Though I’ve made it look different by adding “matar” to the name, this is probably my 78th or 79th recipe for alu-gobi (other versions here, here, here and here). And it probably won’t be my last. As the name of the dish indicates, it’s not a fixed specific dish but a genre: alu-gobi or potato-cauliflower, in this case with matar/peas added on. I am not in search of the “perfect” or “best” alu-gobi—it does not exist. I am merely recording the variations in how I approach it. Modulations in the spices and proportions of spices used have a major effect on the final flavours; and textures too can be varied significantly by varying techniques and steps and also by varying the amount and type of liquid ingredients used. This is a version which is somehow both hearty and subtle: there isn’t a huge amount of spices used; just enough to showcase the cauliflower. The peas add a bright, savoury accent of their own and the whole—especially when eaten with chapatis and dal—is the very definition of comfort food.
- 1 lb cauliflower, broken up into florets
- 1/2 lb potatoes cut into chunks roughly the size of the largest florets
- 1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
- 1 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 tspn grated garlic
- 1 tspn grated ginger
- The following ground together into a fine powder: 1 tblspn coriander seeds, 1/2 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tspn brown mustard seeds
- 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 1 tspn chilli powder
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1 cup water fresh off the boil
- A big pinch garam masala powder of choice
- 1 tblspn chopped dhania/cilantro for garnish
- Heat 3-4 tblspns of oil over medium heat in a karhai or wok and when the oil shimmers add the potatoes. Saute, stirring consistently for 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spatula remove the potatoes to a plate/bowl and reserve.
- Heat another tblspn of oil in the karhai and add the zeera.
- As soon as the zeera becomes aromatic and splits—but before it darkens—add the onion and saute for 3-5 minutes or till it begins to brown around the edges.
- Add the ginger and garlic, mix in and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
- Add the cauliflower, mix in thoroughly and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the powdered spices, the haldi and the chilli powder and stir-fry for another 2 minutes or so.
- Add the tomatoes and the salt and saute till the tomatoes have completely broken down.
- Return the potatoes to the pan, mix in and add the water. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook till the potatoes are just fork tender.
- Add the peas, mix in and return to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garam masala and mix in.
- Garnish with the dhania and serve.
- The key to alu-gobi, especially when not made in a dry style, in my view is controlling the texture of the potatoes and cauliflower. These days I enjoy alu-gobi more when the cauliflower has some crunch to it and that’s why the potatoes are half-cooked and only added to the rest later.
- I say 2-3 minutes of sauteeing the cauliflower after you add it; the visual cue is to look for the cauliflower to start shrinking—that’s the point at which I add the spices.
- Since the spices go mostly over the cauliflower when added—and not directly on the hot pan—you don’t need to worry as much about scorching them but care should still be taken at this step to keep everything moving.
- I’ve been making this of late with a fairly hot chilli powder but you can use whatever level of heat floats your boat.
- If you really like peas you could double the quantity if you like.