Alu’r dom is the Bengali avatar of the popular Indian dish of spicy curried potatoes, commonly known as ‘aloo dum’ or ‘dum aloo’ (Kashmiri aloo dum is perhaps its most famous variant). Prepared in Bengal during the winter months using the newly harvested baby potatoes or ‘notun alu’, alu’r dom is best enjoyed with luchi, koraishuti’r kochuri, polao, fried rice, or porota. This simple recipe is for the niramish version (without garlic or onions).
The key to a good alu’r dom is perfectly tender and uniformly salted potatoes? In this recipe, the baby potatoes are twice-boiled—first in heavily salted water (with skin on) and then again in the curry—for a total of nearly one hour. ‘Notun alu’ are notorious in that they don’t allow salt and spices to penetrate easily. They must, therefore, be cooked longer than one would normally cook potatoes.
This is not a strictly traditional version of the Bengali niramish alu’r dom, but our take on this classic and well-loved recipe. It produces juicy alu’r dom with a rich, dry gravy, ready to be mopped up with a piece of light, fluffy luchi.
- 700 g new baby potatoes (notun alu)
- 50 g peas (blanched)
- 30 g mustard oil
- 2 pcs dried red chillies
- 2 pcs bay leaves
- 3 pcs cloves
- 2 pcs cardamom
- 1 pc cinnamon
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
- ¼ tsp beetnoon (black salt)
- 15 g ginger paste
- 6 g green chilli paste
- 50 g yoghurt
- 20 g tomato ketchup
- 20 g cashewnuts (ground)
- ½ tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 45 g total salt
- 18 g sugar
- ¼ tsp bengali garam masala powder
- 5 g ghee
- 400 g hot water (for the gravy)
- Place the baby potatoes in a saucepan or boiling pot along with 30 g salt and 1 litre water. Boil the potatoes until tender. This should take about 30 minutes. Boiling the potatoes in heavily salted water ensures that they are uniformly seasoned. Besides, it also causes the potatoes to lose water, because of osmosis, improving their texture.
- Once the potatoes are tender, drain the water and peel them immediately. Coat with 10 g of salt while the potatoes are still hot. This will help in further absorption of salt.
- Before you begin make a paste of cumin powder, coriander powder, amchur, black salt, ginger paste, and 25 g water, and keep at the ready.
- Heat 30 g mustard oil in a pan. Temper it with dried red chillies, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and hing. Allow the hing to fry for about 10 seconds before adding turmeric powder and kashmiri red chilli powder. Fry for 20 seconds. We would normally add turmeric and red chilli to the paste we made earlier, but for this dish, frying them directly in oil will lend the gravy a rich red colour. However, dry spices are prone to getting burnt in oil, so be very careful and keep the heat low.
- Next, stir in the spice paste. Cook until the smell of raw spices is gone and they have started to release oil. This should take about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the yoghurt until it is lump-free. Add it to the pan, stirring vigorously to prevent it from splitting. Cook off the raw yoghurt for a couple of minutes before stirring in the ketchup.
- Now add the boiled and salted potatoes, and fold them in. Sauté them with the spices for about 4 minutes. We’ve chosen not to fry the potatoes before adding them, as boiling them directly in the curry leads to juicier potatoes.
- Add the remaining salt (5 g) and all of the sugar to the pan, along with 400 g of hot water. This will form the gravy. Crumble kasuri methi and add that to the pan too. Cover and allow the potatoes to simmer in the curry for about 20 minutes until the gravy has reduced and the potatoes are juicy and tender. Stir regularly so the bottom doesn’t catch.
- Once the gravy has reduced, add the ground cashew and blanched peas. Cook for a minute before garnishing with ghee and garam masala. Turn off heat, cover, and allow alu’r dom to rest for 2 minutes before serving.