Masala Aloo literally means spiced potato. Imagine comforting cubes of potatoes sautéed in turmeric and chili powder, with plenty of salt and a bit of crunch. In a word: scrumptious.
These potatoes are lovely as a dinner side dish, or for breakfast with eggs, or as a snack mashed on toast with mango chutney. I know the toast idea may sound surprising to some of you. It was to me when I first heard it, but vegetarians in India eat potato with bread in number of ways, and it is really good!
When fully cooked the Masala Aloo is a feast for the eyes with it’s golden color from the turmeric and perfect caramelization.
The spice mix, or masala, for this recipe is classic South Indian: black mustard seeds, urad dal, turmeric, and red chili. This combination is wonderfully balanced, and super healthy. It is also good on almost any vegetable. See my post, How to Cook Any Vegetable, South Indian Style.
To get the crunch for this dish, you temper the black mustard seeds and a tiny white lentil called urad dal, in a small amount of oil.
Both of these items will likely have to be purchased at an Indian grocery store or online, but it is super worth it!
See the notes section below the recipe for details on this, as well as suggestions for what to do if you are unable to source the spices.
Next, you add some crushed red chili, turmeric powder, and salt into the oil. Let it sizzle, and a few seconds later you are ready to add your potato cubes. The potatoes used in this dish are parboiled so that they do not take long to cook at this stage.
The potatoes are roasted on low heat and develop a beautiful golden spice crust. When fully cooked the Masala Aloo is a feast for the eyes with its golden color from the turmeric and perfect caramelization.
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South Indian Roasted Potato (Masala Aloo)
- 3 medium potatoes, parboiled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon split urad dal
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
- This recipe requires a medium (10-inch) skillet with lid, or a 4 quart sauté pan with a lid.
Method for making Masala Aloo
- Parboil the potatoes in boiling water. A knife inserted into the potato should pull out smoothly when you try to lift the potato with it.
- Drain and cool the potatoes until you can handle them with your hands. Peel the skins from the potatoes and chop them into half-inch cubes. Set aside until needed.
- Heat the oil in your skillet or sauté pan and add the mustard seeds and urad dal. Watch carefully. When over half the mustard seeds pop, and the urad dal turns golden brown, add the turmeric, red chile, and salt, and sauté about 30 seconds to release the aroma. Quickly add the potatoes and mix well using two spoons or a big spatula.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Roast on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes get brown and crispy.
- Taste the potatoes and adjust for salt. Add chopped fresh cilantro leaves for extra flavor and color as an optional garnish.
- The potatoes can also be used as a filling rolled inside a flatbread or tortilla, or as a tasty toast topping.