When I was vegan, tandoori chicken was one of the things I supremely craved. No substitute—tofu, tempeh, cauliflower—could quite take the place of Indian buffet tandoori. These days, I eat meat sparingly, but this recipe is one I still go to again and again. No, it doesn’t have all the hallmarks of a traditional tandoori—no yogurt marinade, which isn’t necessary to break down the dense fiber of animal protein, in this case. This recipe is comforting in the best way, with just a hint of spice. The brightness from the lemon is requisite; so is the mint. Pair this with your favorite Gewürztraminer—Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Winery makes a great one, as does Cave de Ribeauville Collection Gewürztraminer. It’s also vegan and gluten-free.
4 small-ish to medium red potatoes, skins on
4 generous tablespoons of coconut oil
A generous pinch garlic powder (a teaspoon or so, to taste)
One to two tablespoons of tandoori powder mix, like this one
1 cup tofutti sour cream (traditional sour cream will work as well)
A handful of finely chopped mint
A handful of finely chopped cilantro
A generous drizzle of lemon
Salt to taste
A pinch of coriander powder, if you’re feeling fancy
Preheat the oven to 425, so it’ll be waiting for you. After giving the potatoes a good scrub (and leaving skins on! Buy organic if you can), drop all four into a good size pot filled with salted water and bring to a rolling boil. When the potatoes are fork tender—they should basically be mashable, about 30 minutes, give or take—drain them and run them under cold water.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half. Dry them well with a paper towel, as this will help them to better crisp up in the oven.
Place them on an oven tray that’s been well oiled and smash them with a fork. They should be tender enough to where you can do it easily and the fork leaves grooved imprints. If it doesn’t, your potatoes haven’t boiled long enough, and you’ll end up with a tray of home fries-ish looking potatoes. (If this is the case, you’ll want to take them out mid-way during baking, smash them a little more, and then put them back in.)
Sprinkle tandoori masala on them, to taste. Be sure to taste your tandoori powder before you dump it on the potatoes—there’s a huge variance in spice and flavor levels, as well as salt content, so you want to make sure you’re not cooking something that will later be inedible. If you don’t have tandoori powder, 2 tablespoons of coriander, 1 tablespoon of cumin, and 3 tablespoons of paprika would be a simple substitute.
Bake for 30ish minutes. Don’t be afraid to bake for 10 extra if you find they’re not as crispy as they should be.
While that’s happening, assemble your super easy mint raita: mix the tofutti sour cream, chopped mint, salt, and lemon juice. Depending on how much lemon juice you add, you’ll want to add a little water to thin out the sour cream, so that it’s the drizzling consistency of a crema.
Gowri Chandra is a journalist whose articles and recipes have been featured in Food & Wine, CN Traveler, Thrillist, Los Angeles Magazine, Tasting Table, Vice, and others. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @gowri_chandra.