Dum Aloo & North Indian Gravy variants for Dummies

Anyone for some potatoes, raise your hand. Yeah, that’s what I thought! 😀

I finally made this to satiate a fan’s recipe request for Aloo sabzi in gravy. She says her husband loves taters beyond all other food. Jayashree, this one is specially for you and your family. I know I’d promised to make it with the baby potatoes for you, however, though I have been hunting for them for quite sometime now, I haven’t spotted them anywhere in the 2-3 markets I frequent. I didn’t want to keep you waiting anymore and finally made it today with the regular taters, to go with our Jeera Rice. Hope you all will like it.

This sabzi has the basic North Indian gravy that you can find in most Punjabi dishes, and variations can be made to suit your palate/need once you have this mastered. Believe me, it is no rocket science. Try one or two dishes with this gravy and then move onto experimenting with the variations, and you wont be wowing the ones at the Indian restaurants anymore, b’cos you can very well make them yourself at home, sans the copious amounts of oil (or what they call as oil, which could very well be trans fats…ughh), and god knows what all else they throw in, in restaurants!


Basic North Indian (Orange) Gravy:

  • Onions – 4 nos (medium-sized; cubed into bite-sized pieces)
  • Tomatoes – 4-5 nos (medium-sized; cubed into bite-sized pieces)
  • Ginger – 1″ long piece, finely chopped
  • Garlic – 5-6 pods, finely chopped
  • Jeera/Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Dhaniya powder, Methi powder(optional), Amchur powder (optional) – 1/4 tsp each
  • Salt – to taste
  • Curd (optional) – 3 tbsps (to lend a tangy twist to your gravy)
  • Thick Fresh cream/Malai (optional) – 4 tbsps (to lend a creamy texture to your gravy, and also if you are feeling indulgent)
  • Milk (optional) – 4 tbsps (to lend a creamy texture to your gravy)
  • Kasuri Methi (optional) – 2 tbsps, crushed between your palms (instant taste-enhancer than lends a lovely fragrance to your gravy)
  • Oil – 2 + 1 tbsps (+2 tbsps, if frying veggies like potato to add to the gravy)

(Note: If you like your gravy slightly tangier, use more tomatoes. If you like it slightly sweet, use more onions…that’s the trick yeah, and not adding sugar, to make the gravy sweeter)

Optional Enhancement variants (use any 1 at a time only):

  • Poppy seeds + cashew paste – 4 tbsps (for that rich, creamy taste)
  • Poppy seeds paste – 2 tbsps (for a slightly different nutty flavour; don’t add too much or the poppy seeds will dominate the gravy with their flavour)
  • Cashew paste – 4 tbsps (for that rich taste and creamy texture)
  • Badam/Almond paste – 4 tbsps (for that rich taste and creamy texture)
  • Cashew + Badam paste – 4 tbsps (for that rich taste and creamy texture)
  • Cashew + Freshly grated coconut paste – 4 tbsps (for that rich taste and creamy texture)
  • Poppy seeds + cashew + freshly grated coconut paste – 4 tbsps (for that rich taste and creamy texture)

(Note: All the above enhancement variants are to be used in addition to the basic gravy. They not only thicken the consistency of your gravy, but also enhance the taste and texture)

Other Ingredients (make suitable combos):

  • Vegetable of choice: potatoes/cauliflower/french beans/carrots/green peas/capsicum, or different combos with the veggies, to suit your taste – 3 cups (ensure you always cook the veggies with a little salt)
  • OR, Beans/Legumes: Rajma/Kabuli Channa/Black Channa etc – 3 cups
  • OR, Paneer/Tofu – 3 cups


  • Cook the required veggie/s, beans. Since I used potatoes today, let me elaborate on that in the recipe.
  • Pressure cook the potatoes (whole-ly) and set aside.
  • In a wok, heat 2 tbsps of oil. Add the onions and turmeric powder (skip the turmeric powder if making palak paneer). Sauté the cubed onions on a low medium flame, till they are cooked tender (take care not to burn them on the edges). Allow the sautéed onions to cool.
  • Grind the cooled sautéed onions, cubed tomatoes, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste.
  • In the same wok you used earlier, heat 1 tbsp oil, add jeera seeds and allow to splutter.
  • Add the tomato-onion-ginger-garlic paste. Cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes till the raw aroma reduces a little. Add some warm water if required, to adjust consistency of gravy.
  • Add the red chilli powder, garam masala powder, jeera powder, dhaniya powder, methi powder(if using), amchur powder (if using) and salt. Stir well and allow to cook on a low-medium flame for atleast 15 minutes, or till the raw aroma is fully gone, and the spices have been soaked up by the gravy.
  • As the gravy is cooking, de-skin the potatoes, and cut into chunks of about 2″ wide each.
  • In another wok (preferably non-stick), heat 2 tbsps oil and fry the potato pieces with little salt, till lightly browned. The reason why this is done is to prevent the potatoes from crumbling in the gravy. Also, it enhances the taste.
  • Add curd, thick fresh cream, crushed kasuri methi, and also any optional enhancement variant (if using) at this stage, and allow the gravy to season and thicken. Adjust salt if required.
  • Add the roasted potato pieces to the gravy.
  • Stir gently, taking care not to crush the veggies (in this case, potatoes) and allow to cook on a low flame for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once done, remove from flame and garnish with coriander/cilantro (and more fresh cream if you aren’t particularly worried about adding on those calories).
  • Serve hot with rotis/rice specialties like Pulao, Jeera Rice, Ghee rice etc.

Phew! That was one long post. Though I’ve said quite a lot, don’t let that scare you; it isn’t much once you make it. Hope this post helps you all with mastering Punjabi gravy dishes. You can also find the recipe to the North Indian White gravy here. Feel free to drop me a line in case of any queries.


16 responses to “Dum Aloo & North Indian Gravy variants for Dummies

  1. Jayashree Rajan

    Wow Madhuri!just saw this post! I’d requested for a simple aloo sabzi and look at what i got!!!!! Thank you so very much, I can see how much trouble you’ve taken and i want you to know its so much appreciated! You’ve added so many variants of the gravy from plain to kurma to rich n creamy,i don’t think i’ll have to look at another north indian cook book ever again! Looks great and i’m sure will taste even better!:)Once again,thanks a ton! Shall try it and get back to you soon.:)

    • You’re most welcome Jayashree! I figured that since I was doing the basic gravy, I might as well talk about the variants. That way, it would be really useful for the novices out there.
      Im so sorry for not having replied earlier, I’ve been really busy with work in the last one week and have not been giving enough attention as I normally would to the blog. Though my posts are being published as usual, I haven’t spent time checking on all the comments and replying to them.
      Will await your feedback. More than anything else, I’m hoping your better half loves it! Isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day? 😉
      Bon Appetit!

  2. I love the variant options – its always good to see a lot of options for one simple aloo..!!

    The Aloo curry looks delicious!

  3. Am inviting myself to ur place to enjoy this fantastic dish..am a great fan of aloos..anything with potatoes goes directly to my favourite…

  4. Very nice Madhuri! It looks yummy! Yeah roasting the boiled potatoes gives that “Dum” taste or smoky flavor and I agree with the variants…I too make different paste depending on the mood and situation and ofcurse what I have in hand, poppy seeds paste – for everyday gravy, cashew paste+cream – when there are guests/special occassion, cashew + cocunut – kurma which I make very rarely.

  5. I also make my northindian dishes in a similar kind of gravy and use one of the few variations you have mentioned here .. this is sure a good post for starters…

  6. Great work on the exhaustive list of gravy variations! I use these options too. When I am too lazy, I just add cream or skim milk to give a smooth texture for my gravies. Only, you have to make certain that you finish it quickly due to the milk content. Cashews are a great thickness/taste enhancer. Most restaurants use it I think.

    Again, great post!

  7. wow.. that is my favorite curry 🙂 Thanks for sharing this detailed recipe. It looks perfect.

  8. Fantastic post Madhuri! So many variations of the humble aloo. U are tempting me to try one of these now!

  9. hey this looks delectable…yummy..I too have posted dum aloo recipe some days back..same pinch ..LOL

  10. The aloo curry is most loved by anyone. And if it’s Dum Aloo, who will not? Very inviting!

  11. this looks real yummy man!.. m feeling like having this rite now.. though i just had dinner! 😀 hehehe!

  12. Thanks everyone! Its interesting to note how each one of us has a signature style, right? 🙂
    @Priya: Please do come, I’ll make you as much as you want 🙂

  13. I had missed this post totally..its such a treasure..Thanks !

  14. Hi madhuri…tried this with mixed veggies…came out really well.thanks a lot.one question though…should we soak cashew and badam( I used these as enhancement variants)to get a smooth paste?

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