Aloo matar with brown butter and garlic tadka

Aloo matar (potatoes and peas) is a classic Indian dish cooked with cumin and spices of which there are endless variations from soupy and rich to dry and oily. Tadka is the process of finishing a dish with flavoured oil and while it's a very important process in a lot of Indian cooking, it's often missed in Western recipes.

While tadka is an Indian process, there are many cuisines where hot oil is poured over a finished dish to increase its aroma. Think of ali nazik kebabs in Turkey, or Chinese steamed fish. I've been trying different styles of tadka, and even cross-cultural ones and they work extremely well.

I love the combination of brown butter and potatoes, and this dish is no exception.

  • Cooking time


  • Diet



  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup tomato passata
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp Korean or Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • Tadka
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ tsp Korean or Kashmiri chilli powder


  1. Heat a large, lidded frying pan or saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, butter and cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start to crackle add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry for about 3 minutes until softened. Add the passata and cook for a minute or two, then add the salt, stock powder (if using) and ground spices. Stir to combine, then add the potatoes and peas and about ½ a cup of water. You can add more water if it’s too dry, but you don’t want this to be too soupy (see photo). Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender, then stir through the fenugreek leaves. Transfer to a serving dish.
  2. For the tadka, heat the butter, cumin seeds and garlic in a small saucepan until the butter and garlic are browned. Remove from the heat, add the chilli powder and immediately pour over the vegetables, then serve.

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