Sunday, May 21, 2006

Aloo Gobi

I am a bad, bad blogger. I will post more frequently in the future, I promise. It's just that sometimes my real life (i.e. lab) gets in the way.
My last Boston Organics Box included a head of cauliflower - the most perfect one I have ever seen. It was huge and entirely unblemished - no brown spots or wilting of any sort. I wanted to do it justice. Since I am getting very tired of roasting vegetables (I think it is a cook's cop out - there is nothing easier) I decided to be a little more creative. The first thought I had was (no, not that I want wine) Aloo Gobi. This dish is on the menu at every North Indian restaurant on the planet (really, I checked). Aloo = potato, Gobi = cauliflower in Hindi. I know about 10 words in Hindi and they are all food items. I also know how to say "fat," as in person. Go figure.
There are many versions of Aloo Gobi. The one I went with is in the Indian cookbook Archna bought (see below). I was so incredibly proud of myself - I actually had all the ingredients I needed for this dish on hand. For someone who usually only has a water filter and beer in the fridge, this was a momentous occasion.
The recipe was super easy. It started as many Indian dishes do, by toasting cumin seeds in oil.
Once the cumin seeds started to turn brown and fragrant, I added onion, ginger, and green chili. The wall of smell that came up from the pan was so intense. It smelled like all of my friends' houses when I was growing up - a combination of the rich smell of warming ginger and a bit of spice from the chili. This is when I got really picture-happy. And happy in general. After frying the onion till golden, I added the cauliflower, potatoes and spices - turmeric (orange), ground coriander (light brown), garam masala (dark brown), and salt (white. duh).
After toasting the spices a bit and mixing them up with the potatoes and cauliflower (the picture at the very beginning of the post) I added a bit of water, covered the pan and cooked till the potatoes were soft. Garnished with a bit of cilantro and I was done. One could serve this with bread or rice (or naan, or chapatis, if you want to be all smart about it). I had it with bread for lunch. In lab. Did I mention that I made this when I went home during a three hour incubation, on a Saturday? Now that's multitasking. I am practically certain that not all Indian dishes are this easy to prepare. It is possible that Archna took pity on me and got the "Indian cooking for white girls" edition of the cookbook, but the final product made me very happy nonetheless. It looked right, which is always a good sign. The turmeric provided the yellow tint of the final product. The fact that not a lot of stirring is involved in this recipe allowed the vegetables to remain whole and not break apart. The potatoes were completely cooked through and soft but the cauliflower still offered a bit of resistance. The cumin seeds added the occasional crunch, the cilantro was the ever necessary spot of green freshness in a cooked dish (garnishes are often underestimated when cooking at home, I think). It all tasted as I hoped it would (!!) - none of the spices overwhelmed the ingredients, but complemented them. The cauliflower tasted as good as it looked in the box - love organics. If only my real life gave me a a little more time to play, I would expound upon my love for organic produce, but alas...

Aloo Gobi, from Food of the World, India by Beverly LeBlanc. (I didn't make her name up. That's really the name of the woman who wrote this Indian cookbook. Is that prejudiced of me? Like I said, this may be the white girl edition but it is still a great cookbook, in this white girl's opinion).

Just in case it is not obvious, the comments in italics are mine, and not those of Beverly LeBlanc.

Serves 4-6

4 tbsp ghee or vegetable or peanut oil (I may know how to say "fat" in Hindi, but there is no way I am going to cook with ghee. I draw the authenticity line at ghee. I used vegetable oil.)
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 fresh green chili, seeded and thinly sliced
(seeding chilis is for weaklings. No, I did not seed the chili.)
1lb cauliflower, cut into small florets
1lb large waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks.
(I used baking potatoes [organic, of course] instead of waxy ones, like Yukon Gold. It made no difference.)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp salt
(that is a complete lie. I used at least 3 times that amount. You will have to taste as you go along.)
Fresh cilantro sprigs, to garnish

1. Add oil to skillet over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds and toast for about 30 seconds until they crackle and start to brown.
2. Immediately (it really says immediately in the book. very funny) stir in the onion, ginger, and chili and stir for 5-8 minutes until the onion is golden.
3. Stir in the cauliflower and the potatoes, followed by the coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and salt and continue stirring for about 30 seconds longer (If you stir for 40 seconds, it will still be ok, I promise. This woman sounds like a disciplinarian).
4. Cover the pan, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Occasionally check that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in water, if necessary.
5. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.



anthony griffiths said...

That looks excellent! I don't know where you get time to do all of this, I really don't. However, as you point out, this book is clearly Bev's Indian cooking book for white girls.

Jonathan said...

Looks downright fucking tasty. And the pics are amazing too. I have not licked the screen yet though, at least not here in lab.

anthony griffiths said...

Jonathan, you screen licker you.

Jonathan said...

Anthony, there's more where that came from, just so you wait for the Arctic Monkeys...