Friday, 15 May 2015

Aludam - Nepalese spiced potatoes

Many years ago, my husband was an officer in the Brigade of Gurkhas. While he was serving, one of my friends was a lovely lady called Sita Gurung. We've not been in touch with each other since our husbands both left the Army, 30 years ago, and over the last few weeks I've been thinking about her, and wondering whether they moved back to Nepal and if so, whether they are safe after the terrible earthquakes that have struck the country.

Sita is the lady who gave me one of the most treasured recipes in my collection - Aludam or spicy potatoes (not to be confused with the Indian dish, Aloo Dum, which has a very different flavour and texture). It used to be served every time there was a function in the Officers' Mess, either as a nibble on cocktail sticks or as a side dish to a curry or barbecue. And I have to confess, that when I was expecting my second baby, I developed such a craving for it that I would sometimes drive to the camp and beg for a plateful at the door of the cookhouse!

There are lots of versions of the recipe, and somewhere I have a copy of the one used in the cookhouse, but I tend not to make things in batches of 350 servings at a time, so I prefer to use Sita's version from her own hand written recipe. She gave it to me 30 years ago and I have used it, and passed it on to friends, many, many times since.

It's getting rather hard to read, and the numbers on it aren't quantities, they are just a good old military style numbered list of items! There are no exact quantities, she explained, you just use what you have to hand and what you feel like using at the time. You can vary the amount of spices and the proportions of the various vegetables and potatoes, and change between tinned, fresh and purée for the tomatoes, so you never get exactly the same dish twice.

To take the eyestrain and guesswork out of it for you, here is a recipe with quantities that work for me.

500g cold boiled potatoes
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2cm x 3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato purée OR 200g tinned chopped tomatoes OR 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped (I used fresh tomatoes in the dish I photographed)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
salt to taste
fresh coriander to garnish (I omit that as my husband is allergic to it)

Cut the potatoes into chunks about 2cm across.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fenugreek seeds for a few seconds, then add the onions and cook until soft and light brown. Add ginger and garlic, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the spices, then add the tomatoes or purée and mix well. If using fresh tomatoes, cook for a couple of minutes until they soften. When everything has cooked to a pulp, stir in the potatoes and cook very gently until heated through. Sprinkle with coriander and serve.

If you've enjoyed reading this recipe, I would love it if you considered making a donation to the Gurkha Welfare Trust's Nepal Earthquake Appeal. You can find out more about the Trust on their website and read about their work in response to the earthquake, as well as finding out how to donate, here. There are lots of ways to donate - you can even do it by sending a simple text message.

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I'm submitting this to Recipe Clippings - your "most used" or "most shared" at Farmersgirl Kitchen.

and #CookBlogShare 14 at Supergolden Bakes



Unknown said...

this is such an adorable story and I think, what blogging is all about. You have that recipe for ever and now you've shared it with us so it will always be on line and the memory will carry on. There must be a way to get hold of your old friend and I'm sure she'd love to hear from you both. xx

Unknown said...

What a wonderful way to remember an old friend. I still have recipe clippings and scribbles from years ago falling out of long-forgotten cookbooks. Hope you can get in touch with your friend... thanks for linking with #CookBlogShare

Unknown said...

I'm loveing all your recipes and cards I'm now a follower so I can look forward to even more Debbs xx

Janice said...

Now that's what I call a well used recipe! Thanks so much for linking up to Recipe Clippings.

Anonymous said...


My husband also served with the Gurkhas in Brunei, I also have a recipe from a dear friend Kamala. Today i have started my curry and for a change i am going to try your Aludum.

Like you we had a great two year posting with the Gurkhas my family loved and enjoyed our time with the families, the families where so caring, Kamala also helped me with there traditions, holidays and several other events.
Thank you for bring my memories back