Aloo choka is a classic potato side dish in Trinidad and Tobago. It’s great for breakfast alongside sada roti and other chokas. You can also have it as a side with dhal, rice, and a salad.
It’ll star in any vegan meal with its sharp onion and garlic flavors, not to mention its spiciness.
What is Aloo Choka?
Aloo is Hindi for potato, so aloo choka is essentially potato choka. But choka – if I’m not mistaken – is the Hindi term used to describe roasting vegetables. Case in point, tomato choka is made by roasting tomatoes.
But, in this recipe, the potatoes are not roasted. Instead, they are chunkayed with hot oil and sometimes roasted garlic.
As you can tell, this recipe has East Indian roots. In India, it’s called aloo chokha (with an ‘h’) and aloo ka bharta. In these versions, they add in dhania leaves (cilantro or what we call celery here in T&T), cumin (geera) powder, and even lemon juice.
Check out this recipe from Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi. It’s in Hindi, but there are translations below.
In his recipe, he adds in hing and mustard oil. These aren’t common ingredients used in the Caribbean. But how he makes the dish is very much the same as what we do.
What is in Aloo Choka?
All you need for this recipe include:
The seasonings you can use here can be:
- cumin (geera) powder
- fresh culantro (chadon beni) leaves
- cilantro leaves
- Caribbean green seasoning
My mom loves using cumin powder in her recipe – the spice gives the dish a strong, smokey flavor that’ll remind you of Indian cuisine and its flavors. But, using too much will overpower the choka so add a little at a time until it’s perfect for your taste. Or leave it out.
How to Make Aloo Choka
Here’s how to make this delicious side dish.
Wash the potatoes and cut them in half. Add them to a pot of boiling water and leave to cook until soft.
Drain the water and allow the potatoes to cool enough to handle them.
Peel the skin and mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork – whichever works for you. Add salt and pepper to taste.
At this point, you can customize the recipe based on your preferences.
Personally, I don’t enjoy the sharp taste of raw onions. So, I sauté them in coconut oil before adding in garlic and pepper.
When they are all cooked, I mix them into the mashed potatoes and add a little cumin powder and fresh chives, cilantro and culantro.
That’s it for my aloo choka.
You don’t have to sauté your onions or garlic or pepper. You can add them raw into the warm mashed potatoes. Mix in some warm oil to make the choka smoother and creamier.
You can also leave the cumin powder out if the flavor doesn’t suit you.
Important tips for making this recipe
My mom insists on adding in this tip:
To save time, don’t boil the potatoes – microwave them instead.
To do this, wash the potatoes and make large slits in them (the larger the slits, the better). Place them in the microwave and use your cook mode until the potatoes are completely soft. My microwave adds two minutes and 30 seconds per potato. So, if I want to use four potatoes, it’ll take about nine minutes to cook.
Nine minutes in the microwave versus thirty minutes boiling on the stove. My mom always has those quick, time saving tips!
Be sure to see how she saves time making Trini style dhal. Hint: she uses a pressure cooker and makes dhal in under 15 minutes.
My mother-in-law adds butter to her aloo choka which makes the dish smoother, creamier and tastier. I agree though the choka will no longer be vegan.
Aloo Choka Recipe
Trini Style Aloo Choka (Caribbean Aloo Chokha)
- 4 potatoes
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (grated or minced)
- ¼ tsp cumin powder (optional)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- freshly chopped chives, cilantro and culantro
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Wash the potatoes. Cut in half.
- Add to a pot of boiling water.
- Cook until the potatoes are soft.
- Allow the potatoes to cool enough to handle.
- Peel the skin and mash.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Sauté onions in coconut oil.
- Add garlic and chopped pepper.
- Mix the onions, garlic and pepper into the mashed potatoes.
- Add cumin powder, fresh chives, cilantro and culantro.
- Incorporate fully.
- Serve hot with sada roti or dhal and rice.
Liked this recipe? Then check out these Trini favorites: