Saffron Mashed Potatoes
45 Min

Saffron Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving has been my favorite American holiday for a very long time. Just like many other immigrant communities, when I first arrived here as a young bride, I found joy and comfort in joining other Indian families in celebrating Thanksgiving with a potluck of sorts. Sometimes, neighbors invited us over and we experienced local traditions. Cooking turkey was a way of assimilating in the American culture but nevertheless, it was always rubbed with a rich masala or a spicy marinade. Cranberry jelly became cranberry chutney. Turkey often showed up as an aromatic biryani or kebabs. Little kids would run around playing games, and adults would gather over chai or a glass of Scotch to discuss the latest politics back home. Sometimes, the token roast turkey would languish in the corner of the buffet table, which was overrun by curries, pilafs, and other delicacies. It was around that time I discovered mashed potatoes.


Today, no holiday table feels right without a big bowl of airy creamy mashed potatoes. I have tried almost every iteration under the sun and on the eve of Thanksgiving, I bring you my current favorite, a light herby saffron potato mash. It’s topped with olive oil, pistachios, and fennel seeds.

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Cook Time

45 Minutes



Step 1
Combine the potatoes, saffron, ginger and salt in a stock pot, cover with 3 to 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, then check to see if potatoes are fork tender. Boil off most of the water, then add the coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat off.
Step 2
Either whip the potatoes with a whisk or transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the whip attachment until the potatoes are completely mashed and evenly mixed. Cover the potatoes and let them rest for a few minutes.
Step 3
Before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro and place the mashed potatoes in a serving bowl or platter. In a small frying pan, heat olive oil and pop the fennel seeds. Turn the heat off and add the pistachios, a pinch of salt and swirl over the potatoes.
2 large Idaho potatoes (roughly 2 pounds), peeled and chopped
4-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
Generous pinch of saffron
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small serrano chile, minced
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
Pinch of sea salt

Notes & Variations

  • This is an adult dish; to make it kid friendly, skip the ginger and cilantro in the mashed potatoes and, perhaps, skip the serrano and pistachio topping. Just plain saffron mashed potatoes are also delicious! 
  • The goal is to utilize all the water from boiling. This is where the nutrients from the potato and saffron flavor reside. If the potatoes are starting to stick to the bottom of the pot but are not yet fork tender, add a bit of water. 
  • For a creamier version, use heavy cream and ghee or butter instead of coconut milk and olive oil.
  • The potatoes can be made a day or two in advance. The flavor of saffron will deepen over time. Reheat on the stove (with a bit more coconut milk) or in the oven. 
45 Min

Stock Your Pantry

Saffron galore.

You can never have too much saffron in your life. Here are some other yummy ways you can incorporate it into your meals!

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