This year, it rained like never before. It poured cats and dogs. Waking up to the sound of water gushing down, no sunshine is almost a routine for a month now. The rain in North India always seems more dramatic somehow than rain anywhere else I have been before. Largely, because when it rains for a while, the streets begin to flood with water in a most disgusting fashion; perhaps using boats and knee-high boots seems like a sensible decision to reach your destination. Being house arrested due to rain for days we have ample time to read, cook, chatter and capture the mood of the season in digital frames. The sound of the rain, beating down heavily on the windowpanes – is enough to break the afternoon silence. I find myself oddly pleased in the midst of this raining chaos to continue the normal humdrum of life: cooking and writing. Hence, the weather is perfect to talk about this simple, unglamorous Pahadi Aloo Paani Recipe that makes me feel grounded, happy, contented and connected to my Kumaoni roots.
My extended family lived in the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand during my entire childhood, and we would go up and visit them during the long summer holidays. It was all surreal, the crisp air, wilderness and the sun that plays peek a boo in between the high mountains. Even till date, I am entranced by it all and the kind of local dishes we used to devour during our summer holidays. Simple, subtle and the most soul comforting kind of food. Curries such as Aloo Paani illustrates how the best of local and seasonal produce can be transformed into a hearty bowl of curry.
The hilly ranges of Kumaon are well known for a specific variety of potato – Pahadi Aloo, there is a hint of sweetness in these potatoes, perfect to make Aloo Ke Gutke and Aloo Paani. For those who are intrigued by the name of the curry – it is nothing but the no onion/garlic stew prepared with only potato and plenty of water.
Aloo Paani is best eaten with steaming hot rice. Adding freshly crushed whole spices to the Aloo Paani is my great grandmother’s trick, who was an excellent cook. I wish I could have inherited the natural cooking instincts like her’s. In her kitchen, Aloo Paani was always cooked on a wood fire in a cast iron kadhai, eaten with fingers along with Kachori or steamed rice. I don’t cook Aloo Paani over a wood fire, unfortunately, I don’t have one yet. I love it with just plain rice like a true Kumaoni would devour it.
With that, I’ll leave you with the Aloo Paani Recipe. Learn how to make Aloo Paani Recipe in few simple steps. For more Kumaoni recipes, follow our Pinterest Board dedicated to such amazing Kumaoni recipes.
Pahadi Aloo Paani (Aloo ki Sabzi)
- 3 - 4 medium-size potato
- 1 tsp cumin seeds jeera
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds methi dana
- a pinch of asafoetida hing
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 - 2 green chili slited
- 4 tbsp mustard oil
Ingredients to grind
- half inch piece of cinnamon dal chini
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
- a small piece of black cardamom badi elaichi
- 2 cloves laung
- Start with grinding the whole spices in mortar and pestle to a coarse powder. You can do the same in mixer as well but I stick to mortar and pestle for making spice powders in small quantity.
- Next peel the potatoes, wash and pat dry them with a kitchen towel.
- Cut each potato into equal halves.
- Place one potato piece in between the kitchen towel and smash it with a rolling pin. The idea is to break the potato into uneven chunks. Similarly, smash the remaining potato pieces. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat oil in a cast iron kadhai ( buy it here ) over high flame. Once the mustard oil starts fuming, reduce the flame to low.
- Add cumin, fenugreek and asafoetida. Stir for few seconds.
- Add coriander powder, green chili, stir and then add potato chunks.
- Fry the potato chunks for 3 - 5 minutes stirring occasionally in between.
- Next add turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. Stir to mix.
- Fry the potato for 3 - 5 more minutes.
- Add 1 Cup of water, cover the skillet with a lid and let the curry simmer over low heat.
- After 10 minutes, open the lid and check potato for doneness. If potatoes are bit uncooked from the centre simmer the curry covered for few more minutes. If potato are cooked through, gently mash them with the back of the ladle.
- Add the spice powder prepared in step 1 along with 2 Cups of more water. Aloo Paani as the name suggest is a watery curry so don't hesitate while adding water.
- Simmer the curry for 10 more minutes uncovered over low heat.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve Aloo Paani with Poori ( see recipe )
- or steamed rice for lunch/dinner.