Dhaba style Aloo Matar

If you have ever travelled in the Northern or North Western states of India and eaten at road side restaurants, you will know that that food tastes different. Is it because of the loads of butter or desi ghee that they use or is it on account of the fresh produce?

Hmm….what could be the reason?

Well, I believe it is both of the above but more than that it is because of the masala which is slow cooked for hours to get the distinctive flavour.

I follow the same slow cooked masala recipe in my curries. The result is delectable every single time. After all, a dish is only as good as the masala that it is cooked in, right?

This is my…

DHABA STYLE ALOO MATAR (potato and peas curry)


2 large potatoes (cubed into 1 inch pieces)

1 cup peas (shelled. You can use frozen or fresh)

2 large onions, chopped fine

2 large tomatoes, pureed *

2 tbsp oil for cooking. You can use ghee or butter also

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

2 green chillies

1 dried red chilli

1-2 bay leaves

4-5 cloves

2 black cardamoms (pods opened)

2-3 star anise

1 stick of cinnamon

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp kasoori methi

Salt to taste

3/4 tsp garam masala

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp turmeric powder.

1 tsp curd.

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

*Note – To make the puree – Make an ‘X’ incision at the bottom of the tomatoes and dunk them in a pot of boiling hot water for 1-2 minutes. Then fish them out and run them under cold water. The skin will peel off. Cool and puree


  1. In the pressure cooker heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and the dry masala – bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, dried red chilli, green chilli and the black cardamoms. Mix well so that the flavour infuses into the oil.
  2. Add the chopped onions. Sauté till the onions soften and turn golden (approx 5-7 minutes)
  3. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for another minute.
  4. Tip in the tomato puree and half of the chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.
  5. Add the curd and the dry powdered masalas – turmeric, cumin, coriander, red chilli, salt and kasoori methi. Mix well and add ¼ th cup water. Sauté this masala till the oil separates. The more you sauté this masala, the better will be the taste of the gravy. It takes about 15-20 minutes on a medium heat for the oil to separate. However, at this stage I prefer to add more water and sauté for a further round. You may or may not choose to follow this step.
  6. Once the masala is done, add the potatoes and peas. Saute again for about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle over some garam masala and add 1 cup water to the mixture (the water should be enough to completely cover the ingredients in the cooker). You can add more water also if you want thinner gravy.
  7. Put the lid of the pressure cooker with the whistle and pressure cook on a high flame for one whistle. After than lower the heat to medium and pressure cook for two more whistles.
  8. Note – if you do not wish to pressure cook then you can make it in a wok as well. It just takes slightly longer for the potatoes to cook.
  9. Once done, remove from cooker, garnish with the remaining coriander leaves and serve hot.

About Sonal Singh

I believe that life is a repertoire of anecdotes. The various situations that we encounter, the many incidents of every day, the people we meet, our conversations with them; all make life a melange of tales. And, that is what I attempt to capture through my writing. My cooking is no different! It reflects my love for travel and my love for innovation. The kitchen is my happy place. So, even though by vocation I am a recruiter (www.rianplacements.com), by passion I am a writer, home chef and a hodophile.

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