Niramish Dum Aloo – Spice Coated Baby Potatoes

Niramish Dum Aloo - Spice Coated Baby Potatoes

Potatoes have always been a comfort food. And Dum Aloo will always have a special place. Tiny little potatoes which are cooked slowly and coated with spice will always be a dish to make me swoon.

There is a certain extent of soothing calm in this simple homey dish; a lot of which probably comes from the sweet memories of the winter time and spending time in the kitchen with maa. With the advent of the chilly winter air, the tiny little potatoes with flaky paper thin skins began to flood the bazaar.

We call these potatoes, “Notun Aloo” (new potatoes or the potatoes from the first harvest). They are about the size of the ping pong ball, or even smaller.

baby potatoes

The typical scene in the kitchen with my maa on a relaxed winter evening lingers; of shelling fresh peas and  rubbing the thin but slightly muddy skins off the potatoes. Breads were to be stuffed with the peas and little potatoes would end up in Dum Aloo. And here I dive deep into nostalgia.  It amazes me how these  memories create an overwhelming surge of happiness within me, but tinged with pain.

During those years we did not have access to all the vegetables all year round. Instead we looked forward to each season to enjoy the fruits and vegetables offered only for those few months. The winter brought in deep orange carrots, sweet tomatoes, fragrant cauliflowers, fresh peas, oranges, misthti aloo (sweet potatoes) and notun aloo.  The taste and flavors of these seasonal vegetables were distinct and memorable and the reason that made us wait all year long. The “notun aloo” which I so miss, has its own rustic charm no where to be found now where we live.

Baby Potatoes for Dum Aloo - recipe

Toss the pierced potatoes with salt and turmeric and shallow fry them until light golden…

There are a zillion ways to cook Dum Aloo (well may be that is an exaggeration but you get the point).  There are so many that they are even marked by names of the region.  Not only do the ingredients and the spices for Dum Aloo vary from one region to another, but every household might have a different way to cook this particular dish.

Niramish Dum Aloo

The basic concept of Dum Aloo is cooking potatoes with spices in a tight well covered pot, until the flavors of the spices infuse and the potatoes are tender. (Dum = cooking process in a tightly covered pot where steam is not allowed to escape,  Aloo = potatoes.).

Niramish Dum Aloo Diptych

Braise the golden fried potatoes with pastes and spices and cook in a tightly covered pot until potatoes are tender.

The north Indian Dum Aloo is rich; simmered in a cream or yogurt sauce, often with the addition of nuts and raisins, it is a delightful dish to savor. In West Bengal, Dum Aloo for special occasions is cooked in the similar fashion with ghee, cream and nuts, but the quick everyday affair is quite different. I have mentioned before that Bengali cuisine has plenty of recipes where no onion or garlic is used; these are the niramish (satvic) recipes. The widows have rigorous dietary restrictions and with my grandma at home, most of the food that were cooked every day had no use of onion and garlic. These dishes make comforting, light, and simple meals.

Niramish Dum Aloo- Spice Coated Baby Potatoes

The Niramish Dum Aloo is definitely a much simpler version of the classic more popular Dum Aloo.  Once in a while, some yogurt would be used, but during winter fresh juicy tomatoes were used to thicken the sauce and have the little tart in it. The weekends were special when ma made Aloor Dum (= Dum Aloo) and Luchi (Poori made with enriched flour) or peas stuffed breads.

Niramish Dum Aloo - Spice Coated Baby Potatoes

Niramish Dum Aloo – Spice Coated Baby Potatoes

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a side)

  1. 15 baby potatoes (about ping pong ball size) *
  2. 1 tablespoon oil + 1.5 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon turmeric, divided
  4. salt to taste
  5. a pinch of sugar (this balances the taste if the tomatoes are tart, but will not make the dish sweet)
  6. 1 -1.5 cup grated ripe tomato (the tomatoes will make this dish a tiny bit tangy and it is meant to be that way. Reduce the amount if you do not like the tang)
  7. 2 tablespoon ginger paste
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  9. 2 dry red chili pepper
  10. 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  11. 1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander powder
  12. a generous pinch of hing/asafoetida
  13. 2-4 green chili pepper, or to taste – slit
  14. 1 teaspoon ghee (optional)
  15. 3/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or garam masala (optional)

*Note: If you are using potatoes with red skin or very thin skin, you may leave the skin on. If you are not using baby potatoes, simply dice the potatoes into smaller pieces.


Peel and wash the potatoes. Using a fork, pierce holes in the potatoes; approx. 6-8 times with a fork for a small baby potato. Soak them in salted water for about 10 minutes. In the mean time, in a large pot bring water to a roaring boil. Add salt. Remove the potatoes and drain. Put all the potatoes in the boiling water and cook at high heat for 2-3 minutes only. The potatoes need to be only partly coked.

Remove potatoes from water and drain. Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and half teaspoon salt to the partially cooked potatoes. Toss well to combine.

In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Carefully place the potatoes in the hot oil and cook at moderate to high heat while tossing them frequently and scrapping off the bottom of the pan. The potatoes should be golden brown all over. (you will see the spots where they have come in contact with the pan). When golden brown, remove potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Combine the grated tomatoes, ginger paste, salt, sugar, coriander powder, red chili powder and the rest of the turmeric.

In the same pan, add the rest of the oil and heat the oil. When the oil is shimmering hot, add the red dry chili pepper and the hing/asafoetida. Few seconds later, add the cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle, carefully pour in the tomato ginger and spice mix. Allow this to cook at moderate to high heat for about 5-8 minutes.  The cooking time will vary with the water content of the tomatoes and ginger paste. Keep stirring occasionally so the spice mix does not stick to the bottom of the pan. When you see the mix reduced and the oil separating from the sides and bubbling the mix is cooked. Add the partially cooked fried potatoes to the pan and toss well for all the spice mix to coat the potatoes well. Cook for 2 minutes and then add about 1/2 cup of warm water and tightly cover the lid of the pan.

Cook at low to moderate heat, until the potatoes are fork tender, but they should by no way be falling apart. When done, uncover and cook at high heat to have the extra moisture evaporate. There should not be much sauce left, only enough to coat the potatoes. (if you need more sauce, add a tiny bit of water, some more tomatoes if you want  – while cooking and mash a couple of potatoes with the back of the spoon once cooked.)

Now add the slit green chili peppers and lots of fresh cilantro and toss. Switch off the heat. Finish off with some ghee and a sprinkle of roasted cumin powder or garam masala.

Serve hot with any flat bread. But this is best with paratha or poori.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4 as side

Niramish Dum Aloo

Related Posts:

Dum Aloo/Potatoes Simmered in Spices and Coconut Milk

Stir Fried Green Beans and Potatoes with Coriander

Potatoes with Indian Five Spice

Poppy Seed and Chickpea Crusted Potatoes

From around the blog world:

Sandeepa’s Niramish Dum Aloo

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33 comments to Niramish Dum Aloo – Spice Coated Baby Potatoes

  • I absolutely love the photographs, Soma! The board looks beautiful and so does the dum aloo. Mine is a little different but I am sure I will hog yours till you decide it does not require cleaning. They look so delicious.

  • Chobigulo dekhe ki khide peyegelo ki bolbo! Ebare dubaar notun aloo elo dubaar e amar bor tandoori aloo khabe bollo. Winter jawar agey ekbaar alur dom banaboi. 🙂

  • That looks really delicious. Yes, there are a zillion different sum a loo recipes but each one is special in it’s own way. Will try this too sometime!

  • Ben

    Anything that is spice coated is good, even fruit! These potatoes look fantastic.

  • Deepa

    Dum Aloo looks simply yummy and inviting.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  • Ooooh these look totally delicious. I love your nostalgic story, how sweet. The photos are really quite beautiful and I am bookmarking this to make. I love those ingredients. Have a lovely weekend.

  • Those potatoes look mighty scrumptious! I really like that coating. Yummilicious.



  • I certainly cannot resist potatoes. And potatoes cooked that way and those amazing pictures. Oh my.

  • As a kid when we used to travel from Shillong to Kolkata by train, there was this railway station where the train used to stop for about 30 mins I guess. We always .. always used to order something similar. Don’t remember if they used to add onions or not but it was spicy and so yum 🙂
    Love the photos .. gorgeous !

  • Love potatoes and these sound wonderful wrapped up in all those spices. Your photos make me want to eat them right off the page 🙂

  • your post reminded me of my Ma and those winter evenings of making Alur Dom and Koraishutir Kochuri….thank u 🙂

    Beautiful pics…I need to make one of these boars soon…lovely colours! 🙂

  • What beautiful pictures…again. You make me want to cook curry. I saw some darling little new potatoes at Whole Foods. I think this is the ticket for those little darlings.

  • Looks & sounds lovely. Are you using fresh hing?

    Dear Lakshmi,

    Yes I use fresh hing (if you mean the ones that do not come powdered). I still have some left from India, in quite big chunks and I grind it for a few days. The aroma is very very strong compared to the powdered ones. But I am running low and I forgot to get them this time 🙁


  • Great recipe with an equally great photography. you have got me drooling soma 🙂

  • That looks so very delicious.. I always saw and make dum aloo with gravy. This is the first time i see this version. Thanks a lot for sharing!! Love all ur pics!!

  • I always make* … sorry for the typo

  • poked potato look adorable, somehow it brought a smile, as always your pic are beautiful!!

  • That’s what I thought from the order of your tempering. Lucky you! I love the fragrance of raw hing & ghee, ah!

    I have another question for you, if you don’t mind. We celebrate Gaura Purnima on Thursday and serve “ekadasi prashad”. Technically it is not ekadasi, but we don’t use grains (not so strict about fasting from spices like mustard and powdered turmeric and hing, though). Instead of rice, I was thinking of making fluffy sabudana khicdhi with peanuts and narkel. Last time I made it I used tapioca instead of sago, and it didn’t come out nicely at all. Do you have any tricks about tapioca, how to keep it dry and separate. I will try to get sago tomorrow, but if it is not available, I would have to use tapioca. Or omit it all together, because there is nothing worse than sticky and gluey mush. Thank you for your time ♥

  • Got to try this niramish version sometimes. Love dum aloo ! And great pics as always

  • Soma, first of all lovely pics as usual and I love anything spicy and love aloo…my mouth is watering!

  • What an awesome space u have here. Just love your space!! Love the clicks and all the recipes 🙂

  • What lovely clicks, like those rugged pieces of cloths under the bowl..never heard this version of Dum aloo, need to give a try soon!

  • You’re right there’s such comfort in a good potato dish like this, it just soothes you when you eat it.

  • I would eat this with warm rice. Great post, Soma 🙂

  • my weakness .. potatoes .. and baby potatoes with simple spices! yumm

  • These potatoes look MOORISH! Thanks for sharing – I’ll have to try them soon.

  • These photos show just how flavorful and delectable these potatoes are. Potatoes are indeed comfort food, the most basic, filling and tasty – the simplest thing we can prepare and they go with everything. My husband boils them, I roast them and we add them to stews. But your wonderful potatoes add that spicy Indian twist that I so love and want to try. You have lifted the otherwise homey and mundane potato into something really quite spectacular!

  • Maryjo

    I made this recipe today and thought it was fabulous! As I wasn’t feeding a crowd, I’m already thinking about the leftovers — so I’m planning a another meal with them w/adding some fresh peas, and then put what is left from that “squished/slightly mashed inro a pita pocket with some greens and hummus. Your instructions were spot on — many hanks 🙂

    Thank you so much for trying it out and taking your time to write back to me! The pita pocket idea is so good 😉

  • This dish looks lovely, have saved for another day, thanks.

    You are welcome to join in my food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  • U r so true …. potatoes are real comfort food. There would be hardly anyone who hates potatoes. I have just got a bag of baby potatoes and the clicks are sure inspiring to try these soon and pair it with some pooris’ .

  • […] covetable appetizer from Indian cooking, eCurry brings us Niramish Dum Aloo, or spice coated baby potatoes. It’s really quite simple — that is once you’ve […]

  • Mary Ann

    This recipe came out very well. Thank you for sharing. My hub loved it too. It is a delicious dish and perfect for rice.

  • these look totally delicious.. Love the clicks and all the recipes.Thank you for sharing..

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