I've been taking baby steps into Indian cooking, focusing especially on the all-vegetarian meals. Even though I'm a happy meat-eater, these dishes really do something for me. They don't taste like they're missing anything. Basically I'm at the point where I need a good beginners' guide to Indian cooking. I realize the subject is perhaps a little too vast. But I'm approaching the jumping-off point.
I'm past the bulk curry powder and am getting into toasting spices and combing them myself. Mahanandi is a good place to start. The site doesn't try to dumb down the process, and while recipes there might look like they have a lot of ingredients, most of them are familiar vegetables and spices I also have on hand. In adapting this cauliflower recipe, I had to cut a few things out, but it certainly didn't taste like anything was missing. This simple recipe was so delicately spiced and delicious I've been thinking of it ever since I made it.
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is the co-founder of The Paupered Chef and spends most of his time playing with the new cooking gadgets he got from his wedding.
Dinner Tonight: Cauliflower-Potato Curry (Aloo Gobhi)
- For the masala:
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of cloves
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- handful of cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the aloo gobhi:
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cauliflower, stems removed and florets separated
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 6 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 handfuls frozen peas
Add the masala ingredients to a blender. Pour in half a cup of water. Puree the ingredients until smooth.
Pour 1 tablespoon of the canola oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, and garlic. Cook for about 1 minutes, or until very fragrant. Then add the onion and cook until very soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes. Cover the skillet and cook for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft. Then add the potatoes and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, or until the potato is soft.
Pour in the masala mixture, 1/2 cup of water, and the cauliflower. Stir to combine, reduce the heat to medium low, and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Then dump in the peas and cilantro, let cook for a minute more, and then serve.