Learn how to make Achari Aloo ~ Tangy and spicy baby potato roast with pickling spices
I was staring at the blinking curser on my laptop for the past ten minutes, desperately hoping for some words to come flooding from my mind to tip of my fingers. But alas, my mind seems to have its own agenda and all I can think is summer days where I can lounge away in the beach with a book in my hand, sand on my toes and the warmth of sun rays kissing my face. But at the moment it feels anything but summer as the temperature stubbornly refuses to rise in spite the fact that the days are growing longer…
Spices used for Achari Masala/Pickling Spices for Achari Aloo
After staring at the blinking curser for another five minutes, I decided to step out and get me a nice cup of green tea with ginger and honey to lift my spirit on a grey and windy day. As the kettle hissed as it boiled water, there was a sudden shower of hailstones from the skies, hitting angrily at the glass window panes. The pearls of ice that looked like a thermocol balls looked pretty on the lawn and reminded me of my hostel days in Dharwad where we collected them in buckets to pour them down from the terrace at unsuspecting visitors! The fond memories made me smile and shake head at our silly, harmless pranks. Ah, those carefree days of student life where fun was the mantra of life! My lips curved up with a nostalgic smile and it remained there as I sipped my tea watching the hailstones bounce off the floor and then settle comfortably. Halfway through my cuppa, I saw the clouds part and sun come out with all his glory and kiss the pearls of ice and melt them into a small puddles. Ah, the very unpredictable British weather! One minute it is raining, the next there is hailstones and the moment later the sun is shining only to hide behind the dark clouds as though a naughty boy has been sent back to his room while trying to sneak downstairs after way past his bedtime!
As the weather continues to be indecisive, it feels like it has rubbed off its indecisiveness on me! I enter the kitchen to cook something and end up cooking entirely different from what I had planned! Like this instance when I planned to make Kashmiri Dum Aloo with the bag of new potatoes I picked from a farmer’s market on the weekend, but ended up making Achari Aloo, a delicious and simple recipe of roast potatoes with a freshly ground spices used in making Indian pickles. Since the words seems to have forsaken me, let me talk about this dish today.
Achari Aloo is a dry potato dish with a harmonious blend of tangy and spicy flavours from amchur or dry mango powder and very aromatic pickling spices. I have carefully chosen the pickling spices after many trials and errors to get this perfect combination that works beautifully without one spice overpowering the other. This Achari Aloo is as simple as it gets and is quite forgivable even if you are short of a spice or two listed below. So don’t worry if you don’t have all the spices in your pantry, but please make sure that you do get hold of some dry mango powder from any Indian grocery store or online stores as it is one ingredient that brings a whole dimension to this dish. Although this dish can be made with large boiled and cubed potatoes, I favour the baby potatoes when it comes taste.
The recipe is quite simple and straightforward where boiled and peeled baby potatoes are tossed with a freshly made ground spices. Sounds pretty simple? Well, it is that simple. This is one dish you may not find featured on any Desi restaurants that often, but it is one dish that can be made even on busy weekdays without having to worry about chopping a mini truckload of vegetables. Boiling and peeling some potatoes is not a rocket science and so is making fresh batch of spice powder. Although you can buy readymade Achari Masala or pickling spices from Indian grocery stores, I do highly recommend making a fresh batch as it elevates the dish to whole new level. With all the ingredients in hand, this dish can be made under 30 minutes and you can serve it as a side dish with simple dal and rice or even with yogurt rice or rotis. This makes a wonderful filling for veggie wraps or filling for pitta bread for that go-to lunches. I have packed this dish for weekend trips as it stays fresh at room temperature for 2-3 days without having to worry about storing it in refrigerator. So without further ado, shall we get cooking some delicious Achari Aloo?
Achari Aloo (Spicy roast potatoes with pickling spices)
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Serves: 5-6 people
Shelf Life: 2-3 days at room temperature and up to 5 days in refrigerator
Serving Suggestion: With rice and dal or with any Indian flat breads or kichadi
18-20 Baby Potatoes or 3 large Potatoes
2 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 tsp Jaggery (Optional, but recommended)
2-3 tbsp Fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste
For Achari Masala/Pickling Spice Powder:
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Saunf/Fennel Seeds
½ tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Raai/Mustard Seeds
2 tsp Dhania/Coriander Seeds
¼ tsp Kalonji/Nigella Seeds
½ tsp Ajwain/Carom Seeds
Other Spices Used:
1 tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder (Adjust as per taste)
1½ tsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Raai/Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
2 Dry Red Chillies
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
1½-2 tbsp Oil
- Wash the potatoes and cook them with enough water in a pan or in a pressure cooker. Peel their skins and keep them aside. If using large potatoes, cut them into 2 inch cubes and keep them aside.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat a small pan and add all the spices listed under pickling spices. Roast the spices on low to medium flame for 2-3 minutes until their colour deepens and the aroma of the roasted spices wafts through the kitchen. Roasting the spices releases their essential oils, making them more fragrant and flavourful. Do take care not to burn the spices as they will taste bitter. Let the spices cool down to room temperature before grinding them to coarse powder in a spice grinder or good old pestle and mortar. Keep it aside until needed.
- Finely chop the coriander leaves and keep them in the side.
Proceed to cook:
- Heat oil in a pan on medium flame and once hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, broken dried red chillies and hing.
- Once the mustard and cumin seeds crackle, add ginger-garlic paste and fry them for a minute or until the raw smell disappears.
- Next add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, jaggery, salt to taste and ground pickling spices and mix them well.
- Next add the boiled baby potatoes or cubed potatoes and mix them well so that every potato is coated well with the spice mixture. Let the potatoes roast uncovered for 5-6 minutes on medium flame, stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle the dry mango powder and garam masala and mix them well. Let the potatoes roast for another 2-3 minutes before turning off them flame. Cover the pan and let it rest for 10-15 minutes for all the flavours to blend.
- Garnish with the finely chopped coriander leaves before serving this delicious Achari Aloo with rice and dal or with any Indian flatbreads of your choice. They make a wonderful side dish for kichadi or a lovely filling for wraps or pitta bread.
- This Achari Aloo is as simple as it gets and is quite forgivable even if you are short of a spice or two listed below. So don’t worry if you don’t have all the spices in your pantry, but please make sure that you do get hold of some dry mango powder from any Indian grocery store or online stores as it is one ingredient that brings a whole dimension to this dish.
- Roasting the spices releases their essential oils, making them more fragrant and flavourful. Do take care not to burn the spices as they will taste bitter.
- Although you can buy readymade Achari Masala or pickling spices from Indian grocery stores, I do highly recommend making a fresh batch as it elevates the dish to whole new level.
- This dish can be made with large boiled and cubed potatoes, but I favour the baby potatoes when it comes taste.
- You can serve it as a side dish with simple dal and rice or even with yogurt rice or rotis. This makes a wonderful filling for veggie wraps or filling for pitta bread for that go-to lunches. I have packed this dish for weekend trips as it stays fresh at room temperature for 2-3 days without having to worry about storing it in refrigerator.