Dahi Bara Aloo Dum: A Love Letter To Odisha

Dahi Bara Aloo Dum: A Love Letter To Odisha

dahi-bara-aloo-dum Dahi bara aloo dum is a breakfast speciality in Odisha. Photo: Pallavi Roy

It's 4:00 AM and time to gather the paraphernalia for the day ahead. Potatoes are boiled, soaked yellow peas are steamed and the batter is ready to be deep fried. There is a grave silence in the neighbourhood. The clatter of pans, sizzling baras and simmering curry take over at many a bhaina's (term of brotherly endearment) household. This was the semi-nocturnal ritual of the numerous bhainas selling dahi bara aloo dum across Odisha.

Dahi bara aloo dum (DBAD) is a sumptuous and grand breakfast dish in every Odia household. I would say it is the vada pav of Odisha. If you scan the lanes and bylanes of Odisha's towns and villages, you will find the locality's favourite DBAD wala stationed under a tree or street lamp or at the crossroads. He would be flocked by office-goers, school children, college students, and of course housewives. This can also be a glamorous evening snack enjoyed by the riverside. The bhainas embark their journey on a humble cycle flanked by pots and pans moving from one street to the other, often hooting at the gate of their favourite customers.

This is indeed the most delicious breakfast of India, however unfortunately like many things of Odisha, has not got its due. You have to visit the state to experience some of the most untapped recipes. DBAD as a dish comprises several ingredients and its melange is similar to the Indian chaat.

dahi-bara-aloo-dum-1 An assortment of several elements completes the dish. Photo: Pallavi Roy

Recipe for Dahi Bara Aloo Dum

Ingredients for the Aloo Dum

2 potatoes, boiled and peeled

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 onion, paste

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp curry powder or garam masala

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

1 tbsp oil


1. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.

2. Add the onion and ginger garlic paste. Fry the mixture until the oil separates.

3. Add chopped tomatoes and the spices. Fry until the tomatoes are cooked. Adding salt at this stage will soften the tomatoes quicker.

4. Add the potatoes cut into cubes. Let it be coated with the spices.

5. Finally add a cup of water and cook covered until the gravy thickens.

6. Remove it from the stove and set aside.

Ingredients for the ghugni

200 gms, yellow peas soaked overnight

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp curry powder

Ssalt to taste

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds for tempering


1. In a pressure cooker, add all the above ingredients with water (except oil, curry powder, mustard seeds). Give it 5 whistles.

2. In a pan, add oil and the mustard seeds. Let them splutter.

3. To the oil, add the curry powder. Then add your boiled peas.

4. Let it simmer on medium heat until the gravy thickens.

Ingredients for the dahi

2 cups of sour dahi or yoghurt

2 cups of water

1 tbsp black salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

Few sprigs of curry leaves

2-3 dried red chillies


1. In a steel or aluminum flat container, mix the dahi with water and prepare a thin consistency of butter milk. Mix the black salt.

2. For the tempering, heat oil in a round iron spatula and splutter the cumin seeds, curry leaves and red chilles. Pour it over the dahi and let it sizzle.

Ingredients for the bara

1 cup urad dal, soaked overnight

1 ginger, finely minced

2 tbsp semolina

1 tsp cumin seeds

Oil for frying

Salt to taste


1. Grind the urad dal into a thick paste. Mix it with ginger, salt, semolina and cumin seeds into the batter.

2. In a wok, heat the oil. On a banana leaf or your palm, shape them into traditional circle with a hole with the help of wet hands.

3. Gently leave the prepared bara into the hot oil and fry until slightly brown on both sides.

4. Put the baras into a bowl of water to cool down and then transfer them to the prepared dahi. Allow it to soak the dahi and become moist and spongy.

Sprinkling on top

1 onion finely chopped

1 green chilli finely chopped

Black salt to taste

Dry roasted cumin and red chillies powder

Thin sev for the topping

Few sprigs of coriander leaves, finely chopped

To serve

Traditionally, it is served in pattals shaped into handheld cones. Spread four soaked baras, a spoon of ghugni, and a spoon of aloo dum on a plate or bowl. Top it with onions, green chillies, sev, coriander leaves, and finally a dash of residual dahi. For extra seasoning, people prefer black salt and dry roasted cumin and red chilli powder. It is customary for people to have a sip of the residual dahi post its completion just like the pani after the pani puri. It is quite refreshing in the hot summer days.

Born and brought up in India, Roy currently resides in London. She works as a part-time software professional, writer, heuristic recipe developer, stylist apart from blogging, photographing and travelling. She chronicles them on her website, Heuristic Kitchens. She is currently smitten by the rare art of slow living. When not juggling pots, camera or computer, she is making memories with her family.

Follow Roy on Twitter @HeuristicK

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