What are patatas bravas?
Patatas bravas (pronounced ‘pat-tat-tas brab-bas’) are Spanish fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce. It sounds simple, but good patatas bravas is not easy to forget. The potatoes are not just potatoes, but crispy, brown cubes and the orange sauce is smoky and deep in taste. Chilli peppers, cayenne peppers and/or hot paprika powder give the sauce its brightness; it is one of the few spicy dishes in the generally mild Spanish cuisine.
The word bravas has different meanings; the dish is therefore called ‘brave potatoes’, but also ‘angry potatoes’ or ‘spicy potatoes’. According to connoisseurs, all these different names apply to this popular tapa (snack). The dish is so popular that even Spaniards would rather not share it, and it is not surprising if you order a larger portion (racion) all to yourself.
The celebrated snack originally comes from Madrid where it was invented in the early 1950s. One of the restaurants in the running to be the original ‘source’ of the dish is restaurant chain Las Bravas in the centre of the city. Here they are so sure of their business that they have even registered their Las Bravas sauce on the official trademark register. If you eat patatas bravas here, you can eat them hot, while standing at a bar table or at the counter. If you prefer to sit down, you won’t have to look for long, because patatas bravas can be found on every tapas card, both in Madrid and (far) beyond.
Did you know?
In Spain, a dish of patatas bravas is unthinkable without a second sauce: garlic sauce (allioli). The sharp garlic counterbalances the sweetly spicy tomato sauce and the sight of the potatoes, buried under two colours of sauce is extra appetising.
How to make patatas bravas?
Firmly boiled potatoes are cut into cubes and fried twice until they are golden brown and crispy.
The potatoes are served with a tomato sauce, made with tomatoes, chilli peppers, onion, (smoked) paprika and/or cayenne pepper, vinegar, sugar and salt. In addition, in some authentic Spanish restaurants you can also expect a garlic mayo, made with garlic, egg, salt and vinegar. The two possibilities in restaurants are sometimes two different tapas on the menu: patatas allioli and patatas bravas. In that case, you could order them both and mix them together!
How to eat
The potatoes are served with tomato sauce and possibly the allioli. Eat them as a snack or as part of a selection of tapas.
Turkish kumpir is a potato dish in which the potato is also buried, both under different sauces and under various toppings of your choice.