Zeera aloo

by Asma Khan

A quick and simple cumin-spiced potato dish

This dish goes well with bread or rice. The quantities given here make generous helpings for two. If you are serving a lot of other dishes, you may want to halve the amounts. Alternatively, if you decide to make this for more than two people, simply double, treble or quadruple the quantities of each ingredient. Personally, I think you can never make too many potatoes.

Standard white potatoes work best for this dish, rather than floury potatoes that will fall apart while cooking. Use the widest pan that you have—ideally one in which the potato slices do not overlap.


2 large potatoes (standard white potatoes, such as maris piper, approx 500g), thinly sliced
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 dried red chillies


In a bowl, soak the potato slices in cold water for 10 mins, then rinse under cold running water to remove any excess starch. Dry the potatoes on paper towels.

In a wide saucepan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds to the pan, followed by the dried red chillies, then cook, stirring, for a few secs until the cumin seeds and chillies darken and release their aromas. If you enjoy the flavour of chilli but not the heat, use the dried red chillies whole. However, if you like the heat, break the chillies in half before adding to the pan so they release more of their fiery heat into the dish.

Add the potato slices to the pan in a single layer, trying not to overlap them, then add ¾ tsp salt. Allow the oil to return to a medium heat before lowering.

Gently cook over a low heat until the potatoes take on a translucent glaze and break easily. To prevent the potatoes from breaking up during cooking, do not stir too often—the best way to ensure even cooking is to shake the pan and then carefully turn the potatoes.

Recipe: Asma Khan