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Calcutta & Aloo Dum

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Calcutta is home. I was born on a cold morning in December in Kolkata, the best months to visit the city. Due to these extraordinary times, I haven’t been able to visit Kolkata in the last five months- the longest I’ve ever stayed away from home. 

Distance makes the heart grow fonder this is particularly true in my relationship with Calcutta. The world that the British raj left behind can still be seen while walking through the streets of Northern Calcutta. The people and community are missed much, but the food is missed the most. Some of the food found back home cannot be compared to any other in the world. 

The various food institutions of Calcutta, deserve undeterred attention. Today I am reminiscing about the institutional Bengali Eating house named Hotel Sidheshwari Ashram. You can get a complete meal here in 200 INR, with more than enough variety on your thali. Me saying this stands for something because I love ordering a variety of dishes. This humble eating house was established in 1983! This high ceilinged house is a signature to the Bengali homes, built in the yesteryears. This house and its surroundings used to once belong to Rani Rashmoni, who was a royal woman ahead of her times. The owner still speaks fondly of her life and her grace, as if she was here, yesterday. 

The servers here are extremely friendly and ever so ready to feed you. The Bengali culture itself is deeply rooted in food and the love around it, in every step. While I write this, I salivate thinking of that delicious thali. My next best option is making some delicious Aloo Dum. The perfect partner to monsoon and fried luchis!

Here is the best Aloo Dum recipe you will ever find. It comes close to my favourite aloo dum memory which was always lovingly prepared by my friend, Pallavi’s mother. Try it, for it’s quick and easy to make and damn delicious!

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion grated (drain the juice and reserve)
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • ¼ cup yoghurt
  • 4 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp ginger grated
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Boil and peel the potatoes.
  2. Prick the potatoes with a fork to punch some holes all around for even cooking
  3. Sprinkle ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp turmeric and keep aside.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp oil and fry the potatoes till golden. Drain and transfer to a plate.
  5. In the same pan, add ½ tbsp ghee.
  6. Season with bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds.
  7. Add 1 finely chopped green chilli and grated ginger.
  8. Add grated onion and fry till the onion is nicely golden brown.
  9. Add the garam masala, rest of the turmeric, sugar and red chilli powder
  10. Saute well and then add tomato puree.
  11. Once the oil starts leaving sides, lower the flame and add yoghurt.
  12. Saute well.
  13. Add potatoes. Check for salt and add more according to taste.
  14. Add 1/2 glass of water and bring to boil (You can also add the onion water at this point)
  15. Simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  16. The gravy should look creamy.
  17. Add rest of the ghee and the remaining green chilli slit.
  18. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  19. Serve with luchis.
  20. Sit in your balcony or by your window, put on your favourite ambient music, and watch and hear the rain go by. 

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