This, translated literally, is potato cauliflower, where aloo = potato and Gobi is cauliflower. Now, be careful, because there is gobi and then there is gobi. And, as you know, there is the Gobi, which is a desert. (Not dessert!) This is Fool Gobi, where the Fool is a Flower, thus cauliflower. (There is a bundh gobi – which is cabbage. Let’s not worry about that thing now.)
Today, we’re going to make aloo gobi in a style reminiscent of Punjabi kitchens, because, well, I know Punjabi kitchens. I know Punjabi kitchens very well, nobody knows Punjabi kitchens better than me, ok! (Digression Alert: When will that lunatic and the lunacy end?)
We’re going to need a few things, you know, the usual hardware, software and some music to swing to while we do the needful, as they say, down on the Peninsula. I will also provide you with a Pro Tip! A Tip so Pro that you’ll wonder why nobody ever told you this.
Is everyone ready?
I can’t hear you!
Off now, to our equipment list. The hardware section, the infrastructure, required to cut down, build up and create our creation. Onwards then!
- A nice big pan, high sided. I like to use a cast iron enameled pot with a lid.
- A wooden thingy to stir with, because you don’t want to scratch the enamel on the pot’s innards.
- A pair of kitchen scissors
- A chopping board
- A chopping knife, like a santoku. Not sudoku! That’s a puzzle.
- A colander.
Did I ever tell you the story of my cast iron pots and pans? No? Oh how mean of me! You should have told me!
Ok, so I do some of the cooking in the house. We all have our specialities (or crosses to bear, as I sometimes mutter, under my breath, of course). Aloo Gobi is one thing that is usually left to me to make. Apparently, the story goes that I make it well. Yep, I raise my eyebrows, too, whenever I hear that.
So I’ve had my eye on cast iron cookware for a while. I grew up, on the periphery of a Punjabi kitchen, ruled with an iron hand by a Punjabi mom, who was made of iron and used a cast iron wok to make most of her food. I knew, and, once the internet was invented and loaded with data, learned that cast iron cooking was healthy, sound and a very good thing.
I asked why we didn’t have any such thing in the house. I asked. Once every month for a few years. Then one day, we got a cast iron pan, a biggish one, in which I learned to make Fork Aloo with Bacon, recipe for which may be forthcoming if you all clamor for it. Then a smaller one arrived for unknown reasons. And then! Tada! One day! We got this pot, with a lid, enameled on the inside, cherry red on the outside! Then a bigger one! And a braiser! All in red!
I was so overwhelmed with the largesse, that I was compelled to find uses for all of them. The smaller one is used to bake sourdough loaves. The bigger one is used for kosha mangsho (Her speciality), pasta (Both of us make odd pastas).
For this recipe, I decided to use the big one as there was a fair amount of cauliflower and The Party of the Second Part plonked red skin potatoes down on my chopping board. (And who can argue with that?)
So, now we’re getting to the part where we talk about
- One cauliflower
- Red skin potatoes
- Assorted spices (we’ve been through this before! See Punjabi kitchen and equip yourself with the usual, powdered turmeric, cumin, coriander seed, garam masala, salt, chilli powder)
- Whole jeera (cumin seeds)
- Tomato (suit yourself as to quantity, but you shouldn’t need much)
- Green chilli – to taste. This is optional
- Oil of choice.
Assemble the raw ingredients. Stare diligently at the cauliflower and will it to come apart into equal size florets. It won’t. It will just sit there. So then we have to deal with it. And, so folks, we come to the Pro Tip!
PRO TIP: To chop up the cauliflower, turn it upside down. Pick up the kitchen scissors and snip away into the florets that you. FROM THE BOTTOM! Safer! Faster! Efficienter!
Here’s a suggested video to listen to while you’re doing this.
Every time McGuinn, Crosby and crew go “Turn, Turn, Turn”, you snip. Quite simple! And, of course, should you be so inclined, you can reflect on the wisdom that may be found in the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, where the lyrics come from.
Oh, I hope you remembered that colander from the equipment list! Put all the florets that you just snipped into that. Turn around and discover that two medium sized red skin potatoes have appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and are sitting on your chopping board.
Ask, “Oh, are we putting these in, as well?”
Don’t bother waiting for the reply. But cube the potatoes. Cut into half. Cut half lengthwise and then across into smaller pieces. Try and match the size of the florets. DO NOT PEEL THE POTATOES! Didn’t you read this first? What? I should have said that earlier? Well, who gets started without reading the manual? (Actually, I do! But this ain’t about me!)
Into the colander they go with the cauliflower florets! Wash thoroughly. Set aside.
Take the big pan, add oil, turn on the heat. You gotta have heat to cook anything!
Add cumin seeds, about, um a teaspoon or so. Let them start darkening. Add the cauliflower and potatoes. Add the green chilli (whole or cut into two). Turn heat up high and stir to coat everything with the oil. After exactly 5.45634 or 6.12347 minutes, start adding the spices. In this strict sequence. Remember, any other sequence is wrong, wrong, wrong and you will ruin the thing!
Cumin powder > Coriander seed powder > Garam Masala > Turmeric owder > Red Chilli powder. Stir into the mix. Wait exactly 1.34674 minutes. Add salt, to taste, stir into the mix. Add a tablespoon of water, because it’s starting to stick! Oh no! Turn the heat down! All the way! Cover with the lid! Let it simmer a bit!
Turn your attention to the tomato. Marvel at the size of the thing, a field tomato it says. Hmm! Wash, cut in half. Take the lid off the pot (or pan! Whatever!) Chop up the tomatoes into the mix.
Actually, now is a good time to remember an important detail. In this edition of the curry, I did not use the chopping board at all! Not even for the tomato! I used the old trick I learned from the Punjabi mom. Used a paring knife, held the tomato in my left hand and used my right thumb to leverage the knife and chop that tomato down! Down, right into the pot!
Stir, cover and let simmer again. Check to see if aloo is soft and cooked through.
If yes, you’re done.
Here’s the finished product! Served with pudina parathas, fresh from the freezer to tawa.
Note that stainless steel bowl?
Do you want to know what we call (!) it?
Fitting, eh? For cauliflower?
I’m not weird.