True-blue Kashmiri Dum Olu

dum olu and dal
dum olu and dal

I am breaking the journey through the Kashmir Himalayas to share with you a family favourite from the region.  ‘Kashmiri’ dum aloo appears on the menu of Indian restaurants more often than it ought to.  I don’t imply that it is not worth offering, but that what is offered is not the real McCoy, but an outright imposter.  The only thing they have in common is the main ingredient, my favourite vegetable, the potato.  You may well say, “What’s the big deal?” If Saveur (their tagline – Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine!) can invent their inauthentic versions why not Indian restaurants!  Of course, one is free to try restaurant dum aloo, even like it, but there is nothing Kashmiri about it.  All I want is for you, my readers, to make an informed choice.

I used to cook it only occasionally as it involves a bit of frying and uses more fat than my average everyday cooking.  That meant cooking a larger batch since “who knows when I will cook it again,” which, consequently, involved consuming even larger quantities of oil.  I decided to change that.  Now I cook it at least once a month, enough just for two meals.  I get my treat and there is no need to binge.

Dum Olu
Dum Olu

This month I have cooked it twice already.  Vijay’s cousins were visiting on Dussehra and I decided to cook an all-Kashmiri lunch for them.  I served dum olu and tchaman kaliya with taher and plain steamed rice.  I cooked it again last Saturday for Ani, who is home for Divali.  He was surprised that I didn’t have it on the blog already.  I must amend another oversight – my rogan josh recipe.

Kashmiri dum olu/ dum aloo is prepared without any onion, tomato, ginger, or garlic.  It is fairly easy and quick to prepare.  For all the deep frying it involves, dum olu is not really all that oily.  The amount of oil is in your hands and I make scarcely-oily (no oil floating on top) to moderately-oily versions.  Moderately oily does look sinfully delicious (the recipe here). Moderation and mindfulness, always.

Dum Olu
Dum Olu

Dum Olu
Kashmiri-style whole potatoes in a gravy
serves 8-10

12 medium potatoes (or six large potatoes), boiled and peeled
(do not use small potatoes)
a pinch of strong hing
2 cloves
1-2 tejpatta (cassia leaf)
1T+ Kashmiri red chilli powder (it’s very mild!)
2T saunf (fennel) powder
1t saunth (dried ginger) powder
1/2t Kashmiri/Punjabi garam masala
2T dahi (yoghurt)
1/4 C oil (preferably, cold-pressed, extra virgin mustard oil)

Prick the potatoes all over with a fork/match-stick. If potatoes are large, cut them in half. Heat mustard oil to near smoking. Add potatoes to the hot oil. When they are golden on one side, turn them over. This takes a few minutes and you needn’t watch too closely. You can do other things [make a cup of tea, read the newspaper…] while the potatoes are frying.  Turn them over only when they are done on that side instead of turning often.  Fry in this manner till golden all around. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried potatoes to a bowl/serving dish.

Dum Olu simmering
Dum Olu simmering

You need about 2-4 tablespoons of oil in the pan to prepare the gravy. Remove any extra oil. To the hot oil add hing, cloves, and tejpatta, in that order. Reduce the heat to low and add all the ground spices (except garam masala) to the oil and give a stir till they just sizzle. I measure out all the ground spices in a small bowl and keep them ready. The spices can burn easily so working quickly is critical at this point. Quickly add the yoghurt; this also helps cool the pan and prevents scorching. Stir till the spices are fragrant and the oil just beginning to separate. Add a cup of water and bring to a boil.  Add salt and drop the prepared potatoes into this gravy. Cover the pan, and cook on a simmer for 20-30min, turning the potatoes once midway. Add more water if required – the gravy should be thick, not watery, with a little oil floating on top. Transfer to the serving dish and sprinkle with garam masala. Serve hot with steamed white rice, and a simple dal such as naniwali dal.  I always serve it with my nani’s mung dal  (in the picture).

dum olu with rice
dum olu with rice

I have some festive cooking planned for today. Shankarpali are done, more treats to make and eat over the next few days.

A HAPPY DIVALI to all! Let the festivities continue!

14 thoughts on “True-blue Kashmiri Dum Olu

  1. Looks like such a comfort meal. I would probably have some haaq with this meal too just because of my compulsion to have some greens for all meals but Arvind would be a happy man with this meal. Love kashmiri dum aloo, I had learnt it from some TV show long time back when I used to watch TV 🙂
    I think the frying potatoes don’t soak up much oil if you use the right potatoes and boil them right. Small new potatoes work for me.

    Guess what, haak is the traditional combination with dum olu!

    You are right about the frying of the potatoes, it actually seals the potatoes from absorbing too much oil, unless you over-boil the potatoes.

  2. Happy Deepavali Anita, Dum Olu looks delicious.

    Without the usual trio of tomatoes, onions and garlic it is still feels light even with the oil and all.

    It is definitely quick to make, so the perfect dish for Diwali lunch when you have so much going on!

  3. I loved this recipe. You don’t always need hajaar ingredients to make something special and festive. I want to make this with the paneer and the goat liver dishes you mentioned. Perhaps the next dinner party I throw will have a Kashmiri theme and we will wear phirans. The weather seems to be right for it. Just dreaming out aloud here 🙂

    Now, that sounds like a good party theme! I hope you try this recipe, Intrepid Cook!

  4. I always thought sum aloo could be made with baby potatoes. This one looks super yummy. bookmarked I am going to make this soon. Thanks

    That be the Bengali alur dom! 😉 Try this recipe and tell me what you think.

  5. love that the ingredients do not run into two pages and dont involve grinding to a paste. Am going to try this soon

    Isn’t it nice to be able to cook dishes that appear complicated and complex but, in reality, are the opposite! I am always on the lookout for such gems.

  6. Absolutely lovely! I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for you to share your recipe for this dish- and yes, it differs from most recipes of what passes as “dum aloo” around the web as well as in printed books by so-called “authorities of all foods Indian”. Thank you so much for setting the record straight! I wish you and your family many blessings for the year ahead- cheers-

    🙂 Yes, it is one of those much-talked-about dishes that is never cooked in the Kashmiri style and yet given that tag. Glad to put it out there. Now, I must get to the rogan josh recipe that suffers much the same fate and is actually the simplest of mutton curries to cook. Ani has been asking me to putit on the blog for some time for a friend of his.

  7. Thanks for putting this up. Is haldi not required in this? The gravy looks as if there is haldi in there. I still have to learn the art of adding dahi to a spice mix like this, it stays fine when i add dahi to a spice paste (onion,garlic) being bhunoed, but almost always gets split when i add to powdered spices! Can you help?

    No haldi in this! About dahi splitting – try with dahi at room temperature. That’s the only ‘secret’ I have!

  8. Hi Anita
    In my quest to cook something new I landed on this recipe of Dum Aloo. It turned out fantastic and was enjoyed a lot by my family.
    Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Glad you found the blog and a recipe that you and your family enjoyed. It’s a simple one and I love that it there is no chopping and frying of onions and tomatoes!

  9. I made this last night for dinner, and we all loved it, especially the kids!

    So glad to hear that you and your family liked it! It’s one of my faves. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s