‘Achar’ is the Hindi word for pickle, ‘Dum‘ means steam. Achari Dum Alu is just a simple vegetable dish of potatoes steam cooked in a spicy gravy using pickling spices. The pickling spices here are not your salt and vinegar kind, but Indian pickling spices.
Dum Alu was a favorite growing up, since it traditionally uses tiny baby potatoes which are simmered in a spicy and tangy sauce. What child doesn’t love potatoes, and this was yet another way to eat the spud. Nowadays, I use any kind of potato available even in a medium size, just cut it in half or quarters, depending on how big it is.
As the tators slowly cook in sauce, they absorb all the spices. I use a ready made spice mix made by Shan called Achar Gosht mix – check shanfoods.com. This is readily available in any Indian or Asian grocery store for around a dollar.
Achari Dum Alu is an Indian recipe - curry made with potatoes cooked in pickling spices under steam. Spicy and tangy, this simple dum alu livens up your day.
- 6-7 medium potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 2 green chillies - jalapeno or serano seeded
- 1 Tbsp dry grated coconut
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 Tbsp tamarind paste or juice of golf ball sized tamarind
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- pinch of Asfoetida
- Shan Achari Spice Mix
- Roughly chop the onion and peppers. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok or use spray. Fry the onions, chillies, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and coconut one by one until lightly browned and set aside to cool. Take care not to burn the coconut and sesame seeds.
- Using a blender or food processor, make a thick paste of the above without using too much liquid. You can add the cilantro leaves at this point if desired.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a wok or sauce pan and add a little hing and turmeric to temper. Add the masala paste and fry on low heat till well cooked. You may need to keep
- adding a little water to avoid sticking. Continue frying the paste for 12-15 mins at least.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes such that one piece is the size of a golf ball.
- If using fresh tamarind, soak one or two small pieces in a little water and extract the juice by kneading the pulp lightly.
- Add water to the spice paste to make a thick sauce or gravy. Add the Achari spice mix, about 2 spoonfuls according to desired spiciness. This is a pretty potent mix, so it is better to start by adding a small quantity and then adding more at the end. Add the tamarind paste or juice.
- Add the potatoes, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover the pot. Let the potatoes cook slowly in the simmering sauce.
- Check every five minutes or so to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot and stir to avoid burning or sticking. Once the potatoes seem to be done or almost cooked, taste for salt and spiciness. The spice mix contains salt so please consider that before adding more salt. Adjust seasonings like salt, spice mix etc. and also add a pinch of sugar to balance the tartness.
- Add fresh chopped cilantro to garnish and serve hot, once the potatoes are fork tender.
- As the sauce settles, it will thicken and also have a slight sheen to it due to the oil from the sesame seeds and coconut used in the paste.
- This only gets better with time, and will taste fabulous the next day too, as the potatoes absorb more spices over time.