Fiddlehead Ferns with Potatoes and Nigella Seeds


Fiddlehead Ferns cooked with Indian SpicesAs we know, fiddleheads are one of the early harbingers of spring in New York. I had learnt to love them for their seasonal quality and enjoy them in pasta. Imagine my surprise when my friend Swapna informed me that fiddlehead ferns are also traditional in Eastern India and savored when available and the season permits.

Her recipe, which I have modified and made mine and actually shared in my cookbook, tosses the fern with potatoes, turmeric and nigella seeds. It adds enough spunk to tantalize your tastbuds but is mild enough not to overpower this delicate vegetable. This recipe will work well with tender asparagus and green beans too, so there you have it, once you try it, you have something to take you through summer.

Fiddlehead Ferns with Potatoes and Nigella Seeds

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A lightly seasoned Bengali Style Stir fry of Fiddlehead ferns, potato and nigella seeds.


  • 1 cup fiddlehead ferns (about ½ pound), trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1½ tablespoons mustard or canolla oil
  • ½ teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 2 medium russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 or 2 green chilies
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger paste (page 13)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)


  1. Put the fiddlehead ferns, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3 cups of water in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Place in a
  3. colander to drain.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat for about 1
  5. minute. Add the nigella seeds and wait for them to sizzle. Add the potatoes,
  6. turmeric, and cayenne pepper powder and cook, stirring frequently, for about
  7. 5 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crisp.
  8. Once the potatoes are crisp and a nice golden brown color, add the remaining
  9. teaspoon of salt, the green chilies, red chili, and ginger paste and sauté for
  10. another minute. Add the drained fiddlehead ferns and the ghee and cook for
  11. another 2 minutes.


Recipe from the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, Rinku Bhattacharya, Hippocrene Books, 2012

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About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences, original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years. Rinku is also the author of the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook, that highlights and offers many simple Indian recipes off the beaten path. Her second cookbook, Spices and Seasons, uses the approach in this column and marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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