SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - As a self-professed meat lover, it isn't often that I get thrilled by vegetarian dishes. But aloo gobi, a vegetarian potato and cauliflower Indian dish, is on my list of favourites.
Admittedly, I am guilty of stereotyping cauliflower as a wallflower compared with vegetable superstars like kale.
But in the company of spices like kasuri methi (dried fenugreek) and coriander seeds, cauliflower takes on a life of its own.
Aloo (potato in Hindi) and gobi (cauliflower, also spelt gobhi), combine to make a perfect canvas for the spices to exhibit their flavour and colour.
There are many versions of aloo gobi. The spice mix used varies with the chef or cook.
A recent version I ate at a coffee shop contained black mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and kasuri methi, lending their distinct aromas to the dish.
The combination is also texturally exciting - the tenderness of the potato and cauliflower is beautifully accented with crunchy bits of aromatic spices.
If you don't want to use ghee, you can use vegetable oil.
Aloo gobi (North Indian dish of potato and cauliflower)
3 Tbs ghee
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
3 red onions (400g), chopped
50g ginger, ground into a paste
12 garlic cloves (60g), ground into a paste
3 tomatoes (450g), diced
580g potatoes, cubed 3cm by 3cm
600g cauliflower, cut into florets 3cm by 4cm
16 curry leaves
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
2½ tsp salt
2 tsp kasuri methi
10g fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1. Heat the ghee in frying pan over medium heat.
2. Add in the fennel, cumin, coriander and black mustard seeds. Be warned that the mustard seeds will pop. Fry for 30 seconds and once they start crackling, add the onion. Lower the heat to medium-low.
3. Fry the onion for 10 minutes until it is soft and translucent (below).
4. Add the ginger and garlic, and fry for three minutes.
5. Add the diced tomatoes and fry for two minutes.
6. Add the potatoes and fry for five minutes.
7. Add the cauliflower and fry for a minute.
8. Add the curry leaves, garam masala, coriander powder, ground turmeric, chilli powder and stir-fry for two minutes (below).
9. Add the water. The water should not cover the potatoes or cauliflower (below).
10. Simmer for 15 minutes, taking care to stir often to prevent the mixture from burning.
11. Season with salt to taste and fry for another minute.
12. Turn off the heat, add the kasuri methi and stir through.
13. Garnish with fresh coriander.
Yields six to eight servings.