I had so much fun writing the last post that I thought I’d write another one since I already had the ingredients for it. I made aloo gobhi or potato cauliflower last night and even remembered to take pictures, so the timing worked out well. Gobhi or cauliflower is a misunderstood vegetable, I find, in the western hemisphere. People either dismiss it outright or feel the need to hide its goodness in puree form in kids’ pasta or some such. Granted, it is bland if you attempt to take it at face value, but eastern spices have a way of making even the dullest vegetables sparkle on the plate. A head of steamed cauli sprinkled with S&P is barely meh, but saute it with some cumin, paprika and garam masala and, voila, you have a dish worth praise.
Pierce Brosnan may be the closest thing to Hollywood royalty. He’s a stunner, always top-notch groomed, suave etc. BUT, and don’t give me flack for it, he’s also a tad bland as far as impossibly handsome men go. To me, he always seems to be holding something back on screen. Some may call it a restrained, subtle performance, but I find I never get as involved with him as I do with, say, Anthony Hopkins or Susan Sarandon. And for me, that’s not a good thing. But anyway, he’s a Bond and hobnobs with the rich and famous. So does cauliflower. In northern India, it is the most common vegetable to be served on festivals or other auspicious days. When I was growing up, aloo gobhi was a standard feature on wedding menus, Diwali dinners or any other occasion when special, non-everyday food needed to be served. It seemed to pair well with chana masala (chickpea curry) or rajma (kidney bean stew) or any kind of kofta (veggie meatball) — dishes that most homes did not cook on a regular basis. So, even though the cauli is merely bland to begin with, it dresses up nicely to hold its own among VIPs. Much like Mr. Brosnan.
Curried Potato-Cauliflower (Aloo Gobhi)
1 head cauliflower, separated into small florets or roughly chopped
1 medium-large potato, cubed
1 small red onion, minced
1 tbsp ginger-garlic mix, grated or finely minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
spice mixture: 1 tsp each turmeric, coriander powder, paprika, dried fenugreek (optional)
1 dried red chilli, whole
salt and lemon juice, to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Heat oil in a wok or saucepan. Add cumin seeds and as soon as they splutter add red chilli, followed by onions and ginger garlic mix. Saute on medium heat until onions turn translucent.
- Add potatoes and spice mixture and saute for 2 mins, covered.
- Add cauliflower, lower heat, cover, and let cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft. Do not add water. (Water dilutes the essence of a curry compromising taste and contributing to a mushy texture.)
- Remove from heat and mix lemon juice. Garnish with minced cilantro, if desired. I’ve heard of people garnishing with shredded coconut but I’ve never developed a taste for it.
- Serve hot with naan or rice.
As with most Indian curries, this is even more delicious the next day. Be careful, however, about packing leftovers for lunch or even when opening the lid of the container it’s stored in. The first whiff of stored cooked cauliflower can put a skunk to shame. Once you get past that, though, it’s all deliciousness in yummy paradise. After all, being close to royalty must exact a toll on its bland subjects as well!