Potato in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

There is an adage in Bengali – “Sarboghate kathali kala”. It applies to our beloved potato. If it comes to Bengali cuisines, potatoes definitely claim a ubiquitous presence.

It does not have any ego and so absorbs the subtle flavours of whatever ingredients are used in the cooking.

It is a versatile vegetable that lends itself to varied interpretations and presentations for every meal you can think about on any day.

Potatoes, which are so beloved for the Bongs and other Indians, are not a native to the country.

It was only cultivated in Peru and not known to the other countries in the world till 16th century. Potatoes were introduced to India by the Portuguese and Dutch in the morning period of their international trading.

However, the use of potatoes was restricted to only the Malabar region and not extended to the places and pockets across the subcontinent.

After the British Raj was established, potato became popular throughout the colonised India. Since then, it has almost become a staple food for the Indians.

Now you see the potato is a globetrotter. It has travelled almost throughout the globe and wherever it has gone, the experience is nothing sort of “Vini, Vidi and Vici”.

Potatoes are kind of ready-made snacks for your hunger. You can survive for days by eating boiled potatoes in extreme conditions.

Potatoes bring jaan (life) to any frugal meal. Potato is like water; it takes in the flavours of whatever is added to it.

What is more, it finds its royal presence on the rich’s platter and also pokes its nose in the poor’s plate. In other words, it cuts across the barrier of caste, class and country.


Uses of Potato in Bengali & Indian Cuisines

Potatoes are the loveliest addition to almost any Bong meal that can be imagined. Bongs’ love for this universal vegetable is the worst-kept secret.

There are similarities between the Bongs and potatoes. The Bongs can easily assimilate new cultures just like potatoes can adapt themselves to any added flavour.

The Bengalis add potatoes to almost everything. Now the habit may look disgusting to other Indians but for the Bongs, it’s pretty de-stressing.

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Let me know, start with aloo seddho makha (smashed potatoes). I can bet it is the simplest of simple recipes in the world. Boiled potatoes are smashed and mixed with mustard oil, chopped onions and green chillies.

Sometimes, smashed potatoes are added to the fried onions in the pan and mixed well with green chillies.

Whatever way you prepare the dish, it tastes awesome. Aloo seddho (boiled potatoes) is mostly served with boiled rice and dal.

On any day, if you feel crazy for curb intake, dive into the quicksand texture of aloo seddho makha (smashed potatoes). It also goes well as a stand-alone snack.

Aloo bhaja completes a Bengali meal the way no dish can do. Potatoes are cut into thin strips, mixed with spices and deep-fried in mustard oil.

These appetizing fritters are usually served with boiled rice, dal and other vegetables.

Sometimes nuts are added to the fried potatoes for crunchy bites. It is served at dinner or lunch on any Bengali occasion from wedding to annaprashan (rice ceremony).

Bong meals remain incomplete without the help of sukto. It is prepared with different vegetables including baby potatoes.

Many Bongs can eat a plateful of rice with a bowl of sukto. It is a very comforting dish in the summer time though served as a starter in lunch on any occasion.

Bhapa aloo is another Bong signature preparation. Baby potatoes are chosen for the recipe. Mixed with paanch phoorn, the baby potatoes are steamed with yogurt and mustard paste.

The creamy and comfy dish satiates your hunger for days when you want to feel light.

Aloor dum is a dish prepared in different regions across India and each comes with its own regional culinary style and flavour.

Bong style aloor dum is a curried preparation that uses half-cut potatoes languidly floating in tomato gravy.

The rich and robust curry, enriched by the eclectic mix of the commonly used Indian spices, offers an awesome mouth-watering fare.

With every bite of potatoes, you will feel the burst of flavours in your mouth. The bongs usually pair it with hot rice for the best experience.

In winter, the bongs prepare a special kind of aloor dum with natun aloo (potatoes freshly collected from the field and sold in the market) and coriander leaves.

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Peas are sometimes added. The dried gravy is usually served with karaishutir kachuri (another winter sensation and obsession for the Bongs) or steamed rice and dal.

The Bengalis have a habit of using potatoes in almost any dish from plain cauliflower curry, paneer kasha to curried chicken and mutton magic cooked the very Bong way.

The sublime swap of flavours between the potatoes and other ingredients gives a teasing twist to the taste and triggers the craving of the food connoisseurs.

The Bong connection to aloo posto is just phenomenal. The goodness of potato cubes exchanged with poppy paste cooked in mustard oil and flavoured by slit green chillies makes the dish an all-time favourite for the millions.

Sometimes, a few dried chillies are added for enhanced spiciness and flavours. It is best paired with piping hot rice.

Let me now talk about phuchka and ghugni. It is a favourite of yours, mine and who not? They are among the most popular street foods in Kolkata.

Smashed potatoes mixed with spices, green chillies and kabli cholas are used as stuffing through the small opening of the round-shaped phuhkas which are dipped into spicy tamarind water before being served.

Potato is so engulfing a vegetable that even Wajid Shah, the Nawab of Oudh, fell in love with it.

When the Nawab’s khansamas (cooks) introduced Audh Biryani to Kolkata during his exile in Metiaburz, the City of Joy lovingly added the chunk of potatoes.

Thus was born Kolkata Biryani with the rare and royal share of spaces by meat, eggs and potatoes.

Hara-bhara kebab…You have certainly heard the name. The mention is enough to tease the foodies. Potato is one of the major ingredients in the dish.

Potatoes are a great binder and so used in making hariali kebabs (green kebabs) or the likes. How can we forget the famous aloo ka paratha?

The dish originated in the Punjab region but later, many regions across the subcontinent have endeared it and now cook it their own way. Sometimes, presentation and side dishes also make a big difference.

Kashmiri dum aloo is one of the most favourite dishes from the Paradise on the Earth. It is different from

Bengali style aloor dum as the Kashmiris – both the Pundits and the Muslims – use dried ginger powder and fennel powder to the gravy.

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The richness of taste comes from the dry spices and the potatoes are slow cooked in the curd instead of tomato gravy.

Do you know that potatoes are used to prepare a lip-smacking sweet dish? It is called aloo ka halwa.

The delicious dessert is widely popular in Uttar Pradesh and a must-cook speciality during Navaratri.

Once you embrace the taste of potatoes, there is no escape from the love for this vegetable.

Is Potato Tasty?

Whatever way the potato is prepared, it tastes truly awesome. It can be fried, turned into curry, used as an item the entire dish.

Potatoes taste very well and even make the food tastier along with it. There are different types of potatoes which are available in different seasons.

The basic kinds are available all round the year which are very tasty.

Even the new potatoes known as Notun Aloo do have a different taste of their own which is really wonderful and you can make so many types of curries with it.

What Can be Made from Potatoes?

A wider variety of dishes can be made from potatoes. You can make Aloor Dum, Aloo Palak, Aloo Fry, Aloo Gobi, Aloo Methi, Jeera Aloo, Aloo Mix Veg, Dum Aloo, Matar Aloo, Aloo Gobi, Puri Aloo, Potato Sandwich, Potato Wedges, Aloo Bonda, Kosha Aloor Dum, Etc.

What are the Best Recipes for Potatoes?

It is up to you to choose what tastes BEST on your palate. Aloor Dum, Aloo Palak, Aloo Fry, Aloo Gobi, Aloo Methi, Jeera Aloo, Aloo Mix Veg, Dum Aloo, Matar Aloo, Aloo Gobi, Puri Aloo and Aloo Chokha.

How Do You Know When Potatoes are Cooked?

Potatoes look mushy when they are properly cooked.

Precisely when you see that the skin is slightly torn and it’s coming out from the body and Potatoes can be pressed with your hands.

You can certainly say that it is boiled.

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