I love my vegetables and am especially fond of gobhi or cauliflower. All through winter it is the highlight of our menu on at least three meals a week. If I had to pick my favourite way to serve this, sort of like the-first-amongst-equals, it would have to be the Punjabi sookhi goobhi aloo, dry (here meaning without curry) cauliflower with potatoes. I wonder how I didn’t share this sooner?
One of the reasons it is such a regular part of our winter meals is because this vegetable is an all-pleaser. Everyone in this family actually agrees on this vegetable. Thank God for small mercies. There were initial mutterings about the other recipe (before I joined the household) that I would never cook…but they settled eventually on their own. This is a star recipe, and comes together very quickly. While the vegetables are cooking, you can prepare the roti and you have a wonderful meal ready in 30 minutes! Dal with it is good; yoghurt, better. Slice some mooli (daikon radish) on the side, or maybe you have some leftover bharleli mirchi, and you have put together a delicious meal in a jiffy.
The stars of this recipe are fresh ginger and garam masala, that combine to fill my kitchen with an aroma that I associate with one of my favourite meals. If you want to try variations of this recipe, such as addition of tomatoes, or garlic and onion, do so only after you’ve tried it just-as first.
There are some other tricks too which I resort to to get my low fat dish to gain some of the advantages of a stir fry made with much more oil. It is easy to cook fresh seasonal vegetables in their own steam using very little oil; to get them to brown well takes a few tricks. The cooking process, as it finally stands, has shaped over some length of time.
If you want to brown cauliflower, or any other vegetable, using less oil, you need to stir often to prevent it sticking to the bottom. Also because I like my cauliflower al dente, and not crunchy - yes, I’m very Indian here, usually cooking my vegetables to soft (but short of death), it becomes even more difficult to handle it without it disintegrating into an awful messy unappetising gloop.
Here’s what to do: once the dish is nearly done and you have added the garam masala and given it all a final stir, let it cook another five minutes or so, till you can smell it caramalizing – the browned parts are now sticking to the pot. Take the pan off heat, but do not stir. Let it rest for a few minutes, then shake the pan to toss and mix. Umm, there’s the lovely browned pieces of cauliflower and potatoes, and no mush.
Punjabi gobhi aloo, a bowl of yoghurt, salad (similar to this, but without the tadka), bharleli mirchi (stuffed chilli), and roti
Sookhi Gobhi Aloo
(Cauliflower with Potatoes)
1 medium-large cauliflower (about 800 gm or 1.5 lbs), cut into 1″ size florets
2 medium-large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-3/4″ dice
1 t cumin seeds
1/4 t mild hing (asafoetida)
3/4″ knob of ginger, grated
1/2 t turmeric
1 1/2 t coriander powder
3/4 t red chilli powder
1/3 t garam masala
1 1/2 T oil (peanut or mustard)
Heat oil in a karahi. Add cumin followed by hing and grated ginger, and stir till fragrant. Add turmeric, coriander, and red chilli powders and stir. Lower heat and add the prepared cauliflower and potatoes. Add salt and stir to mix. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or to desired tenderness, stirring once in between. Sprinkle with garam masala, and stir. Cover and cook another 5 minutes till the vegetables are lightly browned. They may stick to the bottom of the pan if you have used the specified amount of oil. That is alright – just don’t stir at the moment. Take off the fire, and let rest covered. Toss to mix after a few minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped coriander and serve with a bowl of plain yoghurt with roti.
If you want to scale up the recipe, take care when stirring, especially if you like the cauliflower to be cooked through (but firm) and the potatoes very soft. When making in large quantities, I toss instead of stirring. It should be shaken, not stirred .
(I promise to post more flattering day time pictures soon…)