This recipe is based on one in Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Premilla Lal (Hamlyn, 1970).
- 1 medium waxy potato
- 7 tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil
- 1⁄4 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
- 6 oz. seviyan (Indian wheat vermicelli), broken into pieces about 1" long
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1⁄2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
- 12-15 fresh curry leaves
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 1⁄4 - 1⁄2 tsp. Indian or other medium-hot chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
Put potato into a small pot, cover with cold water, and add a generous pinch of salt. Boil potato over medium heat until three-quarters of the way cooked through, about 20 minutes. Drain, peel, and cut into 1⁄2" cubes. Heat 3 tbsp. of the ghee in a wok or a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, 10–15 minutes. Set potatoes aside.
Add 1 tbsp. of the ghee to same wok or skillet and heat over medium heat. Add cashews and fry, stirring often, until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Set cashews aside. Bring 3⁄4 cup water to a simmer in a small pot, cover, and keep hot over low heat.
Heat remaining ghee in same wok or skillet over medium heat. Add vermicelli and fry, stirring and tossing often, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Set vermicelli aside. Wipe wok or skillet clean and return to medium-high heat. Add oil, then mustard seeds, cover, and fry until seeds begin to pop. Add curry leaves, fry for a few seconds, then add onions and fry, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, 15–20 minutes. Add chile powder and coriander and fry for 1 minute more.
Add vermicelli, potatoes, and cashews to onion mixture and toss well. Stir in the hot water. Cook pilaf, stirring and tossing frequently, until vermicelli is tender but not too soft, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm.