Aloo ke gutke is a spiced potato preparation best enjoyed with chai. Photo: Hina Gujral
Aloo ke gutke is the pahadi name for potatoes stir fried in spices. The word gutke in the local Kumaoni dialect means pieces. If you have ever travelled to the hills of Uttaranchal, you will find this to be the most common snack served by the local tea vendors. There is a reason why this particular dish is so popular in Kumaon. Potatoes are grown abundantly in the region, and also due to a not-so developed network of markets, very basic ingredients are easily available here. Aloo ke gutke is therefore the best dish that can be prepared with minimum available resources.
The potatoes of Kumaon have a peculiar sweet taste to it, which gives this humble dish a unique flavour. This variety is sometimes sold as pahadi aloo. Over the years, Aloo ke gutke has become quite a popular dish among the tourists and food lovers, who visit the hills to spend quiet summer holidays.
But Aloo ke gutke is not served on its own; pahadiKheere ka raita and a hot cup of tea are the typical accompaniments. The combination may sound odd, but that is the usual menu of a typical Kumaoni tea-time affair. The yoghurt and tea together are not an inviting combination, but in this part of the region we relish these spiced potatoes dipped in bold cucumber raita followed by a cup of chai. And trust me when I say that no one has ever had an upset stomach!
Summer vacations at my ancestral home were never complete without a bowl full of Aloo ke gutke and Sooji halwa lovingly served by the ladies of the family. While growing up, the festive menu at home always had the former along with pooris and Kheere ka raita. The dish has a kind of comfort note to it that instantly connects a Kumaoni with the hills. Be it memories of a school lunchbox, grandma’s tea-time affair or long travels, Aloo ke gutke is omnipresent.
Recipe for Aloo ke gutke
4 large sized potato
2 – 3 dried red chiles
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp mango powder
1 tsp coriander powder
3 tbsp mustard oil
Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
Salt as per taste
1. Wash potatoes, peel and cut them into big chunks.
2. Heat oil in an iron skillet until fuming hot, lower the heat and fry the red chilies until brown. Remove from the oil and keep aside.
3. In the same oil add mustard seeds. Once seeds start popping add red chili powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder stir for 1 – 2 seconds.
4. Immediately add potatoes and mix well to coat the potato with spices.
5. Add salt, mango powder and mix well.
6. Sauté the potatoes for about 5 -7 minutes on the med-low flame until potatoes are evenly roasted.
7. Cover the skillet with a lid and let potato cook over low heat until fully cooked and brown charred marks appear on potato.
8. Turn of the heat, transfer to a serving dish and garnish the potatoes with red chilies and lots of coriander leaves.
Hina Gujral is a banker by education, food blogger by passion, and food stylist by profession. Living and working in and around food fuelled her desire to travel, explore and put it all together in Fun, FOOD and Frolic. Find easy-to-cook recipes from her mother's kitchen, everyday kitchen stories and accounts of food from her childhood.