Food authenticity is the Holy Grail in our kitchen. As a rule we do not mess with the original recipe. No. Never.
However, fusion food seems to be the norm these days. Tampering with exquisite traditional cuisine in my opinion is absolute blasphemy. While the world goes gaga over liquid nitrogen infused food theatrics, nothing gets me more excited than a simple meal that boasts of culture and tradition. There is just so much more love in a recipe that comes down through generations that the world of gourmet just pales in comparison. Well, that is my opinion.
Regional cuisines are absolutely fantastic. The recipes boast of those local ingredients that give any concoction bags of flavour. In the world of food blogging, there are few, very few bloggers who talk, write and cook tradition. Thanks to my obsession with food I bumped into Anshie Dhar on a food group on Facebook. We instantly bonded over our mutual love for the original. I was instantly hooked on to her blog – SpiceRoots that focuses on her Kashmiri roots. She writes about those sensational recipes of the traditional Kashmiri kitchen, many of which have been conceived by her grandmother. Settled in Colorado with her heart in Kashmir, Anshie weaves stories of the valley through her food. It is amazing how the two of us living continents apart, bond so much over food. Such is the power of food.
I am not a fan of potatoes. I know it is really weird, but that’s me. With the packet of baby potatoes that was staring at me for over a week, there was no looking further than Anshie’s very famous Kashmiri Dum Aloo.
If dum aloo for you is the sloppy tomatoey restaurant version. Then let me tell you, this will be a whole new experience, and it is outstanding!
My DNA did not allow me to tamper with Anshie’s recipe and I followed it to the T, and as she writes, I have not dared to mess with the sanctity of this culture treasure. The outcome was absolutely sensational.
This my friend, is the closest you get to Kashmir!
Dum Aloo : An Ode to Kashmir and a Food Friendship Continents Apart
Kashmiri Dum Aloo
Medium size potatoes : 10 - 12
Kashmiri chili powder/ Degi Mirch also works well: 1 - 11/2 Tbsp
Asafoetida powder (hing) - 1/4 tsp
Ginger Powder : 1/2 tsp
Cloves (mildly crushed) : 4-5
Whisked yogurt, at room temprature: 1/2 cup
Cumin seed: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon stick: 1
Cooking Oil : 1 cup
Cardamom (Badi Elaichi): 2-3
Fennel Powder: 3-4 tsp
Sugar (optional): 1/2 Tbsp
Kashmiri Garam Masala Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Boil the potatoes or cook them in a pressure cooker, but be sure not to overcook. You want an overall boiled potato without it being mushy.
Peel the skin off the potatoes, and pierce the potatoes all over with a tooth pick or a thin skewer. They need to be pierced through and through. This is an important step.
Heat oil in a Kadahi or pan.
Deep fry the potatoes on medium heat until they get a reddish brown tinge and are crisp and light. The potatoes should feel lighter than when they were when boiled. If they are not light, the spices and oil won't steep in.
Remove from heat and place them in a bowl.
Now keep all spices, water and yogurt lined up and ready to go.
Take a separate pot, heat some oil on medium heat. (4 Tbs should be good to get a good taste going, but you should use more (if you can) to get the real taste.
Add in cumin, then the cloves and sauté for just a few seconds. Add in the bay leaf, asafoetida, cinnamon, green cardamom, brown cardamom.
Add a Tbs or two of water to the chili powder, mix well and then add to the oil. This reduces the risk of the chili getting burnt. If you are comfortable, you can add in the chili and immediately add some water too. Either way, you need to ensure the chili powder doesn't burn or smoke.
Now add the yogurt and keep stirring the yogurt until it comes to a boil and homogenizes with the rest of the spice, and oil floats on top.
Now add salt and all other spices to this mixture. Stir.
Add about 2 1/2 cups of water. And bring to a rolling boil.
Add in the fried potatoes.
The potatoes should be just about submerged in water.
Cook for fifteen minutes on medium heat; covered.
Add the garam masala, sugar and cover and cook for another 4-5 min until the gravy thickens.
Serve piping hot with White Rice, Dal and a Salad.