Thursday, September 19, 2013

Aloo Gobi

I eschew trends, fads, crazes, popularity and buzz. But as always, exceptions occur. Such is the case with this recipe. After watching the sensation movie "Bend It Like Beckham" on DVD there's a bonus track of the director making a traditional dish, Aloo Gobi with her aged auntie and mum. Very endearing. You can Google the recipe, but I'll put it here, not verbatim but as I now do it.

The dish is very very basic and there's nothing to fear where the words Indian and Curry come together. As a Weight Watchers participant, this became an almost weekly menu rotation. Its like the best Vegan recipe ever, not just low on Points+ but also cause I love flavor, spice and everything nice. Plus I get to add some Thai bird chilies to something. Nowadays, not as strict on WW as I was, I like to garnish this with a dollop of dairy, either Greek yogurt, Daisy sour cream, or just a plain ol slice of sharp cheddar cheese -very complimentary.  A little Sriracha never hurts either (which I have loved  for 35 years, long before the Internet, so no trend follower me)  I also on occasion add some cubed chicken breast for a dosage of animal protein, but it is certainly not missed when without.

  •  Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ~1/3 - 1/2 cup chopped cilantro stems (save some leafs for garnish)
  • optional: bit of fresh ginger 
  • fresh garlic to taste, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt2-3  Thai bird chilies, whole (so they heat can be plucked)
  • 1 average size head cauliflower broken into florets (Romanesca works too, as in photo)
  • 3 medium red, white, or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into about in 1/4" disks, halve larger slices
(NOTE: the two veggies need to be cut in equally cooking time parts, which can be somewhat difficult, and you have to know your produce. Fresh spuds are amazingly quicker cooking than ones that have been in storage for several months.  This takes some xperimenting, to get perfect) but try 3/8" slices of potatoes and break the cauliflower down to individual florets and slice up whatever stem is left same as potatoes.}
  • 1 28 oz (or 2 14.5 oz) can of diced or stewed tomatoes with juice or whole tomatoes crushed with hands, masher, blender or food processor, or what have you.
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 8-12 oz of chopped chicken breast
Heat oil in dutch with lid. Saute chopped onions & cumin seeds until turning translucent and soft.
Add to cilantro stalks, turmeric let the turmeric heat up a bit, then add chilies.
Add in ginger & garlic, mix

Now your ready for the main ingredients, the potatoes & the cauliflower, sprinkle with your favorite salt, and a few tablespoons of water or chicken stock at this time, but keep in mind that aloo gobi is supposed to be a dry dish, not a saucy one, watery aloo gobi is no no.

Cover and cook on low or medium low for about 20 min or until the veggies are starting to get tender. Stir and check frequently, I'm lucky the burners on my stove will almost melt chocolate chips on a paper plate, other stove tops will burn the crap out of water. You could put this pup in the over too and do it that way, I haven't though.

Then add tomatoes, (and chicken breast if using) the important reason for doing this, that I have found is the the citric acid in the canned tomatoes (varies by brand) PREVENTS the veggies from tenderizing. I've cooked this stuff or over an hour several times. But after reading Rhulman's book, last year The Making of a Chef (1997) I think I figured it out. Acid increases cooking time or keeps veggies firm, that's why its in the chopped tomatoes.  This is now a weekday meal. Maybe the 'tinned' tomatoes in Europe have less citric acid added, whole tomatoes also typically do not have as much if any citric acid added.

Then cover & simmer for a while longer, until veggies AND chicken (if using..) are done, hopefully synchronistically. When done stir in garam masala, turn off the heat and let rest until you can't stand it any more for flavor melding and juices assimilation. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and or other stuff mentioned..

Monday, September 09, 2013


If anyone ever reads this they should understand I'm not trying to reinvent or be definitive on anything, my recipe posts are just how I do them and how they have been handed down to me, and perhaps how I've incorporated my own personality and taste on them. In other words, please don't comment back with a know-it-all attitude like this guy:  
I'm plenty aware of the recipe context, and usually have Googled and read many other versions of what I do, and often try to hunt down a recipe origin. Its my hobby.

Here's my family's carbonarra recipe. Its not the original or the true Italian type, its just how we do it. Rachel Ray has a great recipe as does Food and Wine,  and if you use Google, you can find how it was originally made. My favorite pasta for this is the traditional bucatini or perciatelli; this recipe refers to fettucini. That's ok too. You want something that grips the creamy goodness. I'm not a huge fan of pepperon so I  just dice chunks of ham or bacon (cooked first, removed, re-added)  but its best if you use high quality nicely cured Italian pork product, like gunicale or pancetta (as opposed to bacon- fry remove re-add). Also, I personally like pecorino-romano better than parm. Use both or whatever. Tallegio or even mascarpone might work as a creamy cheesy subsitute, but I have not tried those. Peas and mushrooms would compliment this dish. Lots of calories here folks, it tends to be a special day dish.