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How to Add Potatoes to Curry | How Indian Restaurants Do it

How to Add Potatoes to Curry How Indian Restaurants Do it

Recently one of my readers got in touch asking a very good question. Plenty of curries feature potatoes, but often it isn’t clear how to add potatoes to curry. Curryspy to the rescue! In today’s article, I will talk you through everything you need to know about adding potatoes to curry, some clever ‘hacks’ that authentic Indian chefs use, and even a guide to ensure you get the perfect result. Let’s get peeling…

How to Add Potatoes to Curry | The Quick Answer

Indian chefs always use pre-cooked potatoes for curry. Potatoes cook slower than other ingredients, so they are pre-cooked before being added to the curry to make sure they are tender. As they have had a head start, they simply need to warm through to be ready at the same time as the other elements.


I’m guessing you want your curry to be extra special?

And it isn’t simply a case of boiling a few cubes of potato. Those little cubes are real flavour sponges, so you’ll want to take full advantage.

Here’s my expert guide on why it’s a great idea to pre-cook potatoes for curry, how to add them, and even a full recipe so you get amazing results time after time.

Why Precook Potatoes Before Adding Them to Curry?

Pre-cooking potatoes for curry?


There are quite a few good reasons why you’ll want to use this technique.

Here’s a quick run down…

Potatoes Work Great in Vegetable Curries

Being honest…

I doubt there is anywhere in the world where you can’t find the humble potato.

Potatoes are one of the best vegetables to use in curry!

They are filling, tasty, and actually surprisingly cheap.

They question isn’t why you should use potatoes in curry, but why aren’t you already?

They Soak Up Sauce

Potatoes, being made primarily of starch, are super absorbent.

Sure, you could just boil them in water

But where’s the fun (and taste) in that?

You want to use the potato’s natural absorbency to your full advantage! They are great vehicles for flavour. By pre-cooking your potatoes (following the recipe below) before adding them to your curry, you can ensure maximum flavour in all of your Indian dishes.

As an aside, when potatoes are all soft, they are great for thickening up curry sauce!

It’s Quicker

Have you ever made a recipe ‘on the hoof’?

How did that go?

Stressful, right?

By having the ingredients prepared and ready to go, you’ll save time when it comes to making your curry.

In fact…

This is what authentic BIR cooking is all about. Use pre-cooked ingredients (such as potatoes) to assemble a great tasting curry in minutes. If you want to know more about the BIR style of Indian cooking, you really need to check this article out.

All Ingredients Will Be Cooked at The Same Time

This is perhaps the most important reason when considering how to add potatoes to curry.

Want a bit of science?

A great deal happens chemically as a potato is cooked, and it can take anything up to 40 minutes for a potato to be considered ‘done’.

Take a look at my recipes… Notice anything?

Most curries can be cooked in around 10 minutes.

40 minutes for the potato, 10 minutes for the rest of the curry? We’ve got a bit of a time discrepancy on our hands.

You have 2 solutions if you wonder how to add potatoes to curry.

  • Simmer and stew that curry and the rest of the ingredients for 40 minutes to ensure the potato is cooked (not good).


  • Use some preboiled chunks of potato, and have the dish ready in 10 minutes. (good)

So, what’s it to be?

Option 2, for sure.

It’s 100% Authentic

Curryspy is all about teaching you to make Indian takeaway curry exactly like Indian restaurant chefs do.

And let me tell you this…

If you ever wonder how to add potatoes to curry, you are in the right place.

The method I describe below is the tried and tested technique that most Indian restaurants will use.

I mean, think about it…

They serve hundreds of curries every evening. Do you think they have time to peel, chop, and boil potatoes all night?

Hell no.

Here’s how to pre-cook potatoes for curry and how to add potatoes to curry, all in one easy-to-follow guide.

How to Add Potatoes to Curry | Full Guide and Recipe

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 30 minutes
  • Calories: 230 (per serving)
  • Servings: 8


  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin (jeera) seeds
  • 2 Cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons diluted tomato puree
  • 1 small chilli finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 – 10 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 600ml Chicken or vegetable stock


  • Place a large saucepan over high heat and add your vegetable oil and butter. Once it begins to bubble and sizzle, add your cumin, cardamom, garlic and ginger paste, and fry for around 2 minutes.
  • Add your onions and continue to fry until they turn slightly soft and translucent. Then add your tomato puree and stir. After a couple of minutes, you should be left with a thick masala and onion paste.
  • Add your chilli along with turmeric and salt. Continue to fry for a further minute until the mixture smells really fragrant.
  • Add your cubes of potato and toss in all of the lovely spices. Once the potatoes are coated, pour in the stock. Use just enough to cover the top of the potato chunks.
  • Place a well-fitting lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium and simmer for around 20 – 30 minutes until the potatoes are just tender.
  • Using a slotted spoon remove the potatoes and allow them to cool. You can either use them straight away or store them for later use (see below).

Adding Potatoes to Curry | Some Things to Keep in Mind

Size is Everything!

The size of your potato chunks will make a significant difference in your cooking time. This is because smaller potato chunks actually have a greater surface area. But, let’s not get bogged down in the maths. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: –

  • Smaller potato chunks cook quicker
  • Larger potato chunks take longer to cook

Regardless of which size you use, try to ensure that your potato chunks are roughly the same size to ensure even cooking.

Choose the Right Potatoes!

Not all potatoes are equal. The variety you choose can produce vastly different results.

Not sure which are the best potatoes for curry?

Relax, I’ve got a full guide on choosing the best potatoes for curry right here.

Prepare in Advance

I’ll be honest…

Unless you have time on your hands, figuring out how to add potatoes to curry isn’t something you will want to do when you’ve got dinner guests arriving in 15 minutes.

It takes time.

The good news is that you can use this technique (along with others) to get ahead of the game. Just ensure you’ve got enough time to pre-cook your potatoes before you intend to make your curry.

Don’t Be Scared of Spice

If you’ve read my article on making curry milder, you’ll already know that potatoes are great for soaking up flavours.

While that’s generally a good thing, there is a slight downside…

Which is?

If you’ve got a relatively mild curry, you might find that adding potato can turn it to the wrong side of bland.

The solution?

Don’t skimp on the spices. If the recipe calls for a teaspoon, use a tablespoon (but be careful with chilli).

Don’t Overcook Your Curry

If you’ve ever boiled potatoes and taken your eye off the ball, you’ll already know this…

After a while, cooked potatoes will break down into a soupy mush.

Not good.

The aim (and part of the fun of knowing how to add potatoes to curry) is to ensure that they are just cooked. Too raw, and they’ll be all crunchy (yuck). Too long, and they’ll turn into a stodgy mess.

When pre-cooking your potatoes to add to curry, take them out just before they are cooked. It won’t matter if they are a little al dente, as they will finish off cooking in your delicious curry sauce.

And, when I think about it…

If they need another 5 minutes when you are cooking your curry sauce, so be it. You have that option. Once they are overcooked, there is no going back!

Pre-cooked Potatoes for Curry | FAQ

Still not sure how to add potatoes to curry, or just want some extra info?

Here’s what I get asked all the time…

Do You Have to Peel Potatoes for Curry?

Generally, you will want to peel potatoes for a curry. It isn’t mandatory, but you’ll find that the skins will ruin the aesthetic appeal of your dish. The skin can taste a little bitter, and leaving it on will marginally increase cooking time.

Most Indian chefs will use peeled potatoes in their curry, and if they do it, so should you…

Besides this, if you peel your potatoes, you won’t need to waste time washing and scrubbing them.

Want a quick way to peel potatoes? Here’s a great little video that I found…

How Long Should I Boil Potatoes for Curry?

How long to boil potatoes for curry depends entirely on how large your cubes are and the potato variety.

 This is very much down to personal preference.

However, if you know how big your chunks are, you can make a good estimate. Here’s a handy table detailing potato size and cooking time: –

Potato  Chunk SizeApproximate Cooking Time in Minutes
Full potato45 minutes
Half potato40 minutes
Quarter Potato30 minutes
1 Inch Potato Cubes25 – 30 minutes
1cm Potato Cubes20 minutes

How Do You Cut Potatoes into Chunks?

Getting a consistent size of potato chunk is vital in ensuring even cooking. You won’t need to be a whizz with the knife. Here’s an easy step by step guide to cutting potatoes into chunks.

  • Take a sharp knife and sturdy chopping board. Chop one potato at a time.
  • Lay the potato down along its longest side. Cut the ends of the potato off and set them aside.
  • Cut the potato in half horizontally along its longest edge. Place both halves cut side down.
  • Cut each half lengthways again so you have 4 equal-sized potato sticks. Lay two sticks side by side.
  • Take note of how thick the sticks are. This is your reference for how thick the chunks will be. Working from one end to the other, cut the sticks into roughly equal-sized cubes.
  • Repeat the above process for the other two potato sticks, then move on to the next potato. Job done!

Want the easy version? Here’s a quick diagram detailing the above techniques.

How to Store Pre Cooked Potatoes for Curry (2 Methods)

Look, I know the above is a little time consuming, and you aren’t going to want to make a single batch of potatoes for curry.

It’s alright. I get it.

When considering how to use potatoes in curry, your best bet is to make a whole batch and then store them.

How do you do this?

Easy. There are two methods: –

  • Short Term – After you have cooked your potatoes, you can simply place them in a covered bowl or dish and store them in the refrigerator. They will stay good for up to 3 days. In fact, keeping food in the fridge can sometimes intensify the flavour.
  • Long Term – The good news is that you can also freeze pre-cooked potatoes for a curry. Simply pop individual portions into ziplock bags, add a little cooking stock and then place them side by side in the freezer.
  • To defrost them, give them around 2 minutes in the microwave or leave them, in the bag, in a large bowl of cold water for around 40 minutes before using your potatoes in your curry!

How to Add Potatoes to Curry | Final Thoughts…

Let’s face it. Potatoes aren’t difficult to cook. When thinking about how to add potatoes to curry, you need to consider two elements, namely, flavour and time. Get both of these dialled in, and you’ll have a worthy addition to any Indian dish. Pre-cooked ingredients are great for curries. If the idea appeals, why not check out my guide to pre-cooking lamb for curry.

Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won’t cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: – Literally, everything you’ll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: – You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you’ll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here…

Spice Storage: – Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That’s why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I’ve got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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