Alur Dom/Dum Alu, Take 2


Alur dom/dum alu was the top vote getter in this month’s recipe poll, which closed on Monday. I was not expecting it to be as popular as it turned out to be—I guess it’s a dish with a lot of Indian restaurant name recognition. I have actually previously posted another recipe for alur dom (which is the Bengali name, whereas dum alu is the Hindi name). That recipe—which came to me from one of my aunts—is very good in its own right; of late, however, I’ve been making it more often in this style which adds a few spices and leaves out the yogurt. In both recipes the final dish has a thick, sticky gravy/sauce that clings to the potatoes. The only challenge here is to get it to that point without scorching anything. A heavy-bottomed pan will help tremendously with that and I also have a cheat in the notes below the recipe which will not give identical results, probably, but will probably give you greater peace of mind. Either way, you’re likely to like this. And, oh yes, of course I made a Reel on Instagram the last time I cooked this. And of course you want to watch it.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
  • The following whole garam masala: 2-3 tez patta/cassia leaves, 5 pods green cardamom, 5 cloves, 2 small pieces cassia bark/cinnamon
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 tspn freshly crushed garlic
  • 1 tspn freshly crushed ginger
  • The following, ground briefly to a coarse powder:  1 tspn coriander seeds, 1/3 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1/4 tspn black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tspn haldi
  • 1 tspn red chilli powder of choice
  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes with juices
  • 2-3 Thai chillies, slit
  • 1 big pinch jaggery/brown sugar
  • 1/2 tspn bhaja moshla or garam masala
  • 2 tblspns dhania/cilantro, chopped
  • 1-1.5 cups water
  • Salt
  • 3-4 tblspns oil, preferably mustard oil

Preparation

  1. Heat the mustard oil over medium-high heat till it just begins to smoke in a deep pan, then lower the heat to medium and add all the whole garam masala.
  2. As soon as the tez pata begins to darken add the zeera.
  3. As soon as the zeera darkens and splits add the chopped onion and saute, stirring often for 7 minutes or so or until nicely browned around the edges.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic, mix in and saute for a minute or two or till the raw aroma is gone.
  5. Add the haldi, the chilli powder and the powdered spices. Mix in and saute, stirring constantly for another minute or so.
  6. Add the potatoes, mix in thoroughly and saute for 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly to make sure nothing scorches at the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the tomatoes and the salt, mix in thoroughly and saute, stirring often till the tomates have completely decomposed and the oil separates.
  8. Add the jaggery and the slit green chillies and mix in lightly.
  9. Add the water, mix in, bring to a high simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook till the potatoes are done (another 15 minutes probably depending on your potatoes).
  10. Uncover the pan and gently stir to coat the potatoes with the thickened tomato gravy.
  11. Sprinkle the bhaja moshla over, garnish with the dhania and serve with parathas (ideally) or chapatis or rice with dal.

Notes

  1. Use a yellow-fleshed potato like the Klondike Goldust or similar for best results. I don’t bother peeling the potatoes but that’s up to you.
  2. Also up to you is the heat level of the chilli powder you use. I sometimes make it with a very hot chilli powder and sometimes with very mild deggi mirch [affiliate link]. It’ll be good either way—and remember, the green chillies will add some heat as well.
  3. I like to make this with less water but it does make for an increased chance of things sticking/scorching at the bottom of the pan towards the end. If you’re nervous about this you can start out with 2 cups of water and when the potatoes are almost done, uncover the pan and reduce the gravy to a thick, coating consistency.
  4. If you don’t have bhaja moshla by all means use your preferred garam masala. But if you do, mix it in and cook for another minute or so at the end.
  5. Alur dom made this way and served with chholar dal and parathas (or a sweet pulao) is a real treat. Add some begun bhaja and a sticky, spicy chicken curry and you’ve got yourself a proper feast.

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