Aloo Gobi, a standard of Indian cuisine, has had my attention for a while now, a combination of cauliflower, potatoes, sometimes peas, cooked together with a piquant combination of a chef’s favored spices, garam masala. With this in mind, I bought a head of cauliflower the other day, a year-round brassica, especially appreciated in winter, and some organic asparagus, steadfastly of early spring.
On the cusp of winter, just passed, and now early spring, a meal centered around Aloo Gobi is adaptable to both, or all seasons. A cavalier attitude about ingredients seems justified, encouraged even, when you know that there are versions of Aloo Gobi from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, and elsewhere, made unique and extraordinary by each chef and home cook. Pretty sure that my adding asparagus and chives won’t undermine this classic.
Aloo Gobi (Spicy Cauliflower & Potatoes) Recipe
Ingredients: 1 small – medium head of cauliflower, rinsed and florets separated/ 2 medium potatoes, medium dice/3 cloves finely chopped or pressed garlic, 3 t grated fresh ginger/Ancho chili, optional. Seeds removed and chopped to make 1 – 2 t, or a piece kept whole and removed before serving/ 2 T peanut oil, divided/ 1 T ground coriander, 1/2 t ground turmeric/ 1 t cumin seed, 1/2 t black mustard seed/ 1 C water, divided/ Salt & pepper to taste/ 1/2# fresh asparagus, roasted or steamed/ 3 T chopped, fresh chives.
Also: Frozen peas, thinly sliced sweet pepper and onion are good additions if you have them on hand. Add peppers or onion to pan along with cauliflower and potatoes; add frozen peas to the pan for last few minutes of cooking. Double or triple the paste mixed with spices, refrigerate the extra and embellish whatever’s cooking with these amazing flavors.
Directions: Using a mortar and pestle, or a small grinder, mix garlic, ginger and half of the peanut oil to form a thick paste/ Add other spices, half of the water (1/2 C) to this mix, stir together and set aside/ In a sauce pan, heat the other tablespoon of oil to medium hot, add cumin and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle momentarily/ Add spice paste, turn heat to medium low, and while stirring, allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes/ Add cauliflower and potatoes, sweet or hot pepper if using/ Stir together so that vegetables are coated with the spices/ Add the other 1/2 C water, place a lid on, and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender/ Remove lid and simmer for another 5 minutes/ If vegetables are done, remove them from the pan and continue to simmer the sauce until it reduces and thickens slightly – just a minute or two/ Add roasted asparagus to the bowl/ Spoon sauce over winter and spring veggies, sprinkle with chives.
Dig in and relish the change of season. For a meal, serve Aloo Gobi with coconut rice: substitute coconut milk for all or part of the usual liquid, water or stock; sprinkle with halved or finely chopped cashews when serving. And a bowl of raita made with cucumber, sweet onion, or carrots would be good.
There are many versions of Aloo Gobi, perhaps as many as there are chefs in the world, but the inspiration for this one came from Aarti Sequeira.
Jamie Oliver’s Aloo Gobi, which I’ll try next time.
Both winter and spring produce featured here, but make no mistake, spring has blossomed!