I posted a recipe for alu-gobi last November. In the tedious preamble to that recipe I noted that alu-gobi—like most dishes in the vast Indian home cooking repertoire—is more of a genre than a specific dish. That shouldn’t be surprising considering the dish is just named for the two major ingredients in it. Cauliflower and potatoes cooked with a rotating cast of spices: that’s all alu-gobi is. The recipe I posted in November involved a simple spice-mix heavy on the coriander seed, and a fair bit of water for a fair bit of gravy. This one has a different mix of spices and tastes quite different. And as it’s made with very little water the texture is also very different. I like to make it keeping the cauliflower fairly crunchy but that’s easy enough to sort out if your tastes run otherwise. It’s a simple dish that’s not going to set off any fireworks but it’s very good.
- 1.5 lbs cauliflower, broken into florets
- 3/4 lb potatoes, cut into pieces about the size of the largest florets
- 3-5 pods green cardamom
- 2-3 dried red chillies
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 tspn grated fresh ginger
- 1 tspn grated fresh garlic
- The following ground to a coarse powder: 1 heaped tspn coriander seed, 1 heaped tspn cumin seed, 1/2 tspn black mustard seed, 1/4 tspn methi/fenugreek seed, a small piece of cinnamon/cassia bark.
- 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 3/4 cup pureed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- Salt to taste
- 1-2 tblspns oil of choice
- 1 tspn chopped dhania/cilantro for garnish
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saute pan or karhai or wok and when it shimmers send the cardamom pods for a swim in it.
- When the cardamom becomes fragrant break the dried chillies into the oil and saute for about 30 seconds.
- Add the onions and saute till nicely browned—about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute for another minute or so.
- Add the potatoes, mix thoroughly and stir-fry for about 10 minutes or so.
- Add the ground masalas and haldi, mix and saute for another couple of minutes.
- Add the cauliflower, mix and saute for another five minutes or so.
- Add the tomatoes and salt, mix and saute till the tomatoes have completely broken down.
- Add the water, mix in, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring from time to time, till the water has mostly evaporated and the potatoes are done.
- Garnish with the dhania and serve with rice or chapatis with dal.
- As with all dishes of this kind, the spice-mix is more of an indication than a hard and fast thing. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking (but don’t increase the amount of fenugreek seed). And you can, of course, make it spicier still by adding some hot chilli powder along with the other powdered masalas.
- As with the other recipe, you could add some peas to this as well (towards the very end).
- If you’re not as concerned about oil, you could saute the potato first till almost done and keep it aside. Then saute the cauliflower till almost done and keep it aside. Then do all the other steps and add the sauteed potatoes and cauliflower after the tomatoes have cooked down and continue till the potatoes are fully done. If you go this route you won’t need as much water.