Dum aloo is an Indian potato curry, which has assimilated into our Malaysian culinary culture. The allure of dum aloo lies in the plethora of spices that transform the potatoes into a melting pot of flavors.
They are first parboiled, deep-fry, and then simmer in a mixture of spices. You will be greeted by a symphony of aroma wafting into your nose. Eventually, the potatoes will absorb all the flavor and enrobed into the thick spice-infused gravy.
Dum aloo is ideally served with jeera rice, naan, or ant rotis.
I am intensely passionate about Indian cuisine, and I want to show you how I prepare dum aloo in this article.
Let’s get into the details right in.
How to make dum aloo
I have divided the whole process into four steps. If you think it involves too much work, you can simplify the first step by only boiling the potatoes and omit the deep-frying part. You can also skip step two if you decided to use all the store-bought spices instead of the ground the whole spices yourself.
1. Boil and fry the potatoes
It is most suitable to use small (baby) potatoes weighing about 50g/2oz to prepare dum aloo since it takes a shorter time to cook and absorb more flavor from the gravy.
Boil the potatoes
- Wash the potatoes and put them in a pot of boiling water sufficient to submerge them.
- Boil the potatoes until they are slightly soft, and the skin can be peeled easily. The duration varies as it depends on the heat and the size of the potatoes. For your reference, I boiled them for ten minutes over medium heat, uncovered. You can fish out one potato, try peeling the skin to decide whether you need to boil further at the 10th minute.
- Once it is soft enough, remove the potatoes and cool by soaking in cold water. Now you can easily peel off the skin by hand.
- Let them sit in a colander to drain off the excess water.
- Poke the potatoes with toothpicks or fork all over to make multiple tiny holes. The goal is to let the spices’ flavor quickly infuse while cooking with the gravy later.
Deep-fry or pan-fry the potatoes
- Now you have the options to deep-fry, pan-fry or cook the potatoes with the spices directly. It is common practice to deep-fry the potatoes in the restaurant. Deep-frying creates additional flavor through the Maillard reaction, which only happens at a temperature above boiling water. Deep-frying has the advantage of browning the potatoes evenly and completes a large batch quickly. On the flip side, it will absorb more oil, which is not ideal for health.
- Pan-frying is the more practical alternative for home cooks. It requires less oil and is healthier. The downside is uneven browning, but the difference in the final result is insignificant. You can view the embedded video that I pan-fry the potatoes in this recipe.
- The last option is to skip the frying and cook the potatoes directly with the onion paste and spices. It may have less flavor but is quicker and healthier.
2. Toast and ground the spices
The flavor of dum aloo depends heavily on the spices. Hence, I ground most of the essential spices myself. You can consider simplifying the process by using all the store-bought ground spices. Please buy the ground spices in small quantities with a long expiry date.
Here are the steps :
- Heat a small pan over medium heat.
- Place all the whole spice (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon bark) in the frying pan, without oil.
- Gently toast the spices by moving them regularly in the pan.
- When you smell the aroma rising from the pan (may take in a minute), remove and let it cool.
- Place the spices in a grinder, ground them finely.
Note: Since it is not practical to get all the whole spices, I still use certain ready-made ground spices – hing, Kashmiri chili powder, black pepper, turmeric powder, and garam masala. The point is if you want to get the best result (dum aloo and other curries), always use as many fresh, whole spices as possible.
3. Prepare the onion paste
Now we prepare the ‘body’ of the gravy, consisting mainly of onion and tomato.
Traditionally, mustard oil is used to saute the onions. It has a strong aroma with a bright yellow, but other oil can be used, especially if you do not like mustard oil’s rich aroma. Furthermore, it may not be available in certain places.
Here are the steps :
- Heat the oil in the pan.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute over low heat until fragrant.
- Next, add some coarsely chopped onions. Saute it for a few minutes until it becomes soft and translucent.
- Now add the cashews and the chopped tomatoes. Continue stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the blender and process it until it becomes a smooth paste. You may add some water if the mix is too dry to blend.
Ginger-garlic paste. You can make the ginger-garlic paste by blending an equal amount of ginger and garlic with a little oil to facilitate the process. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, which is ideal if you use it often. There is also ready-made ginger-garlic paste sold in the Asian grocery store. You can substitute it with an equal amount of finely chopped ginger and garlic.
4. Dum cook the potatoes
Now it comes to the last steps- dum cook the potatoes.
What is dum cook?
Dum cook is the traditional method to slow cook the ingredients in a sealed, heavy bottom pot (handi) for hours. The pot is sealed with roti dough, or cloth the trap the steam inside until the ingredients become tender. This method helps to infuse the flavor into the meat and potatoes in this recipe.
I use a heavy bottom pan with a tight lid since I don’t have the handi.
Here are the steps:
- Add some cumin seeds into the hot oil in a pan.
- When the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the bay leaves, hing, and the Kashmiri chili powder.
- Once they turn aromatic, mix them with the onion paste and the freshly ground spices we prepared earlier.
- Add the yogurt and wait until it returns to a boil.
- Adjust the flavor with salt, the color with some turmeric powder, and Kashmiri chili powder. You also need some garam masala for extra flavor and some sugar to counter the yogurt’s sourness.
- Cook for a short while until the oil separates.
- Return the potatoes to the pan. Add some water if it is too thick.
- Cover the pan with a tightly fitted lid. Open the lid once or twice to turn the potatoes to ensure they are evenly cooked. It will take roughly fifteen minutes to cook them until soft.
- Lastly, stir in some kasuri methi and chopped coriander leaves to the gravy. Dish out and serve.
Other related recipes
Here are some of my related recipes if you are a fan of the hunger-inducing aroma and flavor of Indian food.
Dal tadka is a favorite Indian food for all Malaysians, irrespective of race and culture. It is prepared with lentils and best to serve with any flatbreads.
Cabbage thoran is stir-fry cabbage with turmeric powder, plus cumin seeds, dried chili, and curry leaves. My meal with curry is not complete without this side dish.
Chapati is the easiest roti to make, which is a staple for many Indian families. You can eat it with dum aloo instead of rice.
Ingredients A (potatoes)
- 600g baby potatoes
- Sufficient water to boil the potatoes
Ingredients B (whole spices)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 green cardamons
- 3 cloves
- 1 inch length cinnamon (about three grams)
Ingredients C (onion paste)
Ingredients D (ground spices and herbs)
Ingredients E (final adjustment of the flavor)
- Wash the potatoes, then boil in water for 10 minutes or until the skin can easily be peel off.
- Peel off the skin of the potatoes.
- Prick the potatoes with toothpicks all over.
- Pan-fry the potatoes in shallow oil until golden.
- Heat B in a small pan over low heat until aromatic. Ground the spices with a spice grinder.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Add the ginger-garlic paste, followed by the onion. When the onions become translucent, add the tomatoes and cashews. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Blend the mixture with an electric blender to become a paste.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Slow dry ingredients D until fragrant.
- Return the onion paste, ground spices, add the yogurt to the pan.
- Add the potatoes and dum cook for 15 minutes or until soft. Add water if necessary.
- Season with salt, garam masala, sugar.
- Sprinkle some chopped coriander and kasuri methi. Serve.
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Great Bazaar Swad Cumin Seeds, 7 Ounce
MICHELANGELO Nonstick Frying Pan Stone with Ultra Nonstick Granite Coating, 10 Inch Frying Pan with Lid, Nonstick Skillet Pfoa Free, Non toxic Rock Pan, Induction Compatible -10 inch
Asian Kitchen Ginger-Garlic Cooking Paste 26.5oz (750g) ~ Vegan | Glass Jar | Gluten Free | NON-GMO | No Colors | Indian Origin
Mashal Kashmiri Chili Powder 7 oz (200 gm)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 321mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 12/20/2020