Dum Alu with Sesame and Peanut


Is there a term in India now for home cooking that wanders over the map and isn’t strictly regional? Whatever that term might be, it would describe this recipe (and also most of my cooking these days). I’m calling this dum alu but it looks and tastes nothing like the Bengali alur dom or broadly North Indian dum alu I am most familiar with. It looks like it could be Kashmiri dum alu but really the flavours are borrowed from a range of South Indian preparations. Its most immediate relative or inspiration is probably the Hyderabadi baghare baingan. That’s where the sesame seeds and peanuts probably come from, but there’s no coconut here and also no onions or garlic. If there is indeed a regional version of dum alu or some other potato curry that is made like this, please let me know. It is almost impossible to come up with anything new in the Indian context, given the vastness of the country’s foodways. What I can tell you for sure is that this is a very tasty dish, one that works very well as a side or a main. Give it a go.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs small, round potatoes, peeled
  • 3-5 dried red chillies
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tspn freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • Lightly toast, cool and grind the following together: 1 tspn each cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorn, fenugreek seeds + 3 tspns each sesame seeds and peanuts
  • 3 tblspns balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tspn jaggery/brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt
  • Oil

Preparation

  1. Heat 2-3 tblspns of oil over medium heat in a saucepan that can hold the potatoes in a single layer and when it shimmers add the dried red chillies.
  2. As soon as the chillies turn glossy (which won’t take long) add the curry leaves.
  3. As soon as the curry leaves turn glossy (which will also not take long) add the grated ginger.
  4. Saute for 30 seconds or so (till the raw aroma goes away) and add the potatoes, haldi and salt. Mix thoroughly and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes till the potatoes pick up some color but be careful not to scorch the chillies.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add all the ground masala, mix in thoroughly and stir-fry for another 2 minutes or so.
  6. Add the vinegar and jaggery/brown sugar, mix in thoroughly and stir for another minute or two.
  7. Add the water, bring up to a high simmer, cover and cook till the potatoes are done.
  8. Uncover the pan and reduce the gravy if necessary till it is thick but still easily pourable. Stir constantly to make sure the bottom doesn’t stick.
  9. Serve with steamed rice or chapatis/parathas.

Notes

  1. Small waxy potatoes are perfect for this. Peeling them is a fussy step but everything else is extremely easy.
  2. There is quite a bit of methi here. I find the bitterness really works with everything else—particularly after it’s sat a while but if you’re nervous about that feel free to reduce to 1/2 tspn.
  3. Do resist the temptation to make this spicier; it’s very well-balanced as it is.


 

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