Saturday, April 14, 2018

Recipe of the Month: Aloo Gobi

Apologies for skipping my regular blog entry last week. It was a pretty busy weekend, with lots of activities (mostly gaming-related), and I discovered on Sunday that the post I was planning to do—a Recipe of the Month based on sweet potato noodles—was basically the same thing I'd posted as my Recipe of the Month last April. So I decided to just put up a post about my new Money Crashers article and let it go at that.

But now, I have an actual, legitimate Recipe of the Month to post. Last week, on a trip to the H-Mart, we decided on a whim to pick up some cauliflower that was selling cheap—even though we had no specific idea what to do with it. As the week progressed, Brian realized he'd have to come up with some way to use it, so he dug out a cookbook we seldom use called Heart Smart Flavours of India and turned to the recipe it calls "Aaloo Gobi," or cauliflower and potatoes (which is more commonly spelled as "aloo gobi," with just one "a"). We actually had nearly everything that it called for on hand, including a complex spice blend called Sabzi Masala, which Brian had mixed up over a year ago for another recipe and hadn't used since. (It also called for a much simpler blend called Dhania-jeera Masala, but since that contains nothing but cumin and coriander, it was easy to mix up on the spot.)

Anyway, as we were eating it, Brian noted that he'd actually never made this particular dish before. He'd made the "Aaloo Mattar" (potatoes and peas) on the facing page, but since we're not normally in the habit of buying cauliflower, this was the first time he'd done the aloo gobi. So, since this was definitely a vegetable-based recipe—in fact, containing pretty much nothing but vegetables and various seasonings—I decided it would do just fine as a Recipe of the Month.

There are many versions of aloo gobi, and the only ingredients all of them have in common are the potatoes and cauliflower. This version also called for onions, tomatoes, green chilis (which we didn't have, so Brian substituted a bit of diced bell pepper and a touch of cayenne), garlic, ginger, turmeric, the Dhania-jeera Masala and Sabzi Masala spice blends, salt, and chopped scallions for garnish. It made a very colorful dish, bright yellow from the turmeric with touches of red from the tomatoes and peppers. It was quite flavorful, too, with all those spices going on. And since we had the complicated spice blend prepared ahead of time, it wasn't all that hard to make.

Its only weakness was that, with nothing much in it but veggies, it wasn't all that filling. The recipe suggested serving it with a bread of some kind, either parathas or chapatis, and adding that probably would have made a much heartier meal—but it would also have taken a lot more time to cook, and we figured that with the potatoes in there, it should have enough starch by itself. However, with only two potatoes to a whole head of cauliflower, it actually wasn't that substantial. So if we make it again, we'll probably either do it on a night when we have time to make bread also or simply serve it over rice.

But will we make it again? Well, I guess it depends. Cauliflower isn't a veggie that we grow, and it's not one we're normally in the habit of buying—but that's mainly because (1) it's a little pricey, especially when out of season, and (2) by itself, it's not very interesting. However, when combined with potato, tomato, and lots of different Indian spices, it's very interesting. And the dish also has the advantage of being both vegan and gluten-free, which means it's something we can serve to pretty much anyone who ever comes over to dinner.

So I'm thinking this dish isn't something we'll make all that often, but it will be handy to keep on hand, sort of in our back pocket. That way, any time we spot a great deal on cauliflower again, we'll know of something to do with it aside from just blending it up in macaroni and cheese. And, should we ever need to feed some vegan and/or gluten-free friends, we'll have one more dish on our list that will work for them.

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