Aloor Dum is perhaps one of the best-known foods from the Bengali cuisine, apart from the gorgeous sweets of course. The special way the Bengalis have of cooking potatoes – spicy, with a sweetish tinge to them – has bowled over many, including me.
I tried Bengali Dum Aloo for the first ever time at a Durga Pujo pandal in Bangalore, and loved it to bits. Sadly, I never really got around to learning how to make it. While my understanding of Bengali cuisine now definitely extends beyond the Aloor Dum, my repertoire of Bengali food remained restricted to Bhoger Khichuri and Bhapa Doi. This changed when I came across this Bengali Dum Aloo recipe at Batter Up With Sujata last week. I decided it was high time I made the sabzi I had loved so vehemently. So, make it I did, and it turned out to be glorious – the beautiful medley of flavours I still remember from all those years ago.
I made the sabzi in a pressure cooker, as opposed to the pan-cooking that the original Bengali Dum Aloo recipe advocates. I also made a few little variations to the recipe, to make it healthier. Please don’t baulk at me for that, you guys – I can assure you that the little changes I made did not affect the wonderful taste of the Aloor Dum in any way! 🙂
This is Niramish Aloor Dum (literally ‘no-meat dum aloo‘ in Bengali), in other words an entirely vegetarian sabzi. Since this dish is typically prepared for Pujo and other religious occasions, it is made vegetarian, without the use of even onion or garlic. That makes this an entirely plant-based recipe, which can be made vegan if you do not use the asafoetida. It is gluten-free as well.
So, here’s presenting to you my take on the Niramish Aloor Dum, a healthier version that gets cooked in a jiffy but tastes every bit as scrumptious as the traditional version.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 6 medium-sized potatoes
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tablespoon mustard oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
- 4-5 cardamom
- 4-5 cloves
- 2 small bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Red chilli powder to taste
- 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Wash the potatoes thoroughly under running water, and remove any traces of mud on them. Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a wide vessel. Add in just enough water to cover the potatoes. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker, close and put the whistle on. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles or till the potatoes are cooked through. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Chop the tomatoes roughly. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Grind the tomatoes and ginger to a puree, in a mixer. Keep aside.
- Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.
- When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, remove the cooked potatoes. Discard the water they were cooked in. Allow the potatoes to cool down fully and then peel them. Keep aside.
- In the same pressure cooker bottom (after discarding the water from it and drying it up completely), add in the mustard oil. When the oil heats up, add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves. Saute for 2-3 seconds.
- Now, add the tomato-ginger puree to the pressure cooker. Saute for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell of the tomatoes goes away completely.
- Add in salt and red chilli powder to taste, garam masala, turmeric powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.
- Add in the water. Mix well.
- Add in the cooked and peeled potatoes. Mix gently, ensuring that all the potato quarters are evenly coated with the gravy.
- Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Cook for 2 whistles on high heat. Let the pressure release naturally. After the pressure has fully gone down, mix in the finely chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve the Niramish Aloor Dum hot or at room temperature, with pooris, luchis, rotis or parathas.
- I used a 5-litre pressure cooker to make this Niramish Aloor Dum.
- Since I had only medium-sized potatoes, I quartered them to make this dish. If you have baby potatoes, you could use them instead too.
- If you don’t have mustard oil, you can use any regular oil instead. However, the typical Bengali Aloor Dum has to have that fragrance of mustard oil, without which it is incomplete.
- Traditionally, the Bengali Aloor Dum is cooked in a pan, using a lot of oil. I have used very limited oil here, considering I made it in a pressure cooker. You can use more oil if you prefer it that way.
- I have used garam masala by Ciba Taaza Spices, which comes without any preservatives or additives, to make this Aloor Dum. You can use home-made garam masala instead, too.
- Traditionally, potatoes are boiled, then fried in mustard oil and then cooked in the tomato-ginger gravy. I have not fried them, because I wanted to use limited oil. You may do so, if you wish.
- Adjust the number of green chillies and the quantity of red chilli powder you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.
- Sugar is typically used to make Bengali Aloor Dum, but I have used jaggery powder here instead.
- If you feel the Aloor Dum is a little watery after the pressure releases, you can simmer it for a couple of minutes.
- I have used country (Nati) tomatoes here. They are quite sour, as compared to the regular ‘farm’ tomatoes, and added a lovely tang to the dish.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
This post is for the Recipe Swap Challenge group that I am part of. Every alternate month, a group of us food bloggers get together, pair up, and cook from each other’s blogs based on a particular theme. This month, I have been paired with the very talented Sujata Roy, who writes at Batter Up With Sujata. ‘Regional Cuisine’ is the theme for the month, so I zeroed in on this Niramish Aloor Dum from among the several beautiful Bengali dishes on Sujata’s blog.