cumin powder at this stage if you're using them instead of seeds.
Give them a good stir to get the spices nicely dispersed. Then, cook untouched for about 3 to 4 minutes to create delicious spicy potatoes.
The chickpea flour helps crisp up the potatoes and helps the spices adhere to the potatoes better (this is a trick that my mom has used for ages!)
Give it one more stir, and let it cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. When the potatoes start turning golden brown on the outside, you're good to turn off the heat. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro and some raita for a delicious side!
👩🏽🍳 Top Tips for Crispy Bombay Potatoes!
- Boiling time for potatoes will depend on the type of potato as well as the size of the potato. Baby potatoes take about 10 minutes while quartered Yukon Gold potatoes will take about 14 minutes (from when the water starts boiling).
- Don't overcook the potatoes. The key here is to get them just fork-tender so they're cooked on the inside. Overcooking will cause them to disintegrate when you pan fry them. They'll still taste delicious, but might become a bit of a mash.
- Dredge parboiled potatoes with chickpea flour and spices before pan frying them. Very lightly! The chickpea flour helps make the potatoes ultra crispy when you fry them, and they take on the flavors of the spices rather well.
- Crispiness depends on several factors, including but not limited to the type of potato (use Yukon Gold or baby potatoes), the size of the potato chunks (quarter them into even chunks), and the size and heat conduction of the skillet. I use a non-stick skillet (this ridiculously non-stick Caraway fry pan) or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet to make this recipe. It's never let me down!
- Adjust spiciness to your preferred level. I use Kashmiri red chili powder in this recipe, so a little goes a long way. You can substitute this with paprika, cayenne or reduce the quantity to meet your spice tolerance.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
Yes! Instead of parboiling the potatoes, you can peel, quarter, and pre-cook the potatoes in an air fryer at 380F for 15 minutes. Then, toss the potatoes in the spice mix and return to the air fryer at 380F for about 20 minutes. Shake the basket or turn the potatoes halfway through and make sure to cook until golden brown!
You can store these spiced Indian potatoes in the fridge for a day or two. To reheat, you can add them back to a skillet with a tablespoon of water to help warm them throughout.
Waxy and flour potatoes work best for Indian cooking. All purpose potatoes like Yukon Gold or Maris Piper can also work quite well!
Super easy! Parboil the potatoes, dredge in the spice mix following the recipe. Spread them out evenly on a baking sheet and bake them at 380F for 30 to 45 minutes. Oven temperatures vary quite a bit, and the cook time will also depend on the type and size of your potatoes. Check every 5 minutes after 30 minutes, until done! Your Indian fried potatoes are ready!
🍴 Serving & storage suggestions
You can store any leftover potatoes in an airtight container and in the fridge for up to 2 days. While you can reheat in a microwave before serving, I suggest popping the potatoes back into the pan instead. Give it a quick whirl and then serve. This way, you'll have still crispy potatoes!
You can freeze these potatoes, but I don't recommend it (they tend to get mushy and reheating doesn't replicate the crispy texture nearly as well).
I love eating these spicy Indian potatoes by themselves, but here are three more great ways to eat Bombay potatoes:
- Serve as a side dish. Instead of a classic potato salad, serve these warmly spiced potatoes, and you have a hit on your hands. Goes great with most mains (whether that's a robust meat dish or a grilled vegetable)
- Use as taco filling. This potato curry is crispy, soft, and super filling (no puns intended!) So it makes for a great vegan taco filling. Add some red onions, maybe some cilantro-mayo and you're all set. Or if you want to take it up a notch, make amazing vegan tacos by adding these potatoes to my gochujang cauliflower tacos
- Eat with naan or rice. This is really the traditional way to eat these potatoes. While most curries are "wet" these crispy potatoes hold their own with most flatbreads! Check out my foolproof homemade naan recipe for the fluffiest, pillowy naan bread you can make at home. Or, try this jeera rice for another perfect pairing!
P.S., If you want to try a different flavor profile of similarly roasted potatoes, check out these roasted old bay potatoes. Delicious!
Craving other Indian dishes? Check these out:
Did you make this recipe?! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Bombay Potatoes (Spicy Indian Potatoes)
- 2 teaspoon turmeric powder, divided
- 1½ teaspoons red chili powder, I use Kashmiri chili powder, which is potent; adjust to taste!
- 4 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons water, to form slurry with chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, skip or replace with ½ teaspoon whole grain mustard (more potent)
- 1½ teaspoons cumin seeds, substitute with cumin powder
- 6 potatoes, medium, Yukon Gold
Parboil the potatoes
- Bring a pot of water to boil along with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Quarter the potatoes (no need to peel) and drop them into the water. Boil for about 10-15 minutes, after you start to see bubbles appear in the water (rolling boil). Note: At the 10 minute mark, take a fork and poke your potatoes. If the fork goes through cleanly, you're good to go. If they don't, let them cook a bit more, checking every minute using the same technique. You don't want to over boil them.
Prep spice mix
- In a medium sized bowl (that can hold all the potatoes) add the chickpea flour, remaining turmeric, salt, and red chili powder and give it a good whisk.
Make Bombay Potatoes!
- Once the potatoes are done boiling, remove from heat using a colander or slotted spoon. Rinse the potatoes under cold water to stop them from further cooking and peel the potatoes (the peels should come right off)
- Drop the peeled potatoes into the bowl with the spice mix and give it a good toss to coat them evenly. Now, add about 4 teaspoons of water to make sure the spices stick to the potatoes. Don't add too much water!
- In a skillet, heat vegetable oil on medium heat.
- Once the oil starts to glisten, add mustard seeds. Then, once the mustard seeds starts sputtering, add cumin seeds. Toast for about 20 seconds taking care not to burn the seeds. Note: You can skip the mustard seeds if you don't have them, and add the cumin seeds straight to the oil. If you plan to use cumin powder, skip this step entirely and add the cumin powder after you add the potatoes.
- Toss the potatoes into the skillet, taking care not to overcrowd them. Give them a good stir and let them cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Then give them one more good stir and let them cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Your potatoes should be golden brown by this time. If not, give it a few more minutes until they are.
- Once they are golden brown, turn the heat off, garnish with some curry leaves (note: these are not bay leaves!) or cilantro if you wish, and serve hot with naan, rice or any other main dish of choice.
- Using the chickpea flour makes the potatoes ultra crispy. If you don't have that on hand, you can just toss the potatoes in the spices and drop them in the oil. You might need to watch the potatoes as they cook to make sure they're crispy the way you want it (and it might take a bit more time!)
- Adjust the spice to your taste levels. In my household, we use Kashmiri red chili powder when I need heat - this is quite potent. If you want milder flavors but still a kick, you can use paprika instead.
Note: This recipe was originally published on August 23, 2020. It was updated on January 10, 2023 with extra tips and tricks and video instructions.
Bombay potatoes look so tempting with their crispy texture. Loved the addition of chickpea flour.
This recipe is super easy to follow and I love the simplicity of the spice mixture. They turned out fabulous and this will definitely be a staple in our house moving forward. If you dont typically cook with salt (we dont normally) - I'd cut the salt in half. We didn't have mustard seeds so I skipped that but honestly the flavor is incredible even without them. Another great recipe from Urban Farmie 🙂
Thanks so much, Naila! Totally hear you on the salt, and so glad that it turned out awesome even without mustard seeds 🙂
Can you parboil the potatoes ahead of time and start with cold potatoes?
Hi, yes, you can! As long as it's parboiled, it should be okay!
So simple and so yummy - love this crispy version of the homely jeera aloo💯💯
Absolutely delicious and so easy! Thank you
My husband and I really liked this! I needed to use up some potatoes and to have something more to serve alongside leftover Baingan Bharta I'd made a few days earlier. I'd used up all the hot chili powder I'd bought on a trip to India so substituted Vindaloo curry seasoning, otherwise followed the recipe exactly. The potatoes browned perfectly with the chickpea flour and were so wonderfully crispy! Delicious. Have a feeling this will become a go-to recipe for us 🙂
I'm so glad you loved the recipe and what a great idea to use Vindaloo seasoning! Thanks so much!!
Very impressed with the simplicity of this recipe, and the results were superb. Thank you
Thank you so much Paul! Glad you liked it!!
This was amazingly simple and flavorful! Wish I had used a nonstick skillet. Otherwise a fantastic meal for the rotation!
Thank you so much Blake - yes, non-stick or a well-seasoned cast iron will give you maximum crispiness without sticking! Thank you so much.
Tried tonight, family loved it. I went heavy on the floor and spice mix. Turmeric in the potato water is a great idea.
Didnt have chick pea flour so went with SR flour. Have to get some though.
Loved it, easy to make, good starter recipe for newbie like me.
Thank you very much.
Thank you so much, Mick! Love the tweaks and so glad your family enjoyed it.
I found your recipe when looking for a Bombay Aloo recipe because I was craving that dish after having it at a semi-local Indian restaurant. Forgive me for having to change it around a little bit, but I was just cooking for me this evening (as the family had already grabbed something on the run) and I had to work with what I had and was "hangry" LOL I substituted dry mustard powder for the seeds, chili oil for the chili pepper and rice flour for the chickpea flour since that's what I had. I also sliced the potato in thin slices vs boiling first for a quick prep/cooking time. I had everything else in the recipe and cooked them in a skillet. Once they were close to done, I sprinkled cilantro over them. They were delicious and satisfied the craving! I look forward to when I have time to do the traditional version! Thank you!
Love the modifications! I think all of these are great substitutes, so thanks for taking the time to share back! 🙂
This may be a silly question, but do you cut the potatoes after you peel them. I don't see that in the instructions unless I missed this.
Hi Sara - no worries! I usually quarter the potatoes before I boil them (you can see this in Step 1) - so I don't cut them after I peel them! But depending on how big your potatoes are, you totally can (or use baby potatoes, but those can be annoying to peel!) Hope this helps.