Dum Aloo, potato cooked whole on slow fire with lid on, is a staple to Kashmiri cuisine as Dal Lake is to our beautiful valley. To think potato had not reached Indian shores until 1830 and very unlikely it reached anywhere near the kitchens of Kashmir until maybe 1870s. The question that begs the answer is, are Kashmiris creative? The simple answer is yes, very creative, because not only were they able to spot in potato clay with which they would sculpt a legendary dish but they went on to make Dum Aloo so Kashmiri that it may well be exported back to Portugal on a premium.
In nearly the entire world, potato, whenever it shall be picked to bedeck tables of kings, only the Kashmiri version of it could make the cut. Let us take a look at a guest who is waiting for their turn to be served food at a wedding in Kashmir. The chutneys come first, then comes rice but not until the steaming Dum Aloo is landed on the rice can the mood say, “Ok, go dig in, eat, relish!” The mehfil of the palette comes alive, eyes light up and the much-awaited first morsel is swallowed. Dum Aloo signifies celebration and its history and future both promise to remain something that will always bring everybody joy.
- Take ten two-inch diameter potatoes.
- Boil potatoes in a pressure cooker for 2 or 3 whistle.
- Once tender, peel them carefully. They are going to be hot and steaming.
- Prick them with a fork for better absorption of frying oil.
- Careful, the flame has to be low.
- Deep fry until potatoes are golden brown.
- Now is the turn of spices, read carefully.
- FYI Kashmiris do not use garlic, onion or tomatoes. So toss recipes that start out with those.
- Aloo is not Dum Aloo if you started with 1 kg potato.
- Take one cup of yoghurt and mix in Kashmiri chilly powder and dry ginger powder.
- Take oil in a wok, bring to heat and add black cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon.
- Now pour the spice in yoghurt and reduce heat.
- Stir until oil separates and colour turns a rich red.
- Slow fire, slow fire, slow fire!
- When water reduces to half a glass, oil has risen to the surface.
Dum Aloo cooking will take 2 or 3 hours. There is no shortcut and if you have invested the patience, you can serve it on steamed rice and send your taste buds to heaven!