North Indians call this humble vegetable, ‘Aloo’ and the women folk call their men Couch Potato. This is a staple food, with which they make Aloo Gobi, Aloo Mattar, Aloo Methi, Aloo Baingan – to name a few. But South Indians are different. They too make the same items, but they don’t attach much respect to this humble vegetable by naming their dishes with the ‘Potato’ suffix or prefix. For South Indians, Potato can be an ingredient in anything they make except Payasam which is a desert. Potato was pretty cheap in Australia a few years back, when one kilo potato was available for just 60cents. But nowadays the price stands at an average of $3.50 per Kilo.
Enter Australia, the Indians soon shift their preferences to Potato bake, Potato Salads and the unhealthy but addictive Potato chips. Australians are chomping through around 63Kg of Potatoes a year per person. For Indian- Australians, a Potato is just a potato and many are not aware that 8 or 9 different varieties of Potatoes are sold in Australian Supermarkets without differentiating. Only differentiation most know is, whether they are red or white or washed or brushed. Most super markets have at least four or more different varieties of Potato namely ruby lou, dutch cream, desiree, virginia rose, nadine, carisma and kipfler. These different varieties are good for different purposes like boiling, roasting, baking, mashing or frying. The main reason, why every potato looks and feels the same for us, is because we are not adequately educated about it. while we were in India, we used Potatoes mostly in curries. In curries they won’t make much of a difference, whatever may be the variety.
Types of Potatoes
Mainly, there are two types of Potatoes; waxy potatoes and Floury potatoes. Waxy potatoes are low in starch and holds their shape when cooked. Floury variety has more starch content, so they are good for mashing, roasting, making chips and baking. red rascal, kipfler, Bintje, Dutch Cream, Nadine, Nicola, Patrone, Pink Eye and Purple Congoare are popular waxy potatoes. Coliban, King Edward, Estima and Maris Piper are main Floury varieties.
Australian supermarkets generally sell all – rounder potatoes like desiree and Golden delight as they can be adjusted for both Floury and Waxy variety but may not be the best alternative for either of them. Other popular all-rounder varieties are Kennebec, Otway Red, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Royal Blue, Sebago, Spunta and Toolangi Delight
How to Choose good quality potatoes
When you buy potatoes, hold them in your hand to check whether they are firm and heavy. There should not be any soft spots, Sprouting eyes or Green discolouration.
Potatoes with green discolouration are poisonous
Potatoes will often go green when they’re not stored properly and they’re exposed to light. Potatoes with green discolouration contain high levels of a toxin, solanine, which can cause nausea, headaches and neurological problems. It can even cause death. Sprouting Potatoes also have high levels of Solanine. The Green colour is caused by high levels of Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is harmless. But presence of high level of Chlorophyll is a warning sign that, it also contains high levels of Solanine, which is produced at the same time as chlorophyll. Solanine is usually localised just below the surface of the peel. A person weighing 45kg requires the consumption of half a kilo potato to get poisoned. Two medium sized potatoes will weigh around half a kilo. But this amount is enough to make children seriously ill.
So when you buy potatoes from shop, ensure that you are avoiding green potatoes. When you store them, store in cool, dimly lit areas. A potato stored is still a living entity with its own metabolism. Depending on the light that falls on it, potatoes can make chemicals inside. Depending on the type of light that falls, it can make chemicals like Solanine. Even if the Potato did not turn green it could be having high levels of Solanine as the type of light did not result in the formation of Chlorophyll. Potatoes with high levels of Solanine will be having a slightly bitter taste. If the potato tastes bitter don’t eat it either. Just to make it clear – Never eat green potatoes or potatoes that tastes bitter. Next time when you find potatoes with spouting shoots or green discolouration, don’t eat it but plant it.