You would think that the glorious golden potato would out-spud more exotic counterparts such as eggplant or okra, but the growing interest in eating healthier and avoiding starchy vegetables has cast potatoes aside. I’m here to say, “Let the potatoes stay!” (in moderation of course). Regardless, after you try this potato sabzi, you’ll realize that there’s more to the spud than meets the eye. But…what’s a sabzi? It’s essentially “vegetable side dish,” which is not the most exciting thing to say you’re bringing to a potluck…which is why I love saying “sabzi” instead. 

Ann from The Familiar Kitchen inspired me to perfect this recipe after she shared her dosa recipe. Growing up, I didn’t have many good options for masala dosa. This only added to the allure of learning how to make dosa.  It’s my go-to dish when ordering at Indian restaurants, especially when I’m traveling. Plus, it is so hard to make a delicious crispy dosa at home. Ann helped me learn more about the art of making dosa so I could practice improving my skills. I’m nowhere near restaurant-level yet, but a girl can dream.

Equally important to the dosa is the masala dosa filling. Enter this recipe. The presence of curry leaves and mustard seeds tends to me draw in. Something about the combination is so satisfying to taste when eating a dish. It melds together beautifully in this potato sabzi. 

I was surprised to learn that masala dosa filling is actually quite simple and doesn’t require a multitude of spices. This is a prime example of how important a tadka is and how it perfectly impacts the final taste of any dish.

The most time-consuming part for the recipe is waiting for the potatoes to boil then cool before peeling them. In the grand scheme of things, it’s kind of nice because it does not require your full attention. During this time, you’ll be free to try your hand at sambar or maybe whip up a scrumptiously cool coconut chutney to go with the dish. For sambar, I absolutely love Ann’s recipe. She makes her sambar podi from scratch, which makes it that much more enjoyable to eat.

The flavors of masala dosa may have inspired this dish, but potatoes don’t always need dosa to shine. It’ll stand perfectly nice on its own. Plus, it’s the perfect recipe to become more comfortable with doing a tadka and making a sabzi to go with a meal. Let me know if you love it as much as I do.


South Indian Potato Sabzi

  • Total Time: 90 minutes
  • Yield: 68 Servings 1x



  • 2 tbsp chana daal
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, about 4 large potatoes, rinsed
  • 4 tbsp high heat oil, such as peanut or grapeseed
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger (heaping), finely chopped
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1 pound onions, thinly sliced, about 2 large onions
  • 2 thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp salt, adjust accordingly
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, adjust accordingly


  1. Soak chana daal in hot water for 30 minutes to soften daal. Drain water from daal after 30 minutes and set aside
  2. While chana daal is soaking, put potatoes in large pot, whole and unpeeled. Cover with cold or room temperature water so all potatoes are immersed in water. Set heat to medium-high.
  3. Bring water to boil, then boil on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Check potatoes with butter knife, if still raw, cook in 5 minute increments for up to 10 more minutes. Knife should go in smoothly, without resistance. Be careful, you don’t want your potatoes to be overcooked and mushy
  4. When potatoes are done, remove from hot water and let cool in a large bowl
  5. Once potatoes are cool to touch, peel skin with your fingers and slice potatoes into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes. Set aside
  6. In 4-6 quart wok, heat oil over medium heat. Oil is hot when 1-2 mustard seeds immediately sizzle and pop when placed in oil. Add the remaining mustard seeds, immediately cover with lid, and decrease heat to low
  7. When mustard seeds finish popping, add drained chana daal to wok and saute for 2-3 minutes over low heat
  8. Increase heat to medium. Add minced ginger, curry leaves, and minced green chili to wok and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add onions and stir to coat with oil and spices
  10. Once onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, add turmeric and asafoetida and combine. Add 3/4 cup hot water and mix well. Add salt to taste
  11. Decrease heat to low, add potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally as sauce thickens
  12. Last, add lemon juice and mix well, adjust to taste
  13. Serve hot with dosa, roti, or puri.