Ala thel dala

Fried potato curry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

In Sri Lanka, this was one of my favourite dry curries. You can add it to a dosai to make masala dosai, serve it with Puri, or just roll it up in a roti and enjoy it as a snack with tamarind chutney.

Preparation 25 minutes
Cooking 40 minutes


  • 4 large russet or other boiling potatoes, washed well, skin on
  • 4–5 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes


Boil the whole potatoes in their skins in a large saucepan of water over high heat for about 20 minutes. Make sure the potatoes aren’t too soft — they need to have some remaining bite to them.

Drain the potatoes and leave to cool slightly, then peel them and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes. Set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the onion, cumin seeds and sesame seeds. Let them fry for a minute, or until they turn golden brown.

Add the diced potatoes, turmeric and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.

Reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 3 minutes, stirring regularly so the spices don’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and well coated in all the spices.

Stir in 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water, mixing well to give the curry a sticky feel.

Stir the chilli flakes through, then cook for a final 2 minutes.

Your potato curry is now ready to serve.