Patiala Aloo Dum
			(also Alu Dum, Alu Dam, and variously)

	From the state of Patiala, Aloo Dum, literally "palace
	potatoes", or as I've seen it more poetically, "Potatoes
	to Perfume the Palace" raises the lowly potato to an
	almost unimaginable state of grace and elegance, and will
	indeed perfume any palace, however humble it might be.
	Yes, this is a bit tedious to prepare, but the effort
	of exactness will be rewarded.  TSC promises.  The "aloo"
	part means potato in many Indian languages, while "dum",
	etymologically related to the German "Dom" (cathedral)
	and to the Latin "Domus" (House/home), English "Domicile",
	if the obviousness need be continued, means palace in
	those languages, including Sanskrit.

	Level 10/10 in difficulty, not for culinary dilettants;
	more like for seriously anal chefs.


	2   lbs firm potatoes
	2/3 cup usli ghee

	Group I
	2   tsp ground cumino
	4   tsp ground coriander
	1   tsp ground cardamom
	1/4 tsp allspice
	1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
	1/4 tsp ground mace
	1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
	1   tsp turmeric

	2   tsp white poppy seeds
	2   TBS sesame seeds
	2   tsp black peppercorns
	6    @  cloves
	1   tsp black mustard seed
	1/2 tsp whole caraway seed
	1/2 tsp fenugreek seed

	4   TBS grated fresh coconut (to a paste, if you can)

	2    @  bay leaf, medium, well crumbled, and best ground
	    (about 1/8 tsp of pulverized bay leaf)

	2   TBS gram (besam or chick pea) flour or *finely* ground corn meal
	    if not gram flour.  The usual corn meal is not fine enough;
	    make it finer with a blender or very good spice grinder.

	Group II
	2/3 cup slivered almonds, rinsed of any almond dust and drained
		well in a strainer lined with one sheet of paper toweling.

	Group III
	1   tsp salt
	16  clv garlic, large, coarsely chopped
	4   TBS (=1/4 cup) finely chopped ginger root
	1    @  onion, large, coarsely chopped
		For mild piquance (tikkut)
	[1/4 tsp cayenne = 1/8 tsp habanero = 1/2 tsp Indian pepper powder
	                  = 1-2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika] optional

	Group IV
	12   @  saffron blades, toasted and ground in a mortar
		soaked in cream 30-60 minutes
		First choice is Kashmiri saffron, next is Iranian saffron.
		Don't waste time with Spanish saffron for this dish.
	2   TBS heavy cream
	3   TBS finely chopped dried apricot
	2-3 TBS crumbled brown crisped onions
	1+  cup water

	2   cups yoghurt, fresh and thick, beaten smooth with a fork
	    (Don't forget the beating smooth: it makes a significant
	    difference in texture)


	1. Peel pototoes, cut in thick (about 1/4 - 1/2 inch) rounds.
	   Prick the surfaces well and leave soak in cold, well
	   salted water.

	2. Collect the spices of Group I, the 2 indicated subgroups in
	   separate bowls.

	   Heat a small cast iron skillet to medium temperature and
	   dry fry (stirring) each of the subgroups separately until
	   they brown and become fragrant, collecting these all in a
	   small reserve bowl.  Careful not to burn.  Keep your nose
	   aware; at the slightest sniff of burn, knock all the spices
	   back into their bowl quickly, even though the mixture doesn't
	   look finished.  Remember to use a lower heat next time,
	   and take your time.

	   First time through, it might be worth the effort to dry
	   fry each of the spices separately, so you then know how
	   each behaves in this roasting technique.  Yes, this is a
	   giant pain in the ass.  But, if you do this, take notes
	   that you can actually read 10 years later, you have some
	   valuable culinary information that can only be obtained by

	3. Begin heating the ghee in a pot or stove top cassarole,
	   like Corning ware, to fry temperature.  Remove potato
	   rounds from water, drying them with a towel and placing
	   them on toweling.  Fry the potatoes in the ghee, in batches,
	   until golden brown, removing and reserving.

	   SET OVEN TO 200 F.

	4. Have the ghee in a casserole on a medium heat, bring
	   to temperature and add the almonds.  Brown the almonds
	   and draining well, remove them to the bowl of collected
	   roasted spices.  Turn heat off, remove from heat and
	   leave ghee for further use.

	5. Put the reserved spices in a small blender jar, or spice
	   grinder and blend all to a paste with 1.5 cup of cold water,
	   remove and reserve as the SPICES in same small bowl.

	6. Put Group III ingredients in a small blender jar, and blend
	   to a paste, adding either a bit of water or yoghurt if
	   necessary.  Reserve the ONION paste in a bowl.
	7. Put Group IV ingredients in a small blender jar, and blend
	   until smooth.  Mix these APRICOTS well into the 2 cups of

	8. Return ghee to a fry temperature.
	   Add ONION paste to hot ghee and fry until it begins to brown,
	   stirring constantly.  Then add the SPICES, cooking for 1 minute.
	   Return the potatoes to the casserole and mix throughly.
	   Remove from heat and stir in the YOGHURT mixture, and then
	   2 cups of hot water.  Cover tightly and place in oven for
	   at least 30 minutes, preferably a bit longer.  Should the
	   sauce lose its binding (this sometimes happens despite all
	   due dilligence and neurotic panic), lift out the potatoes
	   and whisk in 1-4 TBS of Yoghurt, and a pinch of salt
	   to rebind before serving.

	   We would prefer not to dilute the flavorings even this
	   much, but it is better than throwing everything out and
	   starting over.


	1. On spices:
	   You always want the spices to be fresh, and if ground,
	   freshly ground.  It does matter; without the freshness
	   the result will be like your taste when you have a cold.

	2. You can stop in 8 and not put the casserole in the oven until
	   the next day.  For potatoes, this is lot of work for one day;
	   however, it's pretty much guaranteed to delight your audience.
	   If you are "germ conscious", you might want to refrigerate
	   the casserole overnight.  Personally, I wouldn't bother.
	   Gauche as it may seem to say, this is really a "potato stew".
	   Anybody who has made stews (who hasn't?) knows they are always
	   better the next day.  Verbum sapiente suficit.

	3. This is one of those supremely designed dishes where cheating
	   on the old family recipes, or omitting or substituting of
	   ingredients, or messing with the ingredients or their proportions
	   is inviting disaster.  Sure, it will be still be edible, but
	   then so are live and wriggling grubs and larvae.  Performing
	   Mozart does not allow leaving half the notes out, or changing
	   them.  Why?  Because it is a delicate piece of crafted
	   architecture, and so is this, so much so that I'm reluctant
	   even to share its secrets lest they fall into the hands 
	   of culinary baboons.  This is one of the few instances of
	   life where simply being obedient, and precisely so, will
	   actually pay off.  You can study and figure out why and
	   and how it works some other time.  Learning from the mistakes
	   of others is more efficient than learning from your own,
	   but often not quite so convincing.
	4. This is certainly not the only recipe for this named
	   delectation, just the best that TSC has done with this
	   particular approach.  It is made a bit differently in
	   Kashmir, in Madras, in ....  But, it is always highly
	   aromatic and complex.


Top of Page

Home Page
The Snotty Chef
The Snotty Chef Index
Index of Indian Cuisine

Email me, Bill Hammel at
            © February 2006 by Bill Hammel (
            Permission to use for any noncommercial, educational purpose.
            This copyright and permission notice must appear in all copies.
            Permission is also granted to refer to or describe these
            documents in commercial books, products, or online services.
            These documents may be freely reproduced, copied and disseminated
            by any electronic, digital or written means, but in no case may
            such copying or dissemination be charged for.  The idea is very
            simple, no person or body has supported any of the original
            works contained in this pages.  They are works of love given
            freely.  I find repugnant the idea of someone expropriating,
            for profit, what I give freely.  If you have a problem with
            this, ask; rules always have exceptions.

The URL for this document is:
Created: June 23, 2007
Last Updated: October 3, 2007
Last Updated: January 31, 2010