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The Eternal Favourite: Potatoes and Mustard Oil


All over India, different regions have varied recipes for a dish popularly known as Dam Alu. The Kashmiri chefs have a version that is radically different from the recipe evolved by Avadhi chefs. Today we look at a version of Dam Alu that comes from Bengal.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  1. Potatoes: 500 grams

  2. Mustard Oil: 2 tablespoon

  3. Sesame (Til) Seeds: 100 grams

  4. Paanch Phoran: 1 teaspoon

  5. Juice of Lemon (Nimbu): 2 lemons

  6. Dry Red Chillies: 2

  7. Green Chillies: 4

  8. Salt: to taste

Paanch Phoran is a mixture of five spices that forms a staple for recipes in the eastern part of India. The five spices are: Fenugreek seeds (Methi), Nigella seeds (Kalonji), Cumin seeds (Jeera), Mustard seeds (Sarson) and Fennel seeds (Saunf).


Boil the potatoes and then peel them. Cut each potato into four parts. This dish is traditionally made with small (lemon-sized) potatoes. If you can get these, you don’t have to cut them into pieces.

Lightly roast the sesame seeds in a frying pan. Grind the roasted sesame seeds with green chillies and salt. Use this mixture to coat the potato pieces – then pour in the lemon juice and keep aside.


Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the red chillies and the Paanch Phoran and sauté lightly, making sure that the spices don’t get burnt. A good indicator is your nose: when the rich aroma of the Paanch Phoran wafts to your nostrils, remove the pan from the flame.

Now pour the Mustard Oil and spices gravy over the potatoes. Cover with a lid and let it cool. This is a dish that is served only when it has cooled down.

You can serve it as a snack or as a side dish. And as any Bengali food lover will tell you – it vanishes very quickly!

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