Sunday, May 15, 2011

Aikam Baikam Tara Toori...........Alu Dum

The first time I remember hearing about " Alu Dum" in all its glory was when as kids we used to play" hide and seek". We went through a very democratic process of choosing the "seeker". We had rhymes that we repeated till all but one player got eliminated and he/she was declared the den. Our Bong neighbors Mana and Mou came up this one which ended with the lines " Alu dum khabo na, soshur badi jabo naa"( loosely translated that means I am not going to eat potato curry and I shall not get married- sorry the essence seems to be getting a little lost in the translation, as always but you get the point).

Now when it comes to naming their dishes the Bongs can give the Mughals a run for their money. Luchi Alu Dum sounds way more exotic than Puri Tarkari. The same goes for dishes like Prawn malai curry(shrimps in a coconut gravy), Dhokar Dalna (Besan curry), Kadaishutir Kachuri( Stuffed Kachoris with peas) etc. etc.

Puri Alu is or rather used to be a regular breakfast item in many households. Growing up I rember having Puris everytime there was a big puja in the household. Breakfast would be Puri Alu and lunch would be Khichdi with baigan fry and tomato khajur chutney.

However with increasing health awareness Puris are kind of disappearing from breakfast tables. A couple of weeks back when Delhi was still cold and nice we decided to indulge ourselves. So the breakfast spread comprised Luchi, Cholar Daal( Bengal gram daal) and of course Alu Dum. Both Alu Dum and Cholar Daal are very easy to make and need very few ingredients. The Luchi/Puri needs to be served hot, straight from the kadai/pan.

Alu Dum( Serves 4)


Baby Potatoes: 1/2 a kilo

Ginger paste: 1 tsp

Garlic paste: 1 tsp

Bay leaves: 1 or 2

Cumin/Jeera powder: 1 tsp

Salt: To taste

Sugar: a pinch

Garam Masala: 1 tsp( freshly ground cinnamon and green cardamom works best for this dish, gives the gravy a nice flavor)

Oil: 1 tbsp


  1. Boil the baby potatoes with their skin in salt water. Remove the skin. You could also leave the skin on, in that case make sure to prick the potatoes with a tooth pick before boiling them) and keep aside

  2. Heat the oil in the pan, add a pinch of sugar and let the sugar caramelize. This gives the gravy a nice rich color

  3. Add the bay leaves, ginger paste, garlic paste, cumin powder and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the salt.

  4. Then add the potatoes and continue to saute for 4/5 minutes.

  5. Add some water( about 1 cup of warm water) and check the seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes. The gravy should coat the potatoes and there should be a little bit more.

  6. Add the garam masala.

  7. Serve hot garnished with some finely chopped corriander

Cholar Daal(serves 4)


Bengal gram daal: About 1 measure/1 cup

Jeera/Cumin paste: 1 tsp ( very integral to a lot of traditional vegetarian cooking which are cooked sans onion and garlic so the flavoring comes from cumin and ginger)

Ginger paste: 1 tsp

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Bay leaves: 1 or 2

Salt: 1 tsp or to taste

Sugar: 1/2 tsp

Coconut: 1 tbsp, cut into very small pieces

Oil: 1 tsp

Garam Masala: 1/2 tsp

Ghee(optional): 1 tsp


  1. Pressure cook the daal along with the cumin paste. One whistle should do

  2. Heat some oil, add the bay leaves, whole cumin seeds and the ginger paste. Saute for a couple of minutes.

  3. Add the boiled daal, let it cook for a few minutes. Then add salt, sugar and the coconut.

  4. Finally top up with a teaspoon of ghee and serve hot.

Indulge, Make sure you can roll out and fry the puris real quick because you are sure to have everyone asking for more. On an average boys will eat about ten Puris with ease. If they are competing with each other and breaking their fast with this meal, budget for a few extras.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

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