Monday, 10 October 2016

Alu Gobi

This is, I am told, a classic Punjabi dish, but it has travelled far and wide both in India and outside of it. It requires a fair bit of chopping (and grinding) and your undivided attention while it cooks, but it is not difficult. Serve it with chapatis, naan, or steamed rice.

Tomatoes and green chiles are not around for quite as long as cauliflower; if they are gone you can still make this using canned tomatoes and seasoning it with a little hot red chile powder.

Parboil the potatoes according to whether they are waxy or floury, and how soft you would like them to be. Waxy potatoes boiled for less time will maintain their identity, while starchy potatoes boiled longer will soften and lose their edges - which is best is a matter of personal taste. The amount of oil to use will vary a bit as well, as different potatoes will absorb different amounts - use enough to prevent sticking or scorching, but try not to add more than that.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 15 minutes prep time

Alu Gobi or Aloo Gobi; a cauliflower and potato curry

Mix the Spices:
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
5 or 6 pods green cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a few good scrapes of nutmeg

Grind the cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, and fennel briefly. Fish out the bits of papery green husk from the cardamom, then grind the spices thoroughly. Mix in the remaining spices.

Make the Alu Gobi:
500 grams (1 pound) tomatoes OR 2 cups crushed tomato
generous 500 grams (1 pound) potatoes
scant 500 grams (1 pound) cauliflower
1 large onion
1 or 2 green Jalapeño or other hot chile peppers
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons peeled grated ginger
4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
the juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Put a pot of water on to boil. Blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute, then remove them to cold water but keep the pot boiling. Have the potatoes ready; washed, trimmed, and cut into large dice. Put them into the water and boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and chop the tomatoes and put them aside. Wash, trim, and cut the cauliflower into florets a bit larger than the potato pieces. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, core, and finely chop the Jalapeño. Peel and mince the garlic and peel and grate the ginger - set those aside in the same bowl.

When the potatoes have boiled for 5 or 10 minutes, heat about half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the well-drained potatoes, and fry for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until they begin to turn colour. Add the cauliflower pieces, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently; they can acquire a few brown spots. Then add the rest of the oil, followed by the chopped onion. Mix in well and cook for a minute or two, then add about 2/3 of the spice mixture and the garlic and ginger. Mix them in well and cook for another minute or two.

Add the tomatoes and mix in thoroughly. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. It's a good idea to keep it partially covered, and keep an eye on the moisture level - it should end up quite thick but if it looks like drying out, add a few tablespoons of water at a time to keep the sauce a sludge rather than a paste. Add the remaining 1/3 of the spices for the last few minutes of cooking. The vegetables should be tender and everything well amalgamated; and let the sauce thicken right up in the last few minutes of cooking.

Mix in the lime juice and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the washed, dried, and chopped cilantro.

Last year at this time I made Cauliflower with Mushrooms & Garlic


Megan said...

Good, reliable recipe. I make a version of this frequently. I would recommend a slightly different order. First sauté the onions on med/low heat until nicely caramelized. Then push them aside in the pan to make some space. Lightly fry the spices, ginger, and garlic in some oil until the spices bloom. Then add the potatoes and cauliflower to the onion/spice mixture. The taste of the cooked spices is noticeably rounder and richer.

For garnish at the end, besides the coriander and lime, it can also be nice to reserve some of the fried onions to sprinkle on top. Or to gently fry some garlic in oil and drizzle on top.

Ferdzy said...

Thanks, Megan.

I have to say my instinct is to put the onions in first too, but I find that they end up overcooked and the potatoes end up undercooked. Perhaps if they were removed, then added in again later. Also I trust the first round of spices go in early enough to fry in the oil along with the potatoes. That's the goal, anyway.

Fried onions on top sound excellent.