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Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Dum Aloo (Infused Baby Potatoes in Curry)

Recipe

By popular demand from many readers, below is a reprint of Mama’s Dum Aloo recipe. It is a dish that is often made due to its simplicity but also the amazing aroma and taste that it adds to otherwise common potatoes when other items are also served. It is reprinted with some additional information and directions.

This is a traditional Kashmiri Pandit dish which has been brought down to the plains of North India where it has become a tasty comfort food which is easy to make, though not made too often. It can be eaten with naan, chapatti (flat bread) or rice or together with some dahi (yogurt) or dal (lentils).

Dum means to cook under pressure or to infuse the potatoes with the ingredients in the curry. This dish can be made with a lot of curry, or just a little bit, as desired. There are several ways to make dum aloo and each region adds its own spices and variations, like the stuffed potatoes of the Kashmiri style, or the Amritsari style with mustard seed oil or the Bengali style.

The origin of potatoes is believed to be in what is now southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia about 7,000 to 10,000 years ago. Although indigenous in the Andes, potatoes were introduced to Europe in the second half of the 16th century by the Spanish. There are now 5,000 different types of potatoes, but 99% of those now cultivated come from varieties that originated in south-central Chile. As of 2014, China and India produce 37% of the world’s potatoes.

Raw potatoes are 79% water, 17% carbohydrates (88% of which is starch) and 2% protein and are a rich source of vitamin B6 (23%) and vitamin C (24%). They are also high on the glycemic index which can vary considerably depending on type such as red, russet or white; origin, preparation methods (whether eaten hot or cold, mashed or cubed or consumed whole), and with what it is consumed (addition of various toppings).

This recipe is the one my family has made for generations when we had our own farmlands in Lyallpur. It is a simple and inexpensive recipe that comes in handy when you want to come up with a tasty dish fast. The secret to my recipe is NOT to stir the ingredients while they are cooking so that the curry taste infuses properly into the potatoes. For best results use new baby white potatoes; avoid any variety that will crumble in the curry. Most importantly, use a pot that has a heavy pot (not a light one) so that the potatoes will not stick and burn.

 

Ingredients:
• 500gm chotte aloo (new small baby potatoes)
• 1 cup saddi dahin(plain yogurt)
• 2 medium pyaaz (onion)
• 2 cloves of lassan (garlic)
• 1 clump of adrak (ginger)
• 1 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
• Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric powder), garam masala

 

Directions:
1. Wash the baby potatoes and set them aside. Do not peel them.
2. Peel the onions and chop into small pieces. Peel and cut the ginger and garlic cloves into small pieces.
3. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and place the onions, ginger and garlic in it and do NOT stir.
4. Place the whole baby potatoes in the pot and pour the yogurt over them. Sprinkle the turmeric, salt and pepper over the yogurt and cover the pot with a tight lid. There is no need to add any water as the potatoes must cook in their own steam. Do not open the lid often and do not stir with a ladle either.
5. After 10 minutes, reduce the flame to simmer. Open the lid and poke the potatoes with a knife to see if they are tender.
6. If the potatoes are tender, then you can stir gently with a ladle making sure not to break the potatoes.
7. Sprinkle with garam masala. Serve with rice or hot chapattis.

 

MAMA’S TIP OF THE WEEK: FOR A FRESH SMELLING FRIDGE, LEAVE A HALF CUT LEMON IN A CUP

Most people have left overs that they place in the fridge for another day – and sometimes also forget them for days on end only to throw them away later! Usually all the different aromas mix together and some even infuse themselves into others. This is especially true if the leftovers are not covered in tightly closed lids or if someone has left cut onions, garlic or other spices in an open container.  Sometimes vegetables in the crisper or even fruits and breads can be the source of the aroma.

Though many have learned to leave an open box baking soda in the fridge to get rid of these odors, there is a simpler, less expensive way. Just cut a lemon in halves and leave them in an open container. The lemon will absorb the odors, and when it starts to dry up, simply throw the pieces away and replace them with new ones.

 

mamas recipe inside3
Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes

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