Dum Aloo | Spicy Whole Baby Potatoes Vegetable from India
When baby red potato globes grace my supermarket bins in large mounds, it invariably means that Dum Aloo is about to make an appearance on the dinner or brunch table.
Dum Aloo is yet another example of how simple kitchen staples from Kashmir and North-India have been mostly over-done, over-spiced and over-creamed to point beyond recognition.
It is also the reason why I hold traditional cooks like my mother, my mother-in-law and my grand-mother who hold on to authentic recipes with hoops of steel in such esteem and reverence. I think they represent a dying breed - the last of the stalwarts who continue to carry forward recipes of their mothers and grandmothers resolute against tv-chef-doms that seems to be changing the face of traditional Indian cuisine into cream based-tomato paste versions of everything.
It therefore is startling when at a dinner party the one thing that gets rave reviews and numerous recipe requests are these potatoes from my mother-in-law's kitchen. So simple is this recipe that when I recite it in person, it is looked upon with disbelief.
A sense of - "how is it possible, that some thing so simple tastes this good? surely she's holding out on us".
Except that I am not. It far more difficult to cook simply, to be simple and there-in lies true art.
Dum Aloo ~ Simply Spiced Baby Potatoes from India
2 lbs baby red potatoes,
2 large, ripe red tomatoes, water to parboil potatoes with 1/2 tbs salt
2 tbs clarified butter (ghee)
1-1/2 inch fresh ginger root.
1 large cinnamon stick
4 whole cardamom pods
1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder (available at Indian-Pakistani grocery stores)
4 whole dried red chillies
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4-1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp sugar
Garnish : 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves & a drizzle of more ghee if desired.
Tomatoes: Cut a cross on the top of each tomato. Place in a microwave safe bowl with lid. Add 2 tbs water. Cover with the lid leaving a slight air-gap. Microwave for 2 minutes to soften. Puree the tomatoes in a blender till smooth and fine.
Potatoes: Bring a large pot with 8-10 cups of water & salt to boil. Add the potatoes and cover with a lid.
Par-boil on medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes till the potatoes can be pierced with a knife but are not mushy and still retain their shape. Drain the potatoes in a sieve.
Ginger paste: In a small blender or food processor capable of making fine pastes, add roughly chopped ginger root (no need to peel) and 2 tbs water. Blend. Add 1 tbs water more if needed to break down any chunks and blend to a fine paste.
In a large sauté pan, on medium heat, add the ghee & heat for a few seconds. Add the asafoetida powder, cumin seeds, cardamom pods and whole red chillies.
As soon as the cumin seeds crackle, add the ginger paste and sauté for about a minute. Add the tomato puree & spice blend and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and sauté for a few minutes till the masalas completely coats the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup water, stir and cover the pan with a lid.
Simmer for about 5-10 minutes till the potatoes have completely softened and infused with flavor.
Cook's Note: Bite through a potato to make sure that the potatoes have cooked all the way and does not have a hard core. Taste and adjust seasonings. Increase the heat to medium high and saute the potatoes for a final 2-3 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves, drizzle with 1 tsp more ghee and serve hot with pooris, rotis or parathas. Whole wheat pita breads will also do as a last resort.
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