February 28, 2013
One year when visiting India with my family, my dad took me to the hills in Punjab to a religious retreat. His family, especially my late grandfather, was known to make annual excursions to these remote, ascetic enclaves huddled in the cool mountainous regions of the northern state in India where I was born. There, prayer and meditation were a focus. But, as important to my grandfather, a hardcore foodie – were the meals. The food in what were essentially campsites, was something I have never eaten before in my life..nor likely will I ever eat again unless I go back. At once simple, fresh, and completely fulfilling. It’s here that I came to finally love Aloo Gobi, spicy potatoes and cauliflower.
Sitting on the hard floor, I remember being given one stainless steel plate with a mound of the sabzi piled to the side. The other end was for the stack of homemade rotis they soon carried to us. Leaning down, spiritual volunteers gently placed steaming Indian flatbread folded in half on our plates. I am not sure how many I ate. At one point I lost count. It was truly that delicious. The Aloo Gobi was dry, practically crackling. The cauliflower and potatoes just blended to perfection smothered in an onslaught of freshly ground spices. Since that experience, I have always made my Aloo Gobi dry as well – without tomatoes – in an attempt to capture that moment even for just one meal.
3 tablespoons ghee or oil (grapeseed, canola, vegetable, or mustard)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 large yellow or red onion, roughly diced (2 cups)
1 pinch coarse sea salt
2 heaping tablespoons grated or minced ginger
4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or minced
1 large potato (any), peeled and diced (2 cups)
4 green Thai chiles, stems removed and finely sliced
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (8 cups)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 heaping tablespoon fresh, minced cilantro
2. Add onion and pinch of salt. Cook 2 minutes until the onions brown slightly – mix.
3. Add ginger and garlic. Cook another 40 seconds, mixing occasionally.
5. Add cauliflower, garam masala, coriander, red chile, and salt. Mix well until all the florets are yellow from the turmeric. Cook 2 minutes and add water.
6. Cover pan, turn heat down to medium and cook dish in its own steam 10-12 minutes, mixing occasionally. Cook a little less if you want a tiny bit of crunch (like me), and cook a little longer if you want the vegetables to be a little softer.
7. Turn heat off. Add cilantro, and put lid back on. Let dish sit for 3-5 minutes to help flavors all come together. Serve with roti, naan, or basmati rice.
Recipe yields 7 cups
Make this one for your Sunday Super Bowl fest, and I guarantee your friends and family will love you! I like to serve it on a large platter with Aloo Gobi in the middle and basmati rice spooned all around the gobi so that guests can scoop the gobi and rice together themselves. You could also replace the rice with pita chips.
Protein Boost: Up your protein in this dish by adding edamame. Put in one cup along with your potato .. or do the more traditional thing and add peas. They can be frozen, just run them under water to defrost slightly before adding.