The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Of Spice And Spud

It’s a conspiracy. No doubt about it. A conspiracy I tell you.

The fact of the matter is that London-based Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar is being thwarted in all of his attempts to meet me.

First, it was the January snow that scuppered travel from the UK and resulted in the cancellation of Atul’s one day course at the Dublin Cookery School, which I was due to attend. Then it was the preponderance of volcanic ash in the airspace hereabouts that meant he was unable to travel for the rescheduled date this weekend.

Much admired for his masterful use of spices, I had really hoped, by now, to be in a position to reveal Atul’s thoughts on the subject of spices for spuds, but there are forces at work that have determined otherwise. Perhaps it is the case that Atul is simply not ready to meet me yet – it’s a naturally big step in any chef’s career – but I rather fancy he can handle it.

And so, while I wait to hear of a new date for my tuition in the ways of Indian spicing, I content myself with using Atul’s rather wonderful book, Indian Essence, as my spicy guide. These potatoes with cashew nuts are a great example of where that can lead.

Potatoes Cooked With Cashew Nuts (Aloo Dum)

Aloo Dum

This is slightly modified from a recipe in Atul Kochhar’s Indian Essence.

The recipe as given in the book is for potatoes cooked with melon seeds. However, not having any melon seeds, I used the suggested alternative of cashew nuts. I have also reduced the amount of oil used and skipped the initial frying of the potatoes. There are a couple of other minor tweaks, based on the ingredients I had to hand, but the essence of this wonderfully aromatic sauce remains.

You’ll need:
  • 2 tblsp cashew nuts
  • vegetable oil for frying (I used grapeseed oil)
  • 2 medium onions, about 300g, thinly sliced
  • 500-600g baby new potatoes or any waxy variety of potato
  • 375g natural yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp chopped ginger root
  • 0.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 0.25 cayenne pepper
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 0.5 tsp fennel seeds
  • Seeds from 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander plus extra for garnish
You’ll also need:
  • A blender or food processor for blending parts of the sauce plus a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
The Steps:
  • Soak the cashew nuts in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and blend to a paste using a blender or mini food processor.
  • Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add about 2 tblsp of oil. Add the onions and stir and fry until softened and starting to brown, around 10-15 minutes. Remove and leave to drain and cool on a paper towel.
  • Meanwhile, scrub and peel the potatoes. If using baby new potatoes, you can leave them whole. For larger potatoes, cut into slices around 1cm thick.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend the fried onions and yoghurt until smooth.
  • Heat another tblsp of oil in the frying pan and add the garlic and ginger. Stir and fry over a medium heat until golden brown, around 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, coriander and cayenne to the pan, stir briefly, then add the yoghurt and onion mix and the cashew nut paste. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Add the potatoes, water and salt, bring back to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Meanwhile, toast the cinnamon, fennel and cardamom in a small heavy frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then grind to a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  • When the potatoes are cooked through, add the toasted spice powder and chopped coriander and stir to mix.
  • You could serve this, garnished with additional fresh coriander, alongside other Indian dishes and breads. I also fancy that this could be used to accompany a simple piece of steamed white fish or chicken.
The Variations:
  • You could certainly cook other veg or meat in this sauce along with the spuds – chicken, I think, would work well, or chunks of juicy paneer along with some green beans or peas perhaps.
The Results:
  • Serves 2-3 as side-dish.

14 Comments

  1. You and Chef Atul do seem to be star-crossed (albeit of the Michelin variety.) But hope springs eternal, so he may yet be fortunate enough to finally find himself in your presence. In the meantime, Aloo Dum is a tasty proxy!

    This is definitely a dish to try, though with one question: it’s easy enough to make the nut paste, but could I use cashew butter? As soon as I get a hold of a cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, I’m ready for this!

  2. Daily Spud

    Monday, April 19, 2010 at 11:47 am

    TN, I’m sure that a couple of spoons of cashew butter would do nicely as a substitute – I do hope you get to give this a try, the sauce has lovely layers of flavour. And I do hope that I manage to cross paths with Chef Atul someday, my cooking will be the better for it I’m sure!

  3. This looks wonderful. I love cashews and I can see that they work delightfully in this dish.

  4. I’ve never had a potato dish like this, it sounds wicked good.

  5. Yum – love all the spices, wish I could taste this right now! You’ve got me curious about the melon seeds the original recipe called for. Are they like pumpkin seeds? Cashew paste sounds like a delicious substitute, I often throw ground cashews in as a thickener whenever I’m making butter chicken.

  6. Yum! I love the idea of cooking fish or chicken in the sauce with the potato. Another great recipe, thank you.

  7. In my health food cafe we used cashews to mimic cream in dishes, and I can imagine this would be so tasty- I am a big fan of Indian flavors, and cook with them often- tators just make everything on a deeper level in flavor!

    Speaking of something I keep trying to ask you, but I had an Irish cheese with a porter stout cheese, I will email you the pic, to see if you have had it, all I can say is OH MY GOSH it rocked my world!

  8. You’ll meet him…don’t fret. Keep on cookin’ dishes like this one though. The cashew and potato combination sounds great.

  9. I also love his cooking!! He certainly rocks!!

    I think he is mind blowing with his recipes!! He is also very noble!!

    You rock with this potato salad too! I think that substituting the cashews fore the melon seeds is a huge winner!

    I am so going to make this,…MMMMMM!

  10. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Fearless Kitchen: they do indeed work delightfully :)

    Bob: it is wicked good, Bob, it is!

    Phyllis: I’d imagine that the melon seeds are like pumpkin seeds (well, they certainly look a bit like them) – but have never cooked with them before, though, so I can’t say for sure…

    Caroline: I think I need the fish book too :) I had some fabulous fish in Ananda at Christmas, would love to recreate

    Lynda: I’m definitely going to try this with fish myself

    Chef E: I know how you like your Indian flavours, so I thought you might like this :) Do send me a picture of the cheese, I can’t think that I’ve had porter stout cheese, but I think I need to!

    Duo Dishes: it is great, guys, you’d love it :)

    Sophie: Hope you like the dish! I love his cooking myself – I got to eat in his restaurant in London once – would love to eat there again.

  11. Wow this does sound yummy, there’s something about potato based Indian dishes that makes my heart beat faster. I look forward to trying your version.

    We have a Latino market not too far from us and they sell both melon and pumpkin seeds, and while they look very similar they are treated as something different.

  12. Indian spiced potatoes are one of the best ways to enjoy them! I may need to make these tonight, to serve on the side of whatever we grill….

  13. Daily Spud

    Monday, May 3, 2010 at 1:27 am

    OysterCulture: it’s extremely yummy :) I am now curious to try melon seeds sometime to see what they’re like and if, by chance, they are anything like cashews – if they are, I think I’ll be investing in some!

    Haley: hope you enjoy, I’m sure they’ll be a worthy accompaniment for whatever you decide to grill

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