Reprinted with permission from Nuts in the Kitchen: More Than 100 Recipes for Every Taste and Occasion by Susan Loomis
I was inspired to make this dish after visiting eastern Anatolia, in Turkey, where I immersed myself in the region's cuisine. Rich with the pistachio nuts which are the signature crop of the area, and lively with spices, Anatolian cuisine is a mix of the hearty and the ethereal. This dish falls into both categories since saffron is always ethereal, potatoes are always hearty, and the crunch of the pistachios is magical.
This is listed as a side-dish, but it makes a wonderful main course with a crisp green salad alongside.
NOTE: Be sure to gently boil the yogurt mixture (and be sure to use full-fat yogurt as low fat varieties don't work here), and cook it at a slow boil for at least 2 minutes to get rid of the taste of the flour. The point of the clarified butter here is not only its hazelnut flavor, but its high burn point. However, if you don't have clarified butter use regular butter and watch it carefully.
1. Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl and let it drain for about 4 hours. The yogurt will be quite thick, about the consistency of soft cream cheese. Transfer the yogurt to a medium-sized saucepan. Whisk in the egg, the flour, and the garlic and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the yogurt mixture is boiling gently, and cook until the mixture thickens and the flavor of the flour is gone, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning, and reserve.
2. Place a steamer over medium high heat and when the water is boiling, place the potatoes in the steamer, cover, and steam the potatoes until they are tender through, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them. If they aren't small, cut them into 1 1/2 inch (3.75cm) chunks.
3. Melt the clarified butter with the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to melt, add the saffron and stir. Cook the saffron until it begins to sizzle and smell like heaven, then add the onion and stir. Cook until the onions soften at the edges, then add the potatoes and stir into the onions and saffron. Season with salt, and continue cooking, stirring and shaking the pan often, until the onions are thoroughly softened and the potatoes begin to brown around the edges, which will take about 10 minutes. Add the yogurt sauce to the potatoes, stir, then add the pistachios and stir them into the sauce. Cook all the ingredients together until they are hot through, stirring and shaking the pan until they are thoroughly combined, which will take about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. While the potatoes and onions are cooking together, place the olive oil and the mint in a small, heavy bottomed pan, whisk them together and place over very low heat, just enough so that the oil heats up, but not so that it comes anywhere near a boil. Let the oil heat for about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and reserve.
5. To serve, either evenly divide the potatoes among six warmed plates, and drizzle with equal amounts of mint oil, or pass the potatoes and the mint oil separately.
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Susan Loomis is an author, writer and cooking teacher. She is the author of nine books, most recently Nuts in the Kitchen. She has appeared on TV and radio programs, and her writing has been published in Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Travel & Leisure and The New York Times. She is a regular columnist for France Today.