Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dum Aloo - baby potatoes in creamy coating

Potatoes were one of those fancy vegetables (roots/tubers/spuds all that & more) growing up. Nammamma got potatoes only when we made bajjis(deep fried) or bondas or once in a while the favorite eerulli-aalugedde huli (Onion-potato sambar, believe me this combination in sambar is heavenly and I have stories to go with it, another time perhaps). Then as her repertoire grew, she made aloo parantha very frequently which used to be melt in the mouth with just the right kind of masala for the stuffing. My sister entered the kitchen and took our potato love a notch higher with her aloo tikkis - I am still on my quest to recreate that magic. Though every time my tikkis taste good, I still feel there is something missing in them, maybe just my akka's hands :-).

Then came the big brother, coming home for his 2 weeks vacations between hectic studying from the confines of his North Indian student life, he was grown up and all wiser for having gone that far from home. He would regale us with the stories from the college, hostel and obviously the food with spuds playing a huge role in the food. Well, he had it almost every meal you see :-). But potatoes grow on you, I haven't seen a person so far that said they didn't like potatoes, sure there are many of us who want to avoid/reduce the consumption because of the carbohydrates and sugar but we still love our tubers.

So this very North Indian dish got added into our family recipes from my brother, he makes some of the killer North Indian gravies I have tasted and his South Indian delicacies are always enhanced with a generous second helping of ghee :-). Either way, we tend to gain including around the waist. I do not claim that I remember the first time he made it at home or that I follow his recipe, but this is how I have reached my formula on the Dum Aloo and it turns out delectable every time and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

After that story of Dum Aloo, now I am onto where I got my recent bounty of baby potatoes. Seattle downtown has a charming, very popular market called Pike Place market in downtown, it is 9 acres in area spreading across multiple floors, spans indoors and outdoors and is surrounded by the beautiful land and waterscape of the Northwest. You will find everything from fresh farm produce to meat to antiques to designer clothes. We love to visit there especially in Spring and Summers, my daughter loves the WA grown juicy peaches and sweet Rainier cherries and I love to buy the fresh veggies. Like anywhere else, we frequent one specific store for all our farm fresh needs, according to DD Sosios is the best fruits stand and I agree with her in addition to the fact that the store helpers are super helpful and they give you ample samples to taste:-). Last week, in addition to a bunch of fruits we ended up bringing home a bagful of baby potatoes. They looked so adorable and I didn't have the heart to cut them into pieces or anyway butcher them, so they went straight into creamy sauce and we had the delicious Dum Aloo.

You can make Dum Aloo with bigger potatoes cut into pieces but traditionally and tastewise try and use the baby potatoes. It does make a difference.
What do you need to make Dum Aloo? 
12-14 baby potatoes
1 small red onion or shallot - roughly chopped
2 medium tomatoes - roughly chopped
10 cashew nuts (you can replace with almonds with a slight difference in the texture)
1X1 inch piece fresh ginger - chopped fine
1 clove of garlic (increase if you like garlic or omit completely) - crushed slightly
2 Tblsp yogurt
1 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tblsp oil
1 Tsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
1/2 cup water
1 Tblsp finely chopped cilantro

Dry masala ingredients: 
2 dry chilies
1/2 Tsp black pepper corns
1 Tsp saunf
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tblsp coriander seeds
2 - 1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 star anise
How do you make Dum Aloo?
  • Wash and scrub the potatoes clesn, poke a fork randomly a couple of times in each potato.
  • Put the potatoes in a microwave safe bowl, fill it with water till the potatoes are completely merged. 
  • Microwave until the potatoes are just tender, my MW takes 8 minutes. 
  • Take the potatoes out of the hot water and let them cool down a little, peel off the skin. 
  • Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, add all the ingredients listed under 'dry masala ingredients' and roast them for 2-3 minutes until you get a nice aroma, take them off the pan and let cool. 
  • Roast cashew nuts in the same pan for 2-3 minutes until they turn crisp and light pink in color, keep aside to cool.
  • Add a Tblsp of oil to the same pan, add ginger, garlic fry for a minte, add chopped onions and let them sweat for a minute, add tomato pieces and continue to cook until it turns soft and mushy. Switch off and let cool. 
  • Make a dry powder of all the roasted dry ingredients, add cashew nuts to the same mixie jar and blend it into a fine powder.
  • Add the fried ginger-garlic-onion-tomato into the mixie and blend into a smooth paste, add a couple spoons of water of needed.
  • Heat the remaining Tblsp of oil and add the ground masala paste into it along with salt, 1/2 cup water and let it come to a slow boil, test for taste and adjust if needed. It needs to be slightly strong on spices as potatoes will absorb the flavors.
  • Add the prepared potatoes, crushed kasoori methi and yogurt and let it boil for another 10 minutes on low heat. Switch off, top it with finely chopped cilantro and serve with rotis or jeera rice.
  • Pricking potatoes with a fork helps it to absorb the masala flavors better.
  • Take the potatoes out of the boiling water as soon as done to arrest further cooking, you want the potatoes to be still firm and holding shape when it goes into the masala.
  • You can add 1/2 Tsp of amchoor powder for a tangy taste while boiling the masala, I used a day old yogurt and hence didn't add the powder.
  • I do not add any garam masala powder to this recipe, if you need to adjust the spice level make use of the store bought powders towards the end.
  • Unlike my other North Indian curries, I do not blanch tomatoes,onions or cashews. The toasted flavor perfectly complements the baby potatoes in taste. 


Prathibha said...

Dum aloo is infact my fav too..ur brother story reminds me my bro,especially his south Indian food wid an extra touch of ghee....I have even another version of Dum alu chutney waale which is a nice variation and also tastes gr8..if u r interested try that..

kitchen queen said...

Wow yum yum and lip smacking dum aloo curry.

Tina said...

Flavourful and delicious..

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Nice story behind the dum aloo....Lovely recipe..especially the spice mix

Paaka Shaale said...

Just loved this nagashree!! The gravy looks very tempting. Wishing you a very Happy Varamahalakshmi Habba

Daksha said...

Dam aloo!! Looks so perfect and delicious.......

Kannada Cuisine said...

Fell in love with dun aloo during my north Indian hostel life..just like your bro