Mridula Baljekar’s Comber Earlies in Coconut Milk

The delightful Comber Earlies, a prized produce of Northern Ireland, are a new discovery to me.  I thought they would be the same as the Jersey Royals, a 19th century discovery in the island of Jersey, but I found them even better in terms of taste, texture and colour.  The delicious earthy flavour is so moreish that I even enjoyed them with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper.   They not only taste delicious, but also have plenty of nutrition such as complex carbohydrate which is our main source of energy, vitamins B, C and dietary fibre. They need nothing added to them except a knob of butter and salt& pepper, but this recipe will surprise you and also entice all your senses.  The boiled potatoes are briefly simmered in coconut milk delicately spiced with sautéed and crushed red chilli and fenugreek seeds.  Just two spices create sensational flavours.   Fenugreek seeds have a powerful flavour, so make sure you use only the specified quantity.  It is superb with hot crusty bread or fabulously fluffy naan to mop up the sauce.  All you will need is a green salad to accompany.

Recipe created by Mridula Baljekar, Gourmand World Award winning cookbook author (

Difficulty medium
Preparation Time 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time 40-50 minutes
Servings 4-5
Main Ingredients
  • 1kg Comber Earlies
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Small bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • 400ml/14 fl oz canned coconut milk
  • 30g/2oz creamed coconut, roughly chopped or desiccated coconut finely ground
  • 1 tbsp coconut, corn or sunflower oil
  • 2-3 dried red chillies, torn into pieces
  • 1 tsp level teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • The juice of half a lime

Main Instructions
  1. Put the potatoes into a saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Add half the salt and the mint leaves reserving a couple of sprigs for garnishing.
  2. Bring it to the boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for 12-14 minutes until they are tender.
  3. Drain and plunge them immediately in cold water to prevent them cooking further.
  4. Peel away the skin and prick the potatoes all over with a fork or a toothpick.
  5. This allows the flavours to penetrate.
  6. In a separate pan, heat the coconut milk gently and add the cooked potatoes and the remaining salt.
  7. Add the creamed or desiccated coconut and bring it to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan over a low heat and add the chillies and fenugreek seeds.
  9. Let them sizzle gently until they are just a shade darker, but do not allow them to brown.
  10. Switch off the heat source and let cool for a few minutes.
  11. Crush them in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon until fine. Reserve one teaspoon of the mixture and scrape every bit of the remainder into the pan with the potatoes.
  12. Stir in the lime juice and remove from the heat.
  13. Transfer it to a serving dish and drizzle the reserved spiced oil on top, garnish with a sprig of mint and serve.
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