Spicy, warm Aloo Masala is comfort food at its best. This potato curry is brimming with aromatic spices and tender potatoes to create an easy recipe you’ll want to make for every weeknight meal and special occasion.
Aloo Masala is one of my favorite street foods to grab in Pakistan on my visits home. But luckily with this recipe, I can make mouthwatering Aloo Masala right at home.
What is Aloo Masala?
Aloo Masala directly translates to “potatoes” (aloo) and “spices” (masala) and this recipe is certainly filled with both. Potato curry recipes like this one are a fundamental part of cooking across the Indian subcontinent with a variety of dishes like Aloo Sabzi, Aloo Gosht, and Aloo Palak.
Aloo Masala is also often eaten as either a side dish or used as potato filling for crispy masala dosa, but there are endless ways to enjoy this simple recipe. Aloo Masala, the way it's made in this recipe, is best enjoyed as a breakfast or brunch food on weekends.
It is paired with authentic chana masala, a chickpea curry and sooji ka halwa, a delicious semolina pudding. A delicious, fried, unleavened wheat bread called poori and a hot cup of tea complete the delicious meal.
How to Serve Aloo Masala
Aloo Masala is such a versatile recipe that it can be served as either a side dish or main course, depending on how you use it. These are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy Aloo Masala.
- Side Dish - The traditional method for serving Aloo Masala is as a side dish, eaten with a warm Indian flatbread like naan, poori, or roti.
- Main Dish - You can turn Aloo Masala into a delicious lunch by eating it with some fragrant Basmati rice with a side of green coconut chutney.
- Dosa Aloo - Use your Aloo Masala as a spiced potato stuffing for dosa. Dosa is a type of pancake found in South India that’s made from a fermented dough of lentils or rice. You can also opt for a neer dosa, which is a rice crepe style mainly eaten in Karnataka.
The list of ingredients may seem daunting but each one plays a significant role in creating this delicious curry. The majority are fairly standard and easy to source and the rest all have easy to find substitutes that are provided below!
- Medium Red Potatoes
- Roma Tomatoes
- Neutral Cooking Oil
- Cumin Seeds
- Coriander Powder
- Carom Seeds (Ajwain)
- Whole Dried Red Chilies
- Amchur Powder
- Turmeric Powder
- Red Chili Powder
- Fresh Curry Leaves
See recipe card for quantities.
- Add hot water to a large pot or Dutch oven and bring it to a rolling boil. Boil the potatoes till they are cooked through (Knife slides in easily) and then cool them enough to peel easily.
- Take the cooled and peeled boiled potatoes and loosely break them into clumps with your hands.
- Quarter the tomatoes and cook them with a little water till they are soft, then mash the mixture to get a thick puree. Set it aside to use later.
- Heat the oil, add the ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds in a hot pan. Then saute the cumin and carom seeds for 30 seconds till you can smell a nutty aroma.
- Add the potatoes next and saute them for 1 minute on medium heat.
- Add the tomato puree, the salt, turmeric, red chili powder and coriander powder along with 1 cup of water and mix well together. Cover and cook on a medium flame for 15 minutes.
- Uncover, mash the potatoes a bit if necessary(you want some whole pieces of potato and some mashed).
- Add the fresh curry leaves, the whole dried red chilies and the amchur powder, cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your stove and how much water you have left).
- Uncover, garnish with cilantro and serve.
Hint: Don't mash the potatoes too much and make sure there is a little liquid in the curry. Due to the starch in the potatoes the more you mash them and release the starch, the more thick and clumpy the curry will become.
Some ingredient substitutions to the list above.
- Cumin Seeds (White Zeera) - The cumin seeds add a nice texture to the curry but if you can't source them just use cumin powder instead. Remember to use only half the amount of powder as it can be a lot more intense than the seeds.
- Carom (Ajwain) - Dried thyme leaves are very similar to the flavor of ajwain and are likely already in your pantry. Even though the tastes are close, dried thyme will lack just a bit of the bitterness found in earthy spices like ajwain. But in a pinch the thyme will work!
- Amchur Powder - Amchur or mango powder is used to add an acidic, citrus boost to Indian recipes. Amchur powder is hard to replicate, but you can use anardana powder (pomegranate powder), sumac (dried sumac berry powder) or loomi powder (dried persian limes) to get somewhat of a similar taste.
- Ginger - Fresh ginger always works best in Indian recipes. Ground ginger powder can be used, but be aware that it won’t add as much of a fresh gingery flavor to the dish.
- Curry Leaves - If you need to, you can swap fresh curry leaves for kaffir lime leaves or lemon balm leaves. Though not exactly the same nutty and citrusy scent as curry leaves, they are pretty similar.
- Chana - Chana, more commonly known as chickpeas, are a great way to add more protein, fiber, vitamins, and flavor to this dish. Boiled chickpeas can be simmered together with the potatoes and other add ins to bring more texture to the recipe.
- Sautéed onions - You can’t go wrong adding yellow onion into this recipe. Simply sauté sliced onions in a frying pan with cooking oil until they change color, becoming slightly translucent, and add a little bulk and texture to the Aloo Masala.
- Spinach- If you’d like to add more vegetables to this simple potato curry, then toss in some frozen spinach to the tomato puree right before cooking. Check out this Aloo Palak recipe if you'd like!
- Dutch oven - A large pot will also work just fine, but the sturdiness of a Dutch oven yields the best results.
- Strainer - You’ll need a large colander or strainer to drain the boiled potatoes.
Aloo Masala will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days, as long as it's stored in an airtight container. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend freezing this recipe, since defrosted potatoes tend to have a mushy, gritty texture.
Although it may be tempting to skip, remember to roast the whole spices (cumin and carom seeds) before adding in the potatoes to your cooking utensil. This process is known as tempering or blooming, which is a traditional method for extracting flavor in South Asian cuisine. To temper your spices, you sauté whole spices in a frying pan (with or without oil) until they sizzle, pop, and begin to release a vibrant smell. While it is an extra step, it adds so much depth and flavor to a dish.
The right spices really make or break the flavors of Indian cuisine. I always recommend stopping in at your local South Asian grocery store to stock up on the common ingredients used in Pakistani food.
I’m personally a fan of the stovetop method in general and for this recipe in particular. I feel that the potatoes would turn to mush in the Instant pot. That's just my personal opinion though and you're welcome to attempt cooking the potatoes in the Instant Pot.
When it comes to Pakistani cuisine, I tend to reach for Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes. Since these potatoes are less starchy than other varieties, they hold their shape a little and don't turn to complete mush when cooked.
Aloo masala (Potato Curry)
- 6 potatoes
- 4 tomatoes
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp carom seeds
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 2 whole red dried chilies
- 2 tsp amchur powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 10 curry leaves
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Boil the potatoes till they are cooked through (Knife slides in easily).
- Cool them enough to peel them and then loosely break them into clumps with your hands.
- Quarter the tomatoes and cook them with a little water till they are soft, then mash them to get a thick puree and set them aside for later.
- Heat the oil and add the ginger and garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
- Add the cumin and carom seeds and saute them for about 30 seconds.
- Add the potatoes and saute them for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato puree, the salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder along with 1 cup of water and mix well together. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes (SEE NOTES)
- Uncover, mash the potatoes a bit (you want some whole pieces of potato and some mashed)
- Add the curry leaves, the whole dried red chilies and the amchur powder, cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes (depending on your stove and how much water you have left.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.