In Darjeeling this spicy potato dish is very popular and made for big family dinners and festivities due to its simplicity in preparation.
Aloo Dum is a versatile accompaniment to an Indian meal as it goes well with Rotis/Indian breads and rice. As the weather drops in the colder months of autumn and winter in Darjeeling, I have noticed the Aloo Dum gets a bit spicier!
Panchphoran literally translates to five spices and is a mix of five seed spices used in Eastern India from Bengal, Assam, Orissa and all the way up to the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a mixture of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, and fenugreek seeds. The spice mixture is available in most Indian spice shops but easy to make at home too.
One spice seed worth mentioning in the Panchphoran mix is fenugreek. Fenugreek was cultivated by the ancient Assyrians around 3000 years ago, and is considered by ancient Ayurvedic traditions to contain beneficial properties which help to lower blood sugar and stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. As part of the five seed mix, the bitterness of the fenugreek is balanced with the flavours of the other four spice seeds.
The Aloo Dum recipe also contains immune boosting garlic and healing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of turmeric. Recent laboratory studies have shown curcumin, an antioxidant that is an active ingredient in turmeric, has some anti-cancer effects.
Serves 8 to 10 people | Cooking time: 25 minutes
- 1kg potatoes (any variety, the ordinary white ones work best)
- 1 teaspoon salt (add this to the potatoes when boiling)
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 6 cloves garlic (ground to a paste)
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (sunflower or groundnut oil work best)
- ½ teaspoon panchporan
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish (chopped, optional)
Boil the potatoes with salt. While the potatoes are cooking, in a bowl, mix the garlic paste, tomato purée and chilli powder. Once the potatoes are cooked, let them cool enough so you can remove the skin. Cut the potatoes into 1” cubes. Heat the oil on medium heat in a pan. Add the panchphoran and wait for the seeds to pop before adding the garlic mixture. Stir for a few minutes until the oil separates and the mixture has darkened. Add the potatoes and coat them well with the garlic, tomato and spice mixture. Turn the heat to low and cover the pan for 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving. Enjoy hot!