Sunday, January 31, 2016

Indian Spiced Potatoes, Cauliflower and Peas (Aloo Gobi), Two Ways

America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
 The complete recipe appears at the end of this post.

From Chicken One:
The recipe we used for this post mentions it's Punjabi, a state in India bordering Pakistan. In my research for this post, I discovered that it's called Aloo Gobi, with Aloo meaning "potatoes" and Gobi meaning "cauliflower". I also discovered that it's a staple of Indian restaurant menus all over the world. It's also considered a Pakistani dish.

I caution you to use boiling potatoes - red, yellow or gold - not baking potatoes like russets. Boiling potatoes will stand up to, well, boiling, and not go to mush in this dish. You can see the beautiful, giant red potato I used below:
That said, if you cook any potato too long it will become squishy, as will cauliflower. So don't overcook them.

As with any common, traditional recipe, each home cook has his or her own spin. With Indian food, it's the spice combination that gets the creative twist. Therefore, many different spice combos are possible here, including using coconut shavings, curry leaves, black mustard seeds, etc. All of the mixes seem to use turmeric, however, which gives a characteristic yellow color.

Since we're just beginning our foray into the spices, we stuck to the recipe in the book. But I already have some ideas in the back of my mind for the next time I make this. For one thing, I'd kick up the heat a little.

It's pretty straightforward:
Partially cook the potatoes and set aside. Then process the aromatics together...
and set aside. Whisk tomato paste, water, lemon juice and a little sugar. Set aside. I'd also recommend combining the spices in a bowl together and set them aside as well.

Once you have all these things set aside, it's an easy cook up: saute the aromatics, add the spices, add the cauliflower, potatoes and peas. Cook a few minutes and serve.

From Chicken Two:
I'm really excited to be cooking recipes from this region of the world. Besides experimenting with some great tasting dishes, we're learning about the region, customs, spices and history. It's a great way to travel if you can't actually get there any time soon!

When we decided to cook Indian food, we went out and bought a few cookbooks that we hoped would be authentic. Wouldn't you know, this recipe came from a book we already had in our collection - Williams Sonoma, Asian Cooking. When we asked an employee of our favorite Indian market about cookbooks, she referred us to the internet! Ha ha! Isn't that the way it is these days! Plenty of recipes there!

The recipe below was wonderful, with all the spices and texture. I substituted parsnips for potatoes. 
I guess it wouldn't be called Aloo Gobi but when I tried to translate parsnips into Punjabi, it still read parsnips. So….I made Parsnips Gobi, I guess! The parsnips kept their shape and didn't turn mushy. Frankly, there wasn't much difference in the taste between this and the potato version. Spices rule! This dish can be used as a starter, a side,or, as we did, a main dish served over rice.
You can store in the fridge for 3-4 days but don't freeze because it can get pretty mushy.

Hint: Chicken One used a  pot with high sides, like a stock pot and I used a wider style like a large frying pan. When partially covered, my liquid evaporated faster and the spices became more concentrated. (This doesn't give you a lot of liquid to put over the rice, if that's important to you.)

Indian Spiced Potatoes, Cauliflower and Peas (Aloo Gobi)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided into 1 tablespoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • 1 large (about 1/2 lb/250g) boiling potato
  • 1 small head (about 1 1/4 lb/625g) cauliflower
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 2-inch (5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup (2oz/60g) ghee or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup (5oz/155g) English peas or thawed frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Bring a large saucepan ¾ full of water to a boil and stir in 1 tablespoon salt. While it heats, peel potato and cut into 1-inch (2.54 cm) cubes. Trim and core cauliflower and separate into 1-inch (2.54 cm) florets. Add potato cubes to boiling water. Cook until partly tender but not done, 6-7 minutes. Drain into colander; rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside. In food processor or mortar, combine onion, ginger, garlic and chile. Grind to a smooth paste. Set aside. Whisk together tomato paste, lemon juice, sugar and 1 cup (8oz/250ml) water. Set aside. In Dutch oven or large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the ghee/oil. Add onion paste; sauté til it just begins to turn brown, 4-5 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Stir to mix. Add cauliflower and sauté til coated, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in tomato paste mixture, potato cubes and peas. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir gently so veggies don’t fall apart. Transfer to a warm bowl, garnish with cilantro and serve at once.
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