The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

Bombay new potato

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Humankind’s relatively recent obsession with the beef burger and with fried chicken has had a huge impact on the world around us.

This extent of that impact has been laid bare by a recently published study by Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. The study, uniquely, set out to look at the distribution of all living things on Earth – plants and animals – by mass rather than population.

Using this method of calculation, humans comprise just 0.01% of the total of living things on the planet. However, that tiny 0.01% has been responsible for the extinction of 83% of all wild animals and 50% of wild plants. By contrast, animals that we have domesticated, such as cows and chickens, have grown as a proportion of the whole, because humans nurture them in order to then kill and eat them.

In fact, the study reveals that – by mass – cows and other livestock farmed for human consumption make up a staggering 60% of all mammals on the planet.

Similarly, farmed poultry make up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% of birds now being wild.

Around 50% of all animal species on Earth have disappeared over the last 50 years as a result of human activity, not least of which is habitat destruction to make way for more grazing land for cattle.

This study shows perhaps more starkly than most others just how our dietary choices impact on the world upon which we live. We do not need to eat meat to live (and indeed, there is plenty of evidence that we live more healthily without it).

If more of us stop eating meat, we could begin to redress the imbalance and maybe, just maybe, prevent the continued slide to what more and more scientists are calling the Sixth Mass Extinction.

Not all fast food needs to be unhealthy or damaging to the environment around us.

I’m not sure how authentically Indian the dish Bombay potato is, but there’s no doubting that it’s a great dish. In this version I’ve used new potatoes because they are seasonal and also have a different flavour and texture to main crop potatoes, but this is a dish that would suit both types of potato.

Quick (25 minutes) and easy to put together, this works well as a side dish, can be eaten cold as part of a picnic, or eaten all on its own.

Bombay new potato


500 g organic new potatoes, washed and scrubbed
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped (keep the seeds in for more heat)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped.


1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Halve or quarter any larger potatoes. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set to one side.

2. Place a large frying pan or skillet over a high heat. Add the groundnut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds. Stir in the chopped ginger and chilli and cook, stirring, for a further minute.

3. Now lower the heat slightly and add the ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric and sea salt. Stir to combine before adding the potatoes. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring, or until the potatoes are well smothered in the rich spices and are beginning to crisp. Remove from the heat and serve, sprinkled with the chopped coriander.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian

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15 replies

  1. Sounds like a really yummy combination of spices!

  2. amazing recipe!! I ll do today 🙂

  3. Thanks for the great recipe, beautiful photography, study information, and blog. I found it recently and look forward to your postings!

  4. Great recipe

  5. Again thank you so much for the lovely recipe!
    But more importantly the vital and educative piece on how our species is impacting on the world.
    Quite terrifying to think of a sixth mass destruction on its way. I became a vegetarian recently and my children have been for a while. I’m in my sixties and wished I’d done it sooner. Thank you. Eileen

    • Hi Eileen. Thank you for your kind comments. It’s never too late to change how and what we eat, and well done for choosing to give up meat. I think vegetarian food is so much more flavoursome and exciting anyway! Steve

  6. Perfect curry and nice clicks

  7. Those statistics should be compulsory for all people to read. All schools should teach them and all journals should share them. What on earth are we doing? Despair begins to permeate my heart but I refuse to give up hope. This surely is what social media should be used for. To get these stark messages home to the masses. To encourage and cajole and to show humans that we can live alongside our fellow inhabitants of this planet without raping it for our own needs and in the process destroying huge swathes of species. I will share this to my page on FaceBook which I am re-branding to showcase issues via good bloggers that light my flame. I hope and believe it will go down a storm and I have to admit that I write this with stinging eyes due to the livid tears it has provoked. x

  8. Don’t worry, unlike the chicken tikka masala it is Indian in origins although still fairly recent as potatoes were brought to India by the Portuguese and then English late 16 hundreds onwards.

  9. We’re travelling at the moment, but I’m keen to try this when I get home. We eat a lot of vegetarian Indian food and this is a winner.

  10. New Potatoes become part of Indian Meals once they arrive in the market. And each region, city and household has its own New Potato Curry .
    Like in Winters North Indian Kitchens celebrate Green Peas and New potatoes in a tomato sauce . It’s super delicious and quick.

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