Spiced Grated Kūmara / Courtney Petley

Photographed by Josh Griggs

I love breakfasts and breakfast time. Breakfast time is one of the loveliest parts of my day. I love the morning calm and the quiet, I love opening the doors and letting the morning sun and the fresh air roll into the house, I love the lounging, I love having incense burning, and I love taking my time. I work for myself most days, and my studio is under my house so its nice to not have to rush out, or go too far after eating. When I have to be up and out early for my part time job, I will always allow myself a good half an hour to sit and eat breakfast and drink my coffee. 

Growing up we always had a family breakfast on a Sunday morning, and 90% of the time it was pancakes with bacon, bananas, and maple syrup. My Mum would be up first spending a good hour or so behind the stove, in her robe, making enough pancakes for the five of us. It was such a nice, comforting routine, there was nothing like waking up to the smell of buttery pancakes, and the prospect of starting the day around the table together - usually fighting for the best bits of bacon. If I stayed out at a friends house on a Saturday, there was alway a pang of regret that I would miss out on breakfast and have to wait another whole week.

We have a few nice breakfast traditions at home, and they mostly revolve around pancakes. Every Christmas morning, and ONLY on Christmas morning, Mum will make her infamous cherry pancakes. Thin crepe like pancakes, covered with a thick homemade cherry sauce, and a side of bacon sprinkled and grilled with brown sugar. The sugar and the bacon caramelise like nothing else on this earth, and somehow we can all wait out the full year for the next hit of this rich goodness. 

I started making this grated Kūmara years ago when I reluctantly put a stop to my gluten intake. It seemed a good alternative to have sitting under my eggs, and the purple Kūmara I buy from the Grey Lynn Farmers Market are the perfect size for one serve. However, I can't take all the credit, I am pretty sure it was my friend and flatmate at the time, Reuben, who started making this too and began adding the spices. As much as i'd love to say it was all me. Maybe we just agree to disagree.

The grated Kūmara works anytime of the day, and really comes alive with a crunchy salad, lots of herbs, salted toasted nuts, and some warm, blistered, acidic tomatoes.


Spiced Grated Kūmara

This spice mix has been taken from a few of my favourite Ottolenghi recipes, the Mejadra and the Chermoula Aubergine, both out of Jerusalem. 

This recipe will serve three people - just increase the spices, and add another Kūmara and more eggs if you want to feed more friends. My teaspoons are usually quite heaped and generous, I like this kūmara really fragrant and spicy.


  • 3 purple Kūmara
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a really, really good pouring of cooking/olive oil
  • 6-7 eggs, depending on your hunger
  • milk or cream (optional)
  • butter
  • salad greens and anything else you want to put in your salad - cucumber, capsicum, fresh herbs, toasted salted nuts and seeds, yeast flakes, etc
  • juice of half a lemon
  • cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to finish


  • scrub the kūmara with a cloth or a veggie brush and then grate.
  • mix all the spices together, ex. the cumin and coriander seeds, in a tiny bowl so they can go into the pan at the same time. 
  • crack all your eggs into a bowl and mix with milk or cream and a good amount of pepper
  • make your salad, using whatever you have, salad greens, herbs, cucumber, toasted almonds, etc. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.


1. Heat your pan on a medium heat

2. Once the pan has some heat to it, add the cumin and coriander seeds. Toast the seeds until the air becomes fragrant - a few minutes or so.

3. Add the tiny bowl of ground spices, chilli flakes and salt to the pan, and again, warming until fragrant. Tossing the pan occasionally so the spices don't burn.

4. Pour a generous amount of oil into the pan, for three kūmara I probably use close to a 1/4 cup, maybe a bit more.


5. Once the oil has some heat to it, add in the grated kūmara and mix well until all the bits are covered with the oil and spices.

6. I like to let the kūmara just sit in the pan, moving around only occasionally so the Kūmara and the very bottom of the pan can get crispy and crunchy in parts - like the crispy outer of a potato rosti.

7. I fry the kūmara for maybe 10 minutes - you will be able to taste when its ready. While it cooks sometimes I add a splash of boiling water if it looks like the Kūmara is drying out, or some more oil for more crunch, and more salt if needed.

8. While the kūmara is cooking away, make the eggs.

9. Heat another pan to a medium to high heat.

10. Once hot, add the good chunk of butter to the pan, when the butter is sizzling, add the eggs. Move the eggs gently and occasionally around the pan, to keep them creamy, and so they don't split from over stirring. I keep the eggs on the heat until they are about 85-90% cooked, as they will finish cooking off the heat and in the pan. 

11. Set eggs aside to finish cooking off the heat, and divide the kūmara into bowls.

12. Making the most of the ex. kūmara pan with all its heat and spice residue, return empty pan to high heat, and drizzle with oil.

13. Once the pan is hot, throw in your cherry tomatoes with a good pinch of salt. Please be careful because the piping hot tomatoes will spit and sizzle, an apron is good at this point too.

14. Cook until the tomatoes are split and blistered.

15. Add everything to the bowls, finish with salt and pepper, a drizzle of good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and eat. Sometimes I like to add a chutney, or a tahini sauce.