Punjabi Dum Aloo (Potatoes in creamy gravy) is a popular North Indian recipe which has many variations across the country.
What is Dum Aloo?
Dum Aloo is a traditional dish that originated in Northern India. The name “Dum Aloo” refers to the dish’s main ingredient as well as the cooking technique.
“Aloo” means “potatoes” and “dum” is a way of cooking that involves ‘slow cooking’ in a ‘handi’ (or a clay pot) that goes back in time.
For other potato recipe: Aloo paratha, Aloo methi
Going back to it’s origin
I want to share an interesting piece of history.
A terrible famine in the year 1784, lead to the creation of this dish. To create employment during such a difficult time, the then Nawab of Oudh, Asaf-ud-Daulah, hired masons to build Barra Immambara fort and also hired cooks to feed the masons. It was during the preparation of one such meals, the cooks decided on a modification of an ancient recipe of “Dum Pukht” (which was beef stew) and replaced beef with turnips.
The Nawab’s son, Wajid Ali Shah banished to Calcutta (now Kolkata) after the “Mutiny of 1857”. He introduced the potatoes to the “Dum Pukht” recipe (as potatoes were cultivated and a staple here).
You may also like: Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani
Recipe in Real time
In real-time, we can easily replicate this recipe at home. Usually baby potatoes are used, but if you don’t have them readily available, potato cubes can also be used.
The first step in cooking this traditional dish is prepare the potatoes. Peel and pork the potatoes with a fork/ toothpick and let it soak in salted water. Next comes the technique of cooking the potatoes. You can either boil, fry or sauté. I wanted to adapt a technique that could be close to the “dum” cooking and baked the potatoes instead with very little oil.
This is followed by cooking the creamy onions, tomatoes and cashew gravy that is lightly spiced.
Finally, we combine the slowly baked potatoes with the creamy flavorful gravy and let the flavors from the gravy absorb the slowly cooked potatoes.
Sharing my version of this traditional recipe. Hope you enjoy making it as much as I did!
Punjabi Dum Aloo
- 10-12 whole baby potatoes peeled. Or large potato, peeled and cut into medium sized cubes
- 1 medium sized Red Onion sliced
- 3 tbsp Tomato paste or 1 large tomato chopped
- 7-8 whole cashew nuts
- 1 1/2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp cardamon pods ground to powder
- 1 tsp Fennel seeds ground to powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt beaten and smooth. Or 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Cilantro chopped for garnish
- 1-2 whole bay leaves
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- Salt to taste
- Water as required
- Rinse baby potatoes and peel. Half or quarter in size if they are big or keep them whole. Alternatively, peel and cut a large potato into medium sized cubes.
- With a fork or toothpick pork the potatoes around the surface.
- In a medium bowl take enough water so that the potatoes can immerse completely. Add and dissolve salt. Now add the potatoes. Let it soak for 20 minutes.
- While the potatoes are soaking, preheat the oven at 400 F (or 200 C) and prep for the gravy.
- In a thick based cooking pot, heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté sliced onions until it turns pink and translucent.
- Now add cashews and cook for a minute.
- Next add tomato paste and water and cook for 5 minutes. If working with fresh tomatoes, cook until oil separates.
- Remove the pot from heat and let it cool.
- By now the oven would be pre heated and potatoes well soaked. Drain them.
- Line a baking sheet/ aluminum foil onto a baking tray and spray/ brush oil. Place the baby potatoes/ potato cubes and bake for 20 minutes at 400 F. Half way through the bake time, flip the potatoes, so that they bake evenly from all sides.
- By now the cooked onions-tomatoes-cashews might have cooled. Add the cooled mix and water (as required) into a blender/ food processor to get a thick gravy consistency.
- In the same pot on a medium flame, heat 1 tbsp oil and add bay leaves. Cook for a minute or until fragrant. Add cinnamon powder and cook for 30 seconds.
- Next add cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Now add red chili powder and turmeric powder and cook for 30 seconds. Next add ginger garlic paste and cook until the raw fragrance disappears or 30 seconds.
- Now add the onions-tomato-cashew paste and mix well. Add water if required and bring it to a boil. (Maintain the gravy consistency).
- Add cardamom powder, fennel powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt and mix well. Let it boil for 5 minutes.
- Now add the beaten, smooth yogurt and mix well. Bring it to a boil.
- Check for the consistency of the gravy. Add water if it appears to be thick.
- By now the potatoes would have been baked. Add these baked potatoes to the gravy and simmer for 7-8 minutes.
- If you aren’t using yogurt, then add lemon juice at this stage.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
- Enjoy the creamy dish with hot rotis, parathas (Indian flatbread) or plain steamed rice.
- Instead of baking, you can shallow fry or pan fry the potatoes as well.
- A crock pot or insta pot can also be used for this recipe.