If there was one vegetable you could vote to be the most useful of the lot, I would say potato. We Indian’s did not invent it, but we Indian’s surely know how to make full use of potatoes, be it bhaji, sabzi, paratha, accompanied in Chicken or Mutton curry or even with cauliflower and best of all a spicy, flavour ful dish on it’s own Aloo Dum. Even Wikipedia has directions to make Aloo Dum, no kidding.
“Dum Aloo belongs to, specifically, Kashmiri cuisine. The potatoes, usually smaller ones, are first deep fried, the cooked slowly at low flame in a gravy with spices. Dum Aloo is a popular recipe cooked throughout .”
The Bengali version has a rather interesting story. In 1784 Oudh was struck by a famine and in an attempt to feed the teaming poor, philanthropist Nawab Asaf -ud -Daulah created employment with masonry work at the ” Barra Immambara”. There, to cook and serve warm food to the workers, he employed the “Nanbais” ( Bazaar cooks) . They found a way to go about this difficult task. They resorted to an ancient recipe found in “Ain-i-Akbari” where beef was stewed overnight in a Cauldron or a big deep pot, basically the technique of “Dum Pukht”. Turnip, which the Kashmiris had introduced in Oudh ,replaced the beef. This way the hungry workers could be fed at a moment’s notice with warm food . After the British captured Oudh in 1856, Waji Ali Shah moved to Calcutta along with the culinary treasure of his “Nanbais”
Potato, was not on the high priority list of vegetables for the Bengalis, it still really is not. Warren Hastings , the Governor general in 1790, received a basket of potatoes as a novelty gift from the Dutch , who took the credit of introducing potatoes to Bengal. The Story goes that Lord Amherst , had potatoes planted in the “Park of Barrackpore”. Bengalis took to the root vegetable with much enthusiasm. The starchy softness of the potatoes worked well as a perfect contrast to sharp taste of mustard seeds and cumin used in Bengali cooking. The Bengali aristocracy adopted “potato” as symbol of superiority and westernized cuisine. By 1860, it was the main ingredient in the region’s cooking. Potato slowly started traveling inland from Bengal.
The “Nanbais” recreated their ” Dum Pukht” on the western fringes of the “Hugli” using simpler methods . Instead of cooking over night, they incorporated the Bengali technique of dry steaming . Spices were replaced, dry ginger and fennel powder gave way to roasted cumin and potato replaced turnips and thus the “Aloor Dom” was born.
This particular recipe was obtained from a blogger friend and a fantastic cook, Pritha Sen. She shares this simple yet mouthwatering recipe from the streets of Kolkata.
Aloo Dum has many variations but this one would remind you Vivekananda park, Lake Kali Bari road where the roadside stalls would come up with some gorgeous fiery dish that leaves you all teary not to mention pining for water on one hand and asking form seconds on the other.
- 250 gm Boil baby potatoes with a little salt firm and peel and keep aside
- Methi seeds- 1 teaspoon
- Tomatoes- 2 large chopped
- ginger- crushed 1 table spoon
- Garlic – crushed 1 table spoon
- Turmeric- 1/2 teaspoon
- chilly powder- 1.5 teaspoon
- Chettinad Masala- if you do not have it garam masala
- Coriander powder- 1teaspoon
- fried cumin powder- 1 teaspoon
- oil- 3 table spoon
- salt as per taste
- coriander leaves
Boil and peel the potatoes, make sure you add salt to the water, I like boiling my potatoes in a pan rather than a pressure cooker. Next in a wok or kadhai heat hoil once it is ready add the methi seeds, as they start sizzling, nest add the ginger garlic crush and saaute till the raw smell is gone. Now add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till it is all pulpy and mushy. next here I added 3 teaspoons of Chettinad masala ( mine is home made) in case you do not have it add garam masala 1 teaspoon, next add the turmeric and red chilly powder, followed by the coriander powder. Once the oil starts to separate from the masala add the potatoes. once they are well coated with the masala and there is a thick trail of gravy, the aloo dum is ready. Serve with roti, puri/ luchi or even paratha.
For the Chettinad Masala
- 10 Dry chilly
- 1 Cardamom
- 2 tsp Poppy seeds
- 3 Cloves
- 2 Cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp Roasted Chanadal
- 2 tsp Coriander seeds
- Heat a frying pan without oil. Next in low flame , fry cardamom, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves ,roasted chana dal. After roast remove these items from pan.Then fry dry chili till get a dark color Only after turn off the flame add poppy seeds. Grind well all these fried items together.