If you thought only Bengalis love eating mutton curries with potatoes, this recipe from the bylanes of Old Delhi will prove you wrong. So beloved is this traditional dish that even the name it goes by celebrates potatoes, but not mutton. Here’s more about this Aloo Salan along with an authentic recipe.
When people, both local Delhiites and tourists, visit Old Delhi—especially the Jama Masjid area—they often want to try out the most famous dishes found in the area. These include everything from phirni and sharbat to raan, biryani, niharis and kormas. But ask a true-blue Old Delhi person what their favourite dish to eat at home is, and high chances are that they will say it is Aloo Salan.
A beloved, homely curry with Mughlai origins, Aloo Salan proves that it is not only Bengalis who love potatoes cooked with meat. In fact, Aloo Salan is so beloved among Old Delhiites that the very name celebrates potatoes and skips the mutton. “No party at home is complete without it,” wrote the late writer Sadia Dehlvi in her book, Jasmine & Jinns: Memories and Recipes of My Delhi. “Friends crave aloo salan and I find myself sharing the recipe all the time.”
So, what is it that makes Aloo Salan such a fantastic favourite among people from Old Delhi? It is of course, the salan or gravy. At first look, you might easily confuse Aloo Salan with Aloo Gosht because both have a deep brown gravy, but the difference lies in the making of this salan. While Aloo Gosht’s gravy is made with mutton fried and cooked with onions, Aloo Salan’s gravy calls for a paste of fried onions and yoghurt or curd. The addition of this blend makes Aloo Salan’s gravy smooth, balanced and nuanced.
Video credit: YouTube/Ruby Ka Kitchen
The other thing that makes this potato and mutton curry a standout is the fact that you don’t need to slave over a stove for hours to make it. As Sadia Dehlvi mentions in her book, it is quite okay to depend on a pressure cooker to make Aloo Salan as long as you initially stir fry the mutton properly with the cooker lid open. Get this bhoonai or stir-frying right and you can easily make Aloo Salan at home within an hour! Here’s the recipe.
5 potatoes, peeled and halved
4 onions, sliced
5 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
4 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsp red chilli powder
4 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup oil
2 cups water
Salt, to taste
Coriander leaves, to garnish
1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and add the sliced onions.
2. Fry the onions until brown then drain the onions.
3. Transfer the onions into a mixie jar.
4. Add the curd and grind the both together until you get a brown paste.
5. Now, reheat the oil and add the green cardamom, black cardamom and cloves.
6. Mix the chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, coriander powder and salt with some water in a bowl.
7. Add the powder masalas to the oil and lightly fry until the spices are no longer raw.
8. Add the mutton and mix well, and keep stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes.
9. Now add the blended onion and curd mixture.
10. Mix well and let the mutton and gravy cook for another 10-15 minutes.
11. Now add water, seal the pressure cooker and cook for two whistles.
12. Once the pressure is released, add the potatoes, seal again and cook for another whistle.
13. Open the pressure cooker and check the mutton and potatoes.
14. If both are done, then sprinkle garam masala and coriander leaves on top.
15. Serve hot with naan, khamiri roti, rice and/or raita.