The word ‘caper’ is generally used to denote the salted or pickled buds of the caper plant (Capparis spinosa). Capers are majorly used for seasoning and garnishing, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. They have a sharp, piquant and salty taste, with a pungent aroma. The fruits of the caper plant are called caper berries that are pickled along with the stems.
Caperberries are large brined berries from the caper bush, which come with their stem attached. They are milder than the smaller caper bud, with a slightly lemony flavour. They taste like capers but have a stronger or milder taste. These pickled berries are also used for garnishing and cooking. You may replace capers with caper berries in some recipes, but not vice versa. Brined caper berries can be eaten like olives and pickles, hence they can replace them in some recipes. Interestingly, according to Ayurvedic texts, these berries are useful for relieving the symptoms of rheumatism and flatulence, and for stimulating the liver.
Here's an easy delicious recipe to try at home with our 2 favourite ingredients, caper berries and potatoes!
Crushed Potatoes with Caper Berries
This is a side dish that really delivers on flavour, needing little more than some simply cooked meat or fish alongside. It’s common to put all the effort into the main thing on a plate and let the sides provide the supporting act. It often works well, though, to switch the balance around: Pull out the stops on the starch, for example, and keep the main ingredient on a plate very simple.
Ingredients (Serving 4 to 6 people)
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1/3 cup olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
2 and a 1/4 pounds new potatoes, unpeeled
1 and 1/2 tablespoons mint, whole stalks and leaves, plus 2 teaspoons mint leaves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons caper berries, stems removed and cut in half if big or 4 tablespoons regular capers, rinsed and left whole
5 teaspoons unsalted butter
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 and a 1/2 tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the garlic cloves in a small ovenproof frying pan or in a small baking pan with the olive oil, bay leaf, half the thyme and half the rosemary. Place in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, basting the garlic once or twice during cooking. Remove from the oven and, once cool, strain the oil into a large frying pan. The garlic cloves need to be set aside, but the thyme and rosemary can be discarded.
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan along with the whole mint stalks and leaves and the remaining thyme and rosemary. Add a tablespoon of salt, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes. Drain, discard the mint, rosemary, and thyme, and cut the potatoes Place the pan with the garlic oil over high heat. Once hot, add the potatoes and fry for 8-9 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they start to break apart and are golden brown all over. Add the capers, roasted garlic cloves, and butter.
Cook for a further minute before adding the lemon zest and juice, parsley, shredded mint, 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pink peppercorns. Stir everything gently together, cook for a final minute and serve hot.
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