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Aloo Gobi will Make your Mouth Happy
Cauliflower is one of the in-vogue vegetables right now. It seems like you can't start up a browser without seeing cauliflower used as some kind of stand-in for simple carbs: a rice substitute, a bread ingredient or even the base of a pizza crust. It's not tough to understand why people are trying to find ways to stay away from nutritionally questionable carb choices while substituting something healthier. For cauliflower in particular, I recently became aware of an article offering a substantial summary of research into the nutritional benefits of cauliflower (with references) compiled by Helen Nichols from well-beingsecrets.com. I can't say it any better than she has (nor am I qualified to!) so if you'd like to dig a little deeper into what's in your cauliflower, by all means check out Helen's article.
As tempting as cauliflower-based starch replacements for pizza crust and rice are, you can never go wrong with the classics. And aloo gobi is definitely one classic cauliflower dish. The magic is in the spice—a perfect blend of spicy, tangy and salty. It's a popular North Indian accompaniment and a delicious way to get your cauliflower.
Of course, I wouldn't even know of aloo gobi's existence if it weren't for Toronto's fantastic Indian restaurants with their wide array of vegetarian offerings. Like most other dishes I fall in love with at a restaurant, I found a bit of a learning curve when I tried to make it at home. This aloo gobi instructional video from Manjula's Kitchen was an excellent starting point, but I had trouble with it, particularly with getting all the potatoes cooked all the way through. (I also made the mistake of doubling the recipe to make more—this is one of those dishes that's best cooked in small batches because you want as much of the food in contact with the hot pan as possible.) I think you'll see similarities with Manjula's recipe, but having made it a dozen times or so, I've made changes that make it more satisfying for me.
Given the exotic flavours, it's a little surprising that it doesn't use many exotic ingredients. The only one that may be a little bit hard to find is dry mango powder, known as amchoor. It's a basic staple at Indian grocery stores, but if you can't find any, I've seen some aloo gobi recipes substitute a little lemon juice instead. The dish really benefits from the balance provided by some kind of citrusy ingredient.
2 medium-sized white potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
2 cups of cauliflower in largish florets (cut the really big ones in half)
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 Tbl coriander powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves, depending on size
1 tsp salt
2 green chilies, seeded and cut into thin slices, 1/2" long
1 tsp amchoor powder (dry mango powder)
cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
After quartering the potatoes, place them in a large pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and let cook for 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes, let them return to room temperature, and then refrigerate them for several hours (overnight is fine).
Peel about 1" of ginger (enough for about 2 tsp chopped). If you have a mortar and pestle, slice the ginger into small pieces and then pound the pieces to a pulp with a little bit of salt. If you don't have a mortar and petstle, grate the ginger using a very small grater to get roughly the same pulpy consistency. Add the ginger along with the coriander powder, cayenne pepper and turmeric to a small bowl.
Add 3 Tbl of water and mix well into a paste.
In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot enough, add the cumin seeds. They should immediately start to sizzle. Add the bay leaves and mix.
Carefully add the spice paste mixture to the pan. (It may splatter when it comes in contact with the hot oil.)
Mix well so the oil takes on the colour of the spices.
Add the cauliflower and the salt to the pan and mix well again.
Put the lid on the pan, reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup water, stir, cover again and let cook for another 5 minutes.
Slice the potatoes 1/4" thick and small enough to be bite-sized. Add the potatoes to the pan and mix well, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes, stirring after 5.
Add the amchoor powder to the pan, along with the green chili slices.
Stir well and let fry uncovered until all of the water has evaporated, but not long enough that the potatoes start to lose their shape. Stir every couple of minutes.
Add the cilantro garnish if using, and remove from heat. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
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Posted: Monday, May 18, 2015