Kashmiri Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo literally means “slow-cooked potatoes”. In this case it could be called “thrice cooked potatoes” because they’re boiled, then fried, then simmered in gravy.  Done right, the potatoes are soft and juicy without feeling mushy, and covered in an aromatic and savory gravy.  It’s actually a lot easier than this sounds ~ mostly it’s just a pain in the butt, but well worth the effort (youngest asked to be told when  I publish this).  Amusingly one can also search for “dum olav” which is somewhat fitting.  By this I mean that’s how I found the dish.

There are basically two versions of this out there ~ Kashmiri like this, and “restaurant style” which uses 2-3 times as much yogurt (among other things). I went with this style partially because it’s probably more traditional and partly because I just didn’t want something smothered in yogurt.

I’ve tooled this recipe to be a single-pot built around a karahi.  If you’re new here, a karahi (also called a kadai) is sort of an Indian subcontinent wok in shape, but not as fussy as a Chinese one. I use mine for nearly all my meals because it’s so versatile. But, the downside today is that it involves moving the potatoes back and forth like a spuddy hokey pokey.

Unfortunately this dish does require some fairly uncommon ingredients that can’t be substituted. If you have a local Indian store they’ll carry them, and barring that easy enough to get off Amazon.

Cooking time: allow around 2 hours
Serves 4-5

White bowl with potatoes in a red sauce

Shopping List:

  • 1.5 lbs (500-600g) baby potatoes
  • Mustard Oil*
  • Kashmiri chili powder
  • Hing (Asafoetida)**
  • Full-fat Yogurt
  • Cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Fennel
  • Ginger Powder
  • 1″ Cinnamon stick

*  There are two kinds of mustard oil. One says “not for internal use” and the other has a RDA table. Not sure there’s a difference but it’s best to play it safe.
** Hing is a resin that comes from the celery family, although it tastes nothing like it. But its very rich and a little goes a long way. I highly recommend not omitting it.

First things first:

Set aside 1tbsp chili powder.
Whisk 1/2 cup yogurt
Separately combine the other dry spices in a bowl:

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp fennel powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder

Note: some recipes call for peeling the potatoes, but if you’re using baby ones the skin is way too thin and  what’s left of the potatoes will fall apart.

To begin: Add around 4 cups of water to the karahi and bring it to a boil. Add the potatoes and keep boiling until they’re just soft when poked with a toothpick (it should be apparent).  Figure 15-20 minutes, possibly longer.

Remove the potatoes and rinse them under cold water until cool. It’s called parboiling if that matters.  Then with a toothpick pierce the potato skin multiple times to about a 1/8″ depth. Piercing deeper risks breaking up the potato.  At the same time, dry out the pan with a towel.

Turn the heat down to medium, then add the 1 tbsp chili powder, followed by 4 tbsp mustard  oil.  Tip the potatoes back in and fry until they’re golden brown. This should take around ten minutes.

Remove the potatoes (again!) and whisk in the 1/2 cup yogurt followed by 2 cups of water.  Continue whisking for two minutes, then add the dry spices. Bring back to a simmer and add the potatoes back. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

To serve, divy the potatoes into bowls and ladle the gravy over top. Be generous with the gravy.  It can also be paired with something like roti to sop up the juices