Aloo Bhorta (Spiced Potato Mash)

Mustard oil, chiles, onions, and cilantro enliven the blank canvas of soft potatoes in this Bangladeshi favorite.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    20 minutes


By Dina Begum

Updated on January 30, 2024

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In her new cookbook Made in Bangladesh, Dina Begum calls bhorta “the quintessential soul food of Bangladeshi cuisine.” The canon of bhortas is vast, and includes hundreds of varieties enjoyed everywhere from rural dinner tables to the country’s finest restaurants. This recipe for potato (aloo) bhorta, adapted from Begum’s book, is one of the most familiar and tastiest versions, mashing boiled potatoes with smoked fried chiles, sautéed onions, and pungent mustard oil. It can be served on its own with rice (a carb-on-carb delight) or as part of a larger bhorta-focused feast.

A note on ingredients: The chiles used in bhortas are typically dried red Indian chiles, fresh green chiles (sometimes called Thai or finger chiles), or a combination of the two. Use gloves to protect your hands when mixing chiles into bhortas. Mustard oil is an important element of many Bangladeshi and Indian recipes, and can be found online. (If unavailable, Begum recommends combining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon English mustard.)

Adapted with permission from Made in Bangladesh by Dina Begum, published by ‎Hardie Grant Publishing, November 2023.


  • 2–3 medium potatoes (about 1 lb.), peeled and quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 dried red Indian chiles, such as Kashmiri
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard oil (see headnote), plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves


Step 1

To a large pot, add the potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until easily pierced with a fork, about 8–10 minutes. Drain in a colander, then briefly run the potatoes under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.

Step 2

To a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the dried chiles and fry until almost blackened, 2–3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a medium bowl and allow to cool. Using either your fingers or a mortar and pestle, crush the chiles into small pieces. 

Step 3

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, 2–3 minutes.

Step 4

To the bowl with the potatoes, add the onions and chiles. Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, mash until the potatoes are smooth and the onions and chiles are well incorporated. Stir in the mustard oil and cilantro. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a plate, drizzle with mustard oil, and serve.

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