Karens Potato Fry (Sri Lankan Potato Dish)

Karens Potato Fry (Sri Lankan Potato Dish)

Karen’s’ Potato Fry (Sri Lankan Potato Dish)

This is my version of a  Sri Lankan dish that I “borrowed” many years ago from the late Marlene Serpanchy, a wonderful cook whose Sri Lankan “Potato Fry” was legendary, as were her many other Sri Lankan dishes. My version is slightly different, and also does not require any peeling of the potatoes, nor does it require the separate frying of ingredients in separate pans, so it is also quicker, easier and creates less washing up (however, if you wanted an optimum finished appearance, then using separate pans for the onions and potatoes is better for the appearance…)

This dish will go well with just about ANY curry dish (such as Indian), so it’s not only useful for Sri Lankan curries. It is also delicious as a quick snack in bread or sandwiches (no butter needed). It can also be used as a spicy potato side dish for omelets and other dishes, or can even be used as an ingredient in cooking (eg: added to an omelet mixture, quiche mixtures, or used as a filling for pies or pasties, etc).

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

Serves: 4-6



  • 8-to-10 Baby Potatoes – Washed & Chopped into small cubes, with their skin left on (OR you may use 4 large, peeled potatoes instead)
  •  3 – 4 Medium Brown Onions – sliced into thin “Wedges”, (or Rings, or Diced – depending on your preference).
  •  1/2 -to -1 Whole Tablespoon of Sweet Paprika (add more or less to suit taste)
  • 1 or 2 Strands of Saffron (OR approx. 1/10 th of teaspoon of Saffron powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Ground Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Cumin Seeds
  • approx. 1/16 teaspoon dried Ground Chilli Powder (add more/less, to suit taste)
  •  1 – 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Butter (or Ghee – a clarified butter used in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking).
  •  2 – 3 Curry Leaves (Optional)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper – to taste
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt – to taste


FRESH CHILLIES: 1 to 2 Fresh Red Chillies (the small, hot variety) , finely chopped, or thinly sliced depending on your choice – and added into the Potato Fry at the time of adding the garlic and spices). Discard the Chilli seeds (….unless you want the dish to be hot / very hot).

PEAS: 1 Cup of Frozen Peas, added into the Potato Fry mixture after adding the spices.

CHEESE: 1/3 –  to- 1 Cup Grated Cheese, depending on taste. Add the grated cheese to the cooked potatoes & onion mixture, stir gently then cover with a lid to melt the cheese before serving.


Karens Potato Fry (Sri Lankan Potato Dish)

Karen's' Potato Fry (Sri Lankan Potato Dish)

  1. Heat the olive oil & Butter in a large, heavy based saucepan (med/hot heat setting if using an electric frying pan).
  2. Add the potatoes and stir well but gently, until combined with the oil/butter (NOTE: Add more oil and/ or butter at any time in the cooking process, if required).
  3. Continue to stir the potatoes very gently until they are med/dark golden brown on all sides, then cover pan with lid for 5 minutes to further soften the potatoes.
  4. Remove lid. Add onions, and mix gently until combined with potatoes, then cook until the onions are soft and caramelized (golden brown), stirring gently to ensure all the onions cook evenly. The onions should be cooked until they are golden brown -to – deep golden brown, (depending on your taste).
  5. Lower heat to a med-low simmer. Add Salt, Pepper and Spices. Stir gently until the mixture is a golden reddish brown, and all the ingredients are well combined.
  6.  Continue to stir very gently over a very low heat for 5-10 minutes, to allow the ingredients to “marinate” in the oil and spices.
  7. Serve and enjoy!.


Serving Suggestions:
Goes well with any curry dish, as well as Sri Lankan curries. Can also be used as a filling in bread or sandwiches (no butter needed), as a spicy potato side dish for omelets and other dishes, or can even be used as an ingredient in cooking (eg: added to an omelet mixture, quiche mixtures, or used as a filling for pies or pasties, etc).

Recommended side dishes or ingredients to complement this dish:
Basmathi Rice, Onion Sambal (raw onion Sri Lankan side dish), Purri-Poo (Lentil Dhal), Pappadams, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cheese Slices. You could also serve my “Karens’ Cauliflower and Spinach Dhal” with this dish in place of the traditional Sri Lankan Purri-Poo (Lentil Dhal), too.

Additional Notes:

This recipe will store VERY well kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and it should be fine to eat for at least 3-4 days, if not more.


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