Alur Tarkari: Delectable Bengali Potato Curry
Image Credit: Aloo turki

Among many unique ways of making food, Bengalis really do excel in making  aloo dishes, a quintessential meal favourite for them . Nevertheless, potato has become a big part of Bengali tradition as they pop up on every occasion, in every cuisine and win everyone’s hearts alike.

We all need a quick, versatile yet straightforward dish in our recipe collection. Alur Tarkari is the something that checks all these requirements. Aloor Tarkari is a bright, warm yellow coloured Bengali style Potato gravy dish. Chunky potato pieces are cooked spices and green chilli flavoured oil, then simmered in a peppery, herby savoury liquid till the potatoes become soft, fluffy, moist, and the liquid transformed to a gravy texture. It goes well for Sunday Breakfast with Luchi or Porota. In Bengali cooking, Tarkari refers to any semi gravy dish. Tarkari is mainly flavoured by adding whole spices into the hot oil.

How Bengal met its true love; Potato-

Up until the 16th century, the potato was only native to Peru and was not found anywhere else. Christopher Columbus' explorations opened up other sections of the world and its bounty, resulting in the Columbian Exchange. As a result, the potato was able to move from its original location and over oceans to almost every continent in the world. The Portuguese and Dutch settlers who first came to India were the ones who brought potato with them. However, the impact of potatoes at that time was modest and gradually expanding. As the popularity of potatoes expanded throughout time, they were being cultivated all over Bengal and in the highlands of northern India by the 19th century.

1. 500 g potatoes

2. 20 g mustard oil

3. 2 pcs dried red chillies

4. 1⁄4 tsp hing (asafoetida)

5. 1 tsp panch phoron

6. 12 g ginger

7. 3 g green chillies

8. 5 g spice mix (see recipe below)

9. 1⁄2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder

10. 5 g sugar

1‍1.  1 g salt

12. 1⁄4 tsp kasuri methi

13. 5 g beetnoon (black salt)

14. 300 g hot water

1‍5. 5 g boiled motor (whole yellow peas)

16. 4 g cumin powder

17. 5 g coriander powder

18. 4 g turmeric powder

19. 3 g red chilli powder

20. 2 g amchur powder (dried-mango powder)

21. 2 g gorom moshla

22. 6 g chaat masala

Procedure for preparing Alur Tarkari:

1. Combine cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, aamchur powder, gorom moshala, and chaat masala, in the proportions given

2. Soak motor (whole yellow peas) overnight, boil them the next morning, drain the water and set aside

3. Soak potatoes in water and scrub them clean (Don’t peel the potatoes; the potato skin adds flavour)

4. Cut the potatoes into 3-cm cubes

5. Chop green chillies and ginger, crush them using a mortar pestle into a fine paste, with a pinch of salt

6. Heat mustard oil in a kadai until it smokes gently and changes colour to a pale yellow

7. Temper with dried red chillies, add hing (asafoetida) and fry for 10 seconds then add panch phoran and wait until the methi (fenugreek) in it turns red then add the ginger and green chilli paste, fry everything on low heat for 30 seconds

8. Add 5 g of the spice mix that you prepared earlier, also add kashmiri red chilli powder and sugar, fry the spices on low heat for 30 seconds (Be careful not to burn them)

9. Now, add the potatoes and stir to coat them with the spices, add salt and mix everything well 

10. Now, put the lid on and sauté with spices on medium heat for 6 minutes

11. Crush some kasuri methi and beetnoon and sprinkle it over the potatoes

12. Add the boiled motor

13. Add 300 g hot water to form the gravy and cover and let simmer until the potatoes are cooked

14. The starch from potatoes will thicken the gravy, but in case it doesn't happen, mash a couple of potato pieces and mix them with the gravy 

15. Serve hot with luchi or porota.

The perfect alur tarkari is fuss-free, always on time, delicious, and a show-stopper. This cuisine is a mood, not just one of the culinary stars of Bengal.