One of my guilty pleasures is a good potato salad. You too? Well here is a healthier version with no sacrifice in flavor. This yogurt potato salad is creamy, crunchy, and so crave-able. And the nutty pop of mustard seeds is a flavorful nod to Indian food.
For more perfect summer sides see my Indianish Coconut Cabbage salad recipe.
Creamy and Crunchy
According to the website I Really Like Food, Southern potato salad is the second most popular salad in America. This recipe is a riff on the South Indian love of coconut oil, black mustard seeds, and lime juice. And it is a vibrant side to any summer meal.
This is my new favorite potato salad. It is creamy and crunchy without egg or mayo. I've used my last go-to Japanese-inspired recipe from Milk Street as a template, but upped the flavor quotient.
Dare I say that this salad even has a chance at competing with your Mom's beloved potato salad. Make sure to plan ahead though, because it is so much better the next day after the dressing has a chance to soak into the potatoes.
- The yogurt sub makes it so much healthier so you can make it often
- Yogurt also gives you an extra boost of protein
- This salad is even better with added vegetables
- Proof that yogurt is an excellent mayo substitution for other dishes too
Substitutions: Rather than a full-on sharp vinegar, I’ve used milder rice vinegar. Did you know that rice vinegar is the same as rice wine vinegar? Confusing but true.
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent substitute for rice vinegar. And if you can't get your hands on the spicier black or brown mustard seeds, the yellow ones will also be welcome. They just don't have as much flavor.
Ingredients for cooking the potatoes
Peeled and cubed potatoes, salt, sugar, and vinegar.
The Sauce Ingredients
The main sauce ingredients are yogurt, lime or lemon juice, oil, and vinegar.
- Mustard seeds
- Salt & pepper
- Turmeric, optional
- Red onion
Vegetable and optional garnishes
- Celery or cucumber, fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, or mint). Chives, scallion greens, red chili flakes, or paprika are some garnishing ideas.
How to Make Yogurt Potato Salad
The method I recommend here is from Kenji Lopez-Alt, author and contributor to Serious Eats. For Kenji's Classic Potato Salad, he starts the potatoes in cold water flavored with sugar, salt, and vinegar to give them a good flavor headstart.
Be sure to keep in mind that the success of this salad depends on the right balance of sweet, sour, and salt. Be sure to taste, taste, taste!
In a saucepan with cold water, stir in the cubed potatoes, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are tender. While the potatoes are cooking toast the mustards and prep the vegetables.
Toast mustard seeds until they pop
Optional step of marinating the onions
Combine the sauce ingredients. When the potatoes are tender, drain well and mix them into the yogurt sauce while they are warm so they can better soak up the flavors.
Sauce ingredients just before mixing
The potato salad ready to be chilled
Chill the salad for at least an hour, but better yet, overnight.
Substitutes for Greek Yogurt
Greek-style yogurt is a thick, cow's milk yogurt. If you are looking for good substitutes, here are my favorites:
- If you have "regular" natural plain whole milk yogurt, you will want to drain off some of the whey. For detailed instructions head over to The Healthy Home Economist.
- If you are needing a dairy-free option, any plant-based yogurt works well, but choose one that is relatively neutral in flavor, or a coconut yogurt would be perfect.
- Mix an equal amount of sour cream, puréed cottage cheese, or cream cheese, with buttermilk or whole milk
- Coconut cream
- Avocado purée
How to Choose Potatoes
There are four types of potatoes I think about when making potato salad and they all bring something different:
- Russet potatoes: I always thought these were not a good choice for salad. As it turns out I was wrong! Kenji Lopez-Alt, author and contributor to Serious Eats, recommends this variety because it does a better job of absorbing the dressing. What I like about them is that they do break down a bit adding even more body and creaminess to the party.
- Red or waxy potatoes: These work well if you prefer a potato that holds its shape better.
- Yukon Golds: A beautiful halfway between russet and waxy potatoes and always a good choice for almost any dish.
- Small baby (new) or fingerling potatoes: They keep their shape if that is the texture you are going for. And there is no peeling!
The bottom line? Depending on the potatoes you have and the texture of the potato salad you are going for, use what you like.
Optional Veggie & Flavoring Ideas
Here are some ideas about other vegetables, spices, and proteins you could play with:
- Try roasting the potatoes or sub in sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers
- Grated carrot
- Avoid watery veggies like zucchini
- Lentils: chickpeas or any of your favorite lentils cooked
- 1/4 cup crumbled paneer, feta, or firm tofu
- Sausage, cubed pancetta, or ham
Spices and flavorings
- A 1/2 teaspoon of Nigella seeds (kalonji)
- A couple of teaspoons of a spice mix of your choice
- Your favorite pickle chopped up
- Chili flakes, or cayenne
Hate Raw Onion?
Here are some onion alternatives and ways to tame the onion you have:
- Increase the scallions and skip onion all together
- Use a milder allium like chives, shallots, or sweet onions
Tips to tame the raw onion bite
- Start the recipe by allowing the minced onions to marinate in the vinegar while you are prepping the other ingredients
- Blanch the chopped onion for a minute in boiling water. You will still have some texture but the sharpness will be gone
Optional step of allowing the onion to marinate to reduce the bite
Serving and Storing
Yogurt potato salad will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Serve at room temperature or chilled—my preference—with your favorite garnishes. This salad does not freeze well.
More Indian-Inspired Salad Ideas
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card and/or let me know in the comments below. Thank you! ~Alonna
Recipe Card 📖
Healthy Indian Potato Salad with Yogurt
COOKING THE POTATOES
- 1 1/2 pounds potatoes ~ See How to Choose Potatoes above
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar ~ Or cider
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sea salt ~ Or 2 tbpsn Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds ~ See Notes below
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar ~ Or cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice ~ Or lemon
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil ~ Or your favorite
- 1 teaspoon garlic ~ Grated or puréed
- 1/4 cup red onion ~ Finely minced
- 1/4 cup celery ~ Chopped. Or cucumber, seeds removed. See Notes below
- 2 scallions (green onions) ~ Finely minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Or 2 tsps Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper ~ More to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric ~ Optional
- 1/2 cup Greek-style plain yogurt ~ Ideally full-fat (hung yogurt)
- 3 tablespoons cilantro ~ Chopped. Or mint, parsley
- scallions greens
- toasted sesame seeds
- paprika ~ Smoked or not
- chili flakes
COOK THE POTATOES
- Peel and cut the potatoes into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes (2 to 2.5 cm). Place in a saucepan with c cups of water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium or the heat that keeps the water at a good simmer. Cook until tender stirring occasionally. This will take about 10 to 16 minutes.
MAKE THE DRESSING
- While the potatoes are cooking, prep the vegetables. Mix together all the dressing ingredients except the mustard seeds and set aside. The vinegar and lime juice will help mellow out the garlic, onion, and scallions while resting. See the Notes below if you don't like raw red onions.
- Toast the mustard seeds: Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the mustard seeds and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the heat as soon as they start to pop. They burn easily so immediately transfer to a dish to stop them from cooking. Spice
- Drain the potatoes and thoroughly mix into the sauce ingredients.
- Taste for salt (I always need more), pepper, acid (lime, lemon juice, or vinegar), and sugar. Chill for at least an hour, but ideally overnight to allow the dressing to absorb into potatoes. TIP: The sauce may seem a bit loose before chilling, but it will continue to be absorbed into the potatoes.
SERVE AND STORE
- Yogurt potato salad will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Serve at room temperature or chilled with your favorite garnishes. Please see more ideas in the notes below. This salad does not freeze well.
- Mustard seeds: The darker the mustard the more flavor and zing they have. Try to find either the black or brown ones, but yellow will do in a pinch.
- Taking the bite out of onions:
- Start the recipe by allowing the minced onions to marinate in the vinegar.
- Simmer the red onion for a minute in boiling water and then follow the recipe.
- Increase the scallions and skip the red onion altogether.
- Add heat:
- Chili flakes: 1/2 teaspoon Indian, Korean (gochagaru), Japanese (togarashi), or Italian chili flakes.
- Big pinch of cayenne
- Finely chopped fresh green chilis
- Other optional add-Ins:
- Protein: 1/4 cup crumbled paneer, feta, firm tofu, sausage, or cubed pancetta or ham
- Lentils: Chickpeas or any of your favorite lentils cooked
- Vegetables: Corn, chives, zucchini, peas, cabbage, celery, or some minced green chili.
- Spices and flavorings: Some nigella seeds (kalonji) or a couple of teaspoons of a spice mix of your choice. Also, consider your favorite pickle chopped up.
- To make this yogurt potato salad vegan, use a vegan yogurt and mayonnaise.
- PLEASE NOTE: The nutrition values don't include the vinegar, salt, and sugar in the potato water as most of that is drained off.