Simple and wholesome poorman's potato (Patatas a lo pobre).

Poor man’s Potato

Poor man’s potato is a direct translation of the Spanish dish called Patatas a lo pobre. It is made up basically of potatoes, onions and peppers fried in oil.

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. There is nothing poor about this dish, it is healthy, it is filling and it tastes awesome-real comfort food. Poor man’s potato is good for vegetarians, dieters and gluten sensitive people.

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There are certain dishes you eat and you suddenly make it your life goal to recreate them, come what may and at any cost. This is one such dish. I didn’t know the name until recently and by then, I had been able to recreate the dish and also adapt it to the Nigerian culinary style, in a way.

Simple and wholesome poorman's potato (Patatas a lo pobre).

I was also excited because I am always looking for simple dishes that will add diversity and alleviate boredom at the dinner table.

Poor man’s potato can be eaten as an appetiser (entree, starter) or as a main course, it can be made rustic or gourmet. Whichever way you decide to take it, please do not weigh down the Poor man’s potato with too many spices, simplicity is key.

The only downside is, it doesn’t freeze well, it is best eaten on the day it is made.

To make Poor man’s potato

1 kg Irish potatoes
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
3 medium onions
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf 
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
2 seasoning cubes
dry chili pepper or scotch bonnet
2 tablespoons tomato paste 

2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
(Beef, pork, chicken, sausage, egg)

Wash and peel potatoes.

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Cut into bite sized cubes or slightly bigger.

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Place in a pot of water, season with salt, cover and bring to a vigorous boil.

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Immediately drain into a sieve reserving a little of the potato water. Set aside.

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Slice onions and crush garlic cloves.

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De-seed the bell peppers. Cut into thin strips and set aside. Don’t discard the ends, just cut them into whatever shape, remember waste not, want not.

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Place a dry pot over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add the potatoes and fry for about 1 minute, drain and set aside.

When hot, add the potatoes and fry for about 2-3 minutes, drain and set aside.

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You are not trying to brown the potatoes, just to add flavour and finish their cooking.

Pour out most of the oil and add onions, fry till almost tender.

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Add garlic, bay leaf and thyme, stir well. Add pepper strips and fry till they soften but not mushy. I like to still have some life in these sweet peppers.

Add pepper strips and fry till they soften but not mushy.

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Stir in the tomato paste to add colour, add seasoning cube and dry pepper.

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Fry for 1 minute. (You can add about one tablespoon of the reserved potato water here) stir.

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Pour in your potatoes, stir, taste and add salt. Cover till heated through.

Take off the heat and serve.

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To make it a porridge: 

To make a porridge, add 1/4 cup of the reserved potato water or meat stock, cover and simmer for a few minutes and stir very well.

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Take off the heat. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.

Simple and wholesome poorman's potato (Patatas a lo pobre).


  • If you are cooking a large quantity, fry potatoes in batches and use fresh oil for the vegetables or strain the oil used for the potatoes.
  • I normally don’t use fish for this dish, because it breaks down easily and those fish bones can hide in unexpected places.

There are so many things you can do to this dish to own it. Put on your creative caps and get to work.

  • You can cut beef, pork or chicken into strips and stir-fry before frying the onions.
  • Boil meat till they are fall-off-the-bone soft or use leftover pulled pork.
  • Chopped sausage and bacon also go well.
  • Fry an egg sunny side and place on top.
  • Potato can be substituted for yam, sweet potato or unripe/partially ripe plantains

Gourmet Poor man’s Potato:

Fry up some calamari or baked fish and place on the side with a bowl of salad and you have got yourself a gourmet dish. In this case skip the tomato paste, instead use peeled, deseeded tomatoes and cut the potatoes a bit smaller. I just love this dish.


You will also love my Easy Potato Saladtwice cooked potato, Potato and green vegetable balls (Green amaranth) and oven roasted sweet potato.

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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