Dahi wale alu, baby potatoes in aromatic yogurt curry
I had stopped cooking this quick curry we call dai wale alu for a long time because the potatoes were not the most favoured vegetables in Delhi. Only the new potatoes in winter were good and dahi alu was always considered a summer curry because of its quick cooking time and also because it is such a light curry to go with soft chapatis or parathas or even as a meal on its own. Yes dahi wale alu can be made like a creamy potato salad with a mild kick of chillies and a pleasant tartness of dahi (homemade cultured yogurt), made aromatic with curry leaves (karipatta) and asafoetida.
We are getting very good pahadi alu (mountain potatoes) in Dehradun and naturally our potato consumption has gone up. I always prefer dahi wale alu with baby potatoes for the waxy texture of potatoes that gives a pleasant textural contrast but I have seen many others making dahi wale alu with large boiled potatoes mashed up in the dahi to make it look like a kadhi and that’s version is good too. In fact it is such a versatile simple curry that once you fix the flavour balance to your liking, you can do a lot with dahi wale alu. You can add boiled black gram (kala chana) or cubes of paneer for variation, chopped spinach or bathua (chinopodium or goosefoot leaves) to make it green and more wholesome. All these variations will become a favourite of everyone who likes dahi and alu and there are few who don’t.
Take care to make a big batch always because everyone will ask for more helpings and will look forward to the leftovers too. This curry reheats well with a dash of water added.
If you want a textural contrast of dahi and alu, you must use baby potatoes, boil them and cool them completely before cooking this variation of dahi wale alu. If you want the creamy kadhi type dahi wale alu you can use larger potatoes, boil them, peel them while warm and mash them before proceeding to cook dahi wale alu that looks like kadhi.
(Serves three or four)
500 gm baby potatoes boiled, cooled, peeled and cut into halves (or large potatoes as described above)
300 g dahi, slightly tart dahi is preferable
8-10 dry red chillies broken (use more than you think is enough because dahi neutralises the chilli heat)
10 sprigs of curry leaves rinsed and chopped
A generous pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp of rai (small brown mustard seeds)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp mustard oil (use peanut oil if you don’t have mustard oil)
Salt to taste
Heat the mustard oil in a deep pan and tip in the rai seeds, asafoetida, broken red chillies and curry leaves in that order, quickly, to make an aromatic tadka. Once the tadka is sizzling, lower the heat and add the turmeric powder and dump the chopped boiled potatoes over it. Add salt and stir to mix while cranking up the heat again. Keep stirring till the potatoes are well coated and start getting a little brownish. At this point you can smash a few of them if you like.
If using large potatoes, mash them roughly and proceed just like we did with baby potatoes above.
Whisk the dahi really well. Lower the heat and pour the dahi over cooking potatoes. Mix well and simmer for just about two minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature, depending on what you want to serve with this dahi wale alu.
If you want to add boiled black gram or paneer, add once the potatoes are mixed with with the tadka ingredients and then add whisked dahi and proceed. If adding chopped spinach or bathua, you can add along with the potatoes and cook till the greens wilt.
Dahi wale alu tastes great with hot rotis or parathas or even pooris and it can be one of those quick meals you make for hungry kids or sudden guests. If you use hung curd or thick set dahi you can serve it as a salad as well. We eat this dahi wale alu with our multigrain dosa too sometimes.