Chukauni is a potato and yogurt salad tempered with mustard seed and turmeric. It is a regional dish from the Western part of Nepal and enjoyed as a side dish. It is a vegetarian & gluten-free recipe.
I was introduced to chukauni (potato & yogurt salad from the Western part of Nepal – Palpa district) by my friend Ruchi in college. She is a fantastic cook and I still recall eating yogurt & mustard-forward potato salad, very different than potato salad I grew up eating in Kathmandu.
Chukauni is often enjoyed as a part of a meal/side dish with other Nepali dishes such as choyela, chiura (beaten/flattened rice), bara etc. Instead of a regular mayo-based potato salad, I served chukauni alongside Texas BBQ favorites brisket, hot dogs, mac n cheese, salad etc and everyone (non-Nepalese friends) LOVED chukauni.
To make chukauni, these are few key ingredients.
Potatoes : waxy potatoes, those lower in starch such as new potatoes, fingerling potatoes, or red potatoes are best for making potato salad as they hold their shape well.
Yogurt : plain, full-fat or low-fat or Greek yogurt will work just fine.
Mustard oil : you can certainly make chukauni without mustard oil but I love that distinctive pungency from mustard oil here. A little bit goes a long way.
Fenugreek seed: tempering at the end is a great way to build flavors and bring everything together. chukauni calls for fenugreek seeds & turmeric being tempered at the very end. If desired, you can add cumin and dried red chilies too.
**Both mustard oil and fenugreek seed can be purchased at most Southeast Asian grocery stores. You will notice that mustard oil has “For External Use Only” Label – I am linking an article from my friend Nik Sharma for further reading if you are concerned/want more info on this.
Once you have gathered ingredients, making chukauni is an easy, one-bowl recipe + tempering at the end. If you are hosting or heading to a bqq, potluck or picnic this Summer, I really hope you will give chukauni a try. The video I am sharing below is 5 years old from my facebook live and the recipe is from my friend Ruchi.
I recently realized that chukauni makes an excellent lunch salad. Inspired by Japanese egg salad (tamago sando) sandwich, simply replace half the potatoes with boiled-eggs for protein and chop everything into smaller pieces and bam – you’ve made yourself a filling, delicious lunch. Enjoy it as an open-faced toast, on a bed of lettuce, or turn into a sandwich.
Chukauni – Nepali Potato Yogurt Salad
For 4 servings
4 small potatoes (I used red potatoes)
1/2 cup plain, full-fat yogurt (depending on your preference and the thickness of yogurt, may need more or less)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 small Serrano pepper, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon lemon juice (may need more or less depending on how sour the yogurt is)
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
salt to taste
2 teaspoon mustard oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
small pinch of turmeric
chopped cilantro to garnish
In a medium pot, add potatoes and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through when pierced with a fork about 8 to 12 minutes.
Once the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Drain the potatoes and rinse them under cool water. Once cooled enough to handle, peel and cube the potatoes into chunks. Transfer to a large bowl.
To the bowl, add yogurt, chopped onion, chopped serrano, lemon juice, red chili powder, and salt. Mix everything well and adjust salt & acid to your liking. If the yogurt is too thick, add little water to help mix everything.
Heat mustard oil in a small pan. Add fenugreek seeds to the hot oil. Adjust the heat as needed and as fenugreek seeds start to turn dark, turn off the heat and add a small pinch of turmeric.
Pour the hot oil with fenugreek and turmeric to the bowl. Mix everything together, adjust the seasoning and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Enjoy the salad room temperature or serve it chilled.
**If making chukauni with eggs, I’d replace 2 small potatoes with 2 large eggs. Boil potatoes and eggs together but remove eggs around 6-8 minute depending on how well-done you’d like your eggs. I like mine with slightly runny yolk around 6 minutes.
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