Dum Aloo (Slow-Cooked Spicy Potatoes)

Potatoes – 1 lb (baby potatoes or other small variety)
Oil – 2-3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1/2 tsp
Dried red chilies – 2-3
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 1/2 cup, thinly sliced
Ginger – 1-in piece, thinly sliced or grated
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Cilantro – a few leaves
*Dry mango (amchur) powder – 1/2 tsp, or Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Wash and peel the potatoes. Feel free to leave the skin on, if that’s what you like. Also, if you are using potatoes other than baby potatoes, cut them in halves or quarters. Remember that you need big chunks of potatoes.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the onion and ginger. Saute till the onions are golden.
Add the turmeric, red chili and garam masala powders. Saute for a few seconds.
Add the potatoes and mix well so as to coat with the spices. Sprinkle salt as per taste.
Lightly roast the potatoes in the oil. I used halved small, white potatoes and allowed the cut edges to develop a nice thin crust. Feel free to add an additional tablespoon or so of oil to help the process.
Add a few cilantro leaves and sprinkle a tiny amount of water if you feel it is too dry. Cover with a heavy lid and cook slowly on low heat till the potatoes are cooked through, maybe around 15 minutes.

Once the potatoes are done, add the dry mango powder or lemon juice and mix well. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Serve hot with rice or Indian flat-breads like chapathis, naan, etc. Since this is a dry dish, you may need some other gravy or raita (yogurt based salad) too. Or you can just eat some as a snack or appetizer.

You may wonder why I did not add garlic paste in the dish. You can add a little crushed or ground garlic, but I personally feel the flavor of ginger is sufficient here.

To make this dish with more gravy or as a curry, add some chopped tomato to the masala, and a cup of water while cooking the potatoes. You will find a nice, thick gravy has developed. If you want a creamier curry, finish off with a splash of cream or coconut milk.

In many Indian restaurants, you will find this dish with cashew nuts and raisins in them. This is entirely a restaurant culinary creation and dum aloo is never made that way in homes.

Notes: Amchur or dry mango powder is made from dried, unripe mangoes. It is used in Indian cuisine like you would use lemon juice and adds a nice tang to dishes without the added moisture. Amchur has additional health benefits since it is a highly concentrated source of citric acid from the unripe mangoes. It is available in most Indian grocery stores, and just a little goes a long way.

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