Chakna is a slang term that refers to the munchies consumed with drinks. These spicy Nepali fried potatoes are one of my favorite snacks to serve as a small bite. I love this dish, which I learned to make when I went to Nepal for my regional cuisine qualification, quite a long time ago now. Nepali cuisine is robust and flavourful, a blend of Indian and Tibetan influences.—Rohit Ghai

Tareko Aloo ~ Nepali-Style Fried Potatoes FAQs

What can I substitute for ajwain seed?

Ajwain is a pretty assertive, dominant spice with flavors reminiscent of thyme, oregano, and caraway, all at once. Any of those herbs and spices will make a pretty decent substitute, or even better, a combination of all three. Ajwain is often used in rich, fried foods because it has a sharp, tangy bite that cuts through the fat.

What kind of oil should I use for frying these potatoes?

When deep-frying, you want an oil that has a high smoke point, a fairly mild (neutral) flavor, and a low cost – particularly if you’re frying a lot. Canola, safflower, soybean, and peanut oil are all pretty affordable, neutral-flavored oils that have a smoke point of 400℉ and above. Anything labeled ‘vegetable oil’ is generally a generic blend of oils. Unless specified on the label, you have no way of knowing the smoke point of an oil. When frying, avoid using products that do not specify a smoke point.

Tareko aloo in three bowls, garnished with rings of scallion.

Tareko Aloo ~ Nepali-Style Fried Potatoes

5 from 1 vote
Tareko aloo, Nepali-style fried potatoes, are a gorgeous dish of crispy fried potatoes that get coated with spiced oil and lemon juice right before serving. Serve as a side dish or with other plates of small bites for a delicious cocktail hour snack.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories195 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes


For the fried potatoes

  • Mild vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound 10 ounces potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) wedges

For the tareko aloo

  • 2 teaspoons mustard-flavored oil (or combine 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder with 1 3/4 teaspoons mild vegetable oil)
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/4 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium (7 oz) yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 medium (5 oz) tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 scallion, chopped


Fry the potatoes

  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, or using a deep fryer, add enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches (13 cm) and heat to 340°F (160°C). Working in batches, if necessary, fry the potato wedges until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes per batch.
  • Line a bowl with a paper towel. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potato wedges to the paper towel.

Make the tareko aloo

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the dried red chile, ajwain, and garlic. Stir in the onion and tomato and sauté until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the ground spices. Add the fried potato slices and lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and scatter over the scallion, to garnish.
Tarkari Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 195 kcalCarbohydrates: 40 gProtein: 5 gFat: 3 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 17 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 5 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Rohit Ghai. Photo © 2021 Maja Smend. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

There are some people who should not make this tareko aloo recipe. If you are one of those folks who cannot eat poutine, or chili cheese fries, or anything where the crispness of your fried potato is compromised in any way, this recipe is not for you. But if you are willing to give a little in the perfectly crisp department to get the benefit of some popping flavors, then give this one a whirl.

What you are going to do here is make some perfectly crisp, delicious homemade chips, and then sog them up a bit with onion, tomato, and lemon juice. So they are no longer crunchy chips, but they are drenched-in-flavor fried potatoes, and still delicious, just in a different way.

Crispy potatoes with Indian spices? What’s not to love?! Ajwain’s bright peppermint and anise notes pair beautifully with the zing of the lemon and tomato for this tareko aloo. Some planning ahead is required to make sure your topping and your fried potatoes are done about the same time, but it’s better if your topping is finished before your potatoes than the other way around…you want to eat those potatoes when they are as freshly fried as possible. And trust me, you’ll have no problems putting these away.

I don’t think I would change anything…but I love the flavor of the topping so much that I want to eat it more often, and I am incredibly reluctant to fry anything at home. I don’t think the recipe would be improved with non-fried potatoes, but I would love to swap the fried potato slices with oven-roasted potato cubes and I would happily see this on my table all the time.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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