Jeera Aloo, a simple Indian dish of stir-fried potatoes with cumin, needs just seven ingredients and comes together in 20 minutes. It's so yummy, however, that you will fall in love. This makes a great vegetable side dish for dinner served with roti or puri or with dal and rice. In addition to being vegan, this dish is also gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free. It's also very kid-friendly.
The Indian festival season, which runs between the months of August and November, is a time for both feasting and fasting. Sure, there's a ton of great food to be eaten during some of the biggest Hindu festivals that occur during this time, like Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Dusshera, and Diwali. But there's also time built in to cleanse your body through an upvaas or vrat, when people either fast entirely, or eat tasty, mostly gluten-free foods.
Both the eating of the rich food and the abstinence from it occur for religious reasons, but even if one doesn't buy into that sentiment, it doesn't seem such a bad idea to break a period of heavy eating with the occasional fast to get things back into balance, does it?
One of the delicious foods served and devoured during the period of fasting is this scrumptious Jeera Aloo, a very simple but incredibly delicious side of potatoes flavored with cumin seeds.
There are many, many Indian style potato sides, including some like Bombay Potatoes that include tomato sauce and spices. But a jeera aloo doesn't need those trimmings--it is meant to be a simple, homely dish, one you throw together when you don't have time to make anything else but want something very, very tasty anyway.
Why you'll love this Jeera Aloo recipe
- It's yummy. If there ever was a flavor match made in food heaven, it has got to be cumin and potatoes. The smoky, earthy flavor of cumin is the perfect complement to the creamy, bland but delicious spud. I also like to add some curry leaves into this dish because they add yet another delicious flavor dimension.
- It's healthy. Potatoes are a supremely healthy food, packed as they are with antioxidants and vitamins and other good-for-you nutrients. Cooked right, as they are in this recipe with little oil and good-for-you herbs and spices like turmeric, cumin and curry leaves, they are a health star. When you serve jeera aloo to your family you can rest assured you are serving them a food they will not only love but one that will help keep them healthy. (A tip I have for you here is to try and use organic potatoes so you don't have to peel them. A good deal of the nutrients in potatoes lie in and under the skin and you don't want to lose them.)
- It's everyone friendly. Jeera aloo is gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free and this dish is vegan, of course. This is also one of the most kid-friendly vegetable sides I know of. Kids love potatoes and will almost always scarf these down. It's my son Jay's favorite vegetable side dish, no contest. You can dial down the chili peppers if you are serving this to a child.
- 4 large potatoes A potato that will hold its shape is better, like a yellow or red, but russet potatoes will work here too.
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 20 curry leaves. You can sub this with 2 tablespoons of cilantro or coriander leaves.
- 1-inch knob of ginger
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 green chili peppers. Use a pepper like jalapeno or serrano and deseed if sensitive to heat.
- Salt to taste
What to serve with Jeera Aloo
- Jeera aloo is wonderful with Indian breads like roti or puri. It would likely be a bit dry to eat with a naan, which is thicker and puffier, so if I were serving it with a naan I'd also have a saucy sabzi on the side, like a vegan Palak Paneer or a vegan Paneer Butter Masala.
- You can also serve jeera aloo with rice and dal.
- 4 large potatoes (boiled and cubed. Use any kind. A potato that will hold its shape is better, like a yellow or red, but russet potatoes will work here too).
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 20 curry leaves (can sub with 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves)
- 1-inch knob ginger (julienned)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 green chili peppers (like jalapeno or serrano, finely minced. Deseed if sensitive to heat.)
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a wok or large fry pan. Add the cumin seeds and as they start to darken slightly, add the curry leaves, ginger, green chili peppers, and turmeric.
- Stir quickly to mix and add the potato cubes.
- Stir-fry the potatoes for a couple of minutes to warm them through. Add salt and turn off heat. You can squeeze some lemon juice into this sabzi, but I prefer it without any.
- Serve the jeera aloo with dal and rice or with an Indian flatbread like puri or roti. Try it with my Garlicky Spinach Dal.
- If you don't have curry leaves use cilantro or coriander leaves.
- You can sub the green chilli peppers with dry red chillies, broken into pieces. Or use red pepper flakes, or, if you want less heat, use a pinch or two of red chilli powder.
- You can boil the potatoes whole on a stovetop for this dish or pressure cook them. I sometimes use my microwave but keep in mind that large potatoes, like russets, can remain raw in the middle when using a microwave. If using a stovetop pressure cooker place the potatoes in a couple of inches of water and cook for two whistles for small or medium potatoes or three whistles for large. You can also use your Instant Pot to boil the potatoes. Pour a cup of water in the IP liner, then place a trivet in the liner and place the potatoes on it. Pressure cook for 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. For larger potatoes, like russets, you might need up to 10 minutes.
- Some cooks add other ingredients to jeera aloo, including coriander powder, amchur or mango powder and tomatoes for a spicier version. I prefer not to because that just overwhelms the flavor of the cumin and makes it disappear, instead of shine in this dish.