Punjabi Dum Aloo – baby potatoes cooked in a spicy curry made with yogurt and a touch of cream.
This is a popular North Indian recipe and one that was made very frequently in my house.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Let’s talk about all that goes in this recipe!
Baby potatoes: obviously these are the main ingredient for Dum Aloo. I like to go for potatoes which are between 35 to 40 grams in weight.
Larger than those are probably too big for dum aloo. Also, do not use fingerling potatoes here. I mean you can use them but they are not traditionally used in the recipe.
Some people also make dum aloo by using medium size potatoes and cutting each into quarters.
The baby potatoes are first boiled and then fried. You can either deep fry them or pan fry them (like me).
Yogurt: So, yogurt forms the base of this curry. I used whole milk plain yogurt. You can use low fat yogurt too, should work.
Whenever using yogurt in large amount in a curry, there’s always a possibility for it to curdle.
To make sure it doesn’t happen, have the yogurt at room temperature before adding to the pan. Also whisk the yogurt before adding and while adding the yogurt, remove pan from heat and whisk continuously until all the yogurt is combined.
These steps will ensure that the yogurt does not curdle when added to the curry.
Spices: I roast some spices like coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and then grind them using a spice grinder and then add to the recipe. The freshly ground spices give the curry a lot of flavor.
Cashews & Cream: To impart that creaminess and richness to the gravy, I have used cashews and a bit of cream.
These ingredients also impart a sweet touch to the curry. If you don’t have cream, you can skip it. Probably use 5 more cashews then.
Cilantro & Kasuri methi: these two ingredients are used in the end as garnishes.
They impart a nice aroma to the curry, so do not skip on these.
Tips to make Good Dum Aloo
Use mustard oil: for that punjabi style dum aloo, it’s a good idea to use mustard oil to cook the curry.
You can use any other oil, but mustard oil has a flavor of it’s own and that really elevates the final flavor of the curry. Do try and notice the difference.
Use freshly ground spices: whenever you use freshly ground spices, it definitely makes a difference to the final taste.
It hardly takes 2 minutes to roast the spices and then grind them to a powder. I always use a spice grinder to grind fresh spices.
Do not over-boil the potatoes: so this is a problem I used to face when I would boil the potatoes in my regular stove-top pressure cooker. I would always end up over-boiling the potatoes.
They need to be just boiled to the point where the skin comes off easily. I now boil them in a pan and they come out perfect every time for this recipe.
Please see instructions below on how to boil them just right for this dum aloo recipe.
Fry the potatoes before adding to the curry: pan frying (or you can deep fry) the potatoes once they are boiled and then adding them to the curry makes it more flavorful.
You can add the boiled potatoes directly to the curry if you want to cut down the calories, but if you can, please pan fry them. I promise the results will be better.
Finish with cream and sugar: since the recipe uses lot of spices and yogurt, the cream and sugar in the end help in balancing the flavors.
It’s not a lot, just 1 teaspoon of sugar and couple of tablespoons of cream but it really helps in bringing the flavors together.
You can serve it with either of those or with any bread of choice.
1- Start by boiling the potatoes. Place a pot of water on medium-high heat. Once it heats up a bit, add the potatoes to it and let the water come to a boil.
2- When the water comes to a full boil (it will take some time), turn off heat, cover the pan with a plate and let it remain like that for 15 minutes.
This will cook the potatoes just right and they will not be over-cooked.
3- Then drain using a strainer and wash the potatoes under cold water. Peel the potatoes, the skin will come off easily.
4- Use a toothpick to prick the potatoes all over, do this with all the potatoes and then set them aside.
5- Now let’s roast and grind the spices. Place the whole spices- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, 4 green cardamoms, 2 cloves and 1-inch cinnamon stick into a small pan on medium heat.
Roast the spices for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant, be careful not to burn them.
6- Then let them cool down a bit and then transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
7- Heat 2 teaspoons mustard oil in a pan (make sure mustard oil is well heated before adding anything to it else it will have the raw taste). Once hot, add ginger, garlic and green chili and cook for 1 minute.
8- Then add the onions and cashews and cook for 3 minutes until onions soften.
9- Remove pan from heat, transfer mixture to a blender.
10- And blend to a fine paste. Set it aside.
11- Now heat 4 tablespoons of mustard oil in a kadai/work on medium heat (again make sure mustard oil is really hot before you add anything to it else it will have the raw smell). Add the boiled potatoes and fry them until golden brown from both sides.
12- Once golden brown from both sides, remove the fried potatoes on a plate. Once they cool down a little, prick them again with toothpick.
13- To the same oil, now add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 bay leaf. Saute few seconds and then add 1/2 teaspoon hing.
14- Then add 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder and fry for few seconds so that it gets a nice red color.
15- Add the prepared onion-cashew paste and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.
16- Then add the ground spices (that we had grind earlier) along with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and mix well and cook for 1 minute.
17- Remove pan from heat and add the whisked (and room temperature) yogurt to the pan.
18- Stir the yogurt continuously as you mix it with the curry so that it doesn’t separate.
19- Put pan back on medium heat and continue to stir and let the mixture come to a light boil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Then add salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder and turmeric.
20- Cook for 4 minutes until you see oil on top of the masala.
21- Then add the fried potatoes to the kadai.
22- Mix well and add 1/4 cup water. Cover with a lid tightly and “dum” cook for 5 to 6 minutes on low heat.
23 & 24- Then add cream, sugar, garam masala, kasuri methi. I added additional 3/4 cup water here. You can add more or less depending on the amount of curry you want. Simmer 3 more minutes and turn off heat.
Cover with a lid and let it remain like that for 5 more minutes before serving.
Garnish with cilantro and serve punjabi dum aloo with rice or naan.