Try this potato shaak recipe from writer Urvashi Roe's book Biting Biting, then listen to her podcast about Gujarati food. Urvashi says: "In Sanskrit, saka means ‘vegetable’ but in Gujarati it is the word we use for ‘curry’. Depending on which part of Gujarat you are from, you might say shaak or saak. Shaak can be dry or with sauce, and it can feature a stuffed vegetable, single vegetable or combinations of vegetables. It is often associated with certain rituals or functions – for example, at weddings you will often see potato shaak, mixed vegetable and dumpling shaak, and some form of lilotri or green vegetable shaak.

"This is the simplest version of potato shaak, the recipe I was taught at the age of eight. I was expected to be able to make this confidently at that age along with rotli and rice. After the recipe, I’ve shared some ideas of what I do with the leftovers."

*This recipe is from a book pull and has not been tested by our cookery team

Potato shaak recipe


  • 1 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
  • 1½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 curry leaves (optional)
  • 750g potatoes peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 50g fresh coriander finely chopped
  • rotli (roti) or other Indian flatbread, to serve


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oil in a pan or wok over a medium heat. After a few minutes test to see how hot the oil is by popping in a few mustard and cumin seeds – if they fizzle and pop then the oil is ready.

  • STEP 2

    Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves in very quick succession. Let them fizzle and pop for a few seconds and then quickly add the potatoes. Be careful as the oil may spit at you – you can use the lid of the pan as a shield. Add the salt, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder, then pour in 100ml of water, mix and cover.

  • STEP 3

    Leave to cook on a low-medium heat for 20-30 mins or until the potatoes are just tender but not mushy. You can give it a gentle mix after 10 minutes to make sure the spices are evenly distributed. Once it’s done, garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with rotli on the side or rolled up in a rotli like a burrito. I also like it on a thick slice of buttery toast. Alternatively, you can serve it with couscous, quinoa or rice.

Potato shaak recipe tips

  • Mix the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves in a small bowl so they are easily to hand to add to the hot oil.
  • Use a metal spoon or fork to mix the shaak. My mum always berates my husband for using a wooden spoon because all the spices stick to it.
  • Don’t be tempted to stir it more than once because you will break up the potatoes. If it is sticking, then add a little more water and turn downthe heat.

What to do with potato shaak leftovers

Shaak on toast

Any shaak is fantastic on toast. Make sure you cut your own thick slices – about an inch thick is good – of sourdough or ciabatta, or use a slice of toasted panini. The toast must be buttered before the shaak goes on and if you are a ghee fan like me then a few spoons drizzled on top works a treat.

Shaak sandwich

I used to eat this at university when I got homesick because I always had individual portions of mum’s potato shaak in the freezer. After a night out it really is the best snack with a cup of tea. The sandwich works best with crusty white bread. Not anything fancy like sourdough but the ordinary white loaves the corner shop always has handy.

Prepare two slices of bread by spreading green chilli and coriander chutney (or another chutney) on one side of each slice. Put three or four tablespoons of shaak on one slice and smooth it out to the edges. Add a layer of sev or some shop-bought bombay mix, Chipsticks or ready salted crisps. Top with the other slice of bread, chutney-side inwards, and slice into two.

Shaak chaat

This can look like a proper showstopper. You can experiment with whatever you have lying around. Slices of confit garlic work super well as a decadent topping. I also like scattering over toasted nuts and seeds for the crunch. It can be served with slices of toast or toasted pitta breads if you don’t have time to make parothas. You can use hot or cold shaak.

Spread a cup of left-over shaak onto a plate. Finely chop 50g of tomatoes and 50g of red onion and arrange them evenly over the top. Put half a cup of plain thick yogurt or skyr into a bowl and mix in a tablespoon of water and half a teaspoon of salt. Drizzle this over your shaak. Sprinkle over some sev, or some plain tortilla chips or ready salted crisps, lightly crushed. Hula Hoops work well! Drizzle over some chutney of your choice. Scatter with a couple of spoonfuls of pomegranate seeds and toasted, coarsely chopped peanuts.


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