The Secret Ingredient (Turmeric): Gobi Gobi Recipe

The Secret Ingredient

Every month we highlight a different ingredient and share weekly recipes that showcase its uses.

The Secret Ingredient (Turmeric): Gobi Gobi Recipe

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

I am an enthusiastic frequenter of Indian restaurants, and I never leave without having Aloo Gobi—potatoes and cauliflower, cooking with coriander, cumin seeds, a bit of chili, and of course, turmeric, which gives it that golden kiss and earthen flavor.

I often find dishes based heavily in spices to be heavy; they can lack that fresh lightness of just-snipped herbs and fresh drizzles of raw olive oil because the spices are seared and baked and braised forcibly into the food. This is my effort to freshen and enliven aloo gobi. I lose the potatoes (which is why I call this gobi gobi) and double the cauliflower, then toss in the fresh flavors of soft cauliflower florets, a whole chili, hot fresh garlic and ginger, and piles of fresh cilantro. Lightly toasted smoky cumin seeds nestle themselves into the cauliflower buds and add a short, bright crunch, and the turmeric is a light golden bronzer that flushes the outside of the pale cauliflower with a marigold tan and adds a bit of earthen depth. A flash of butter finishes it off--because what's better than cauliflower with butter? It's bright and light, but different and interesting and unexpected, especially if served in a non-Indian context, like along side seared fish or roast chicken.

  • Yield:serves 2 to 4
  • Active time: 8 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh garlic
  • 1 green chili, split down the middle, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 small heads of cauliflower, split into florets
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. 1.

    Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the turmeric, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and chili. Sauté just until fragrant—about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower and season with salt. Add 2/3 cup of water, and cover. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.

  2. 2.

    Take off the lid of the pot, and allow any remaining water to evaporate over high heat, and then allow the cauliflower to take on an ever-so-slight golden tinge by searing in the dry pan for just 5 to 7 more minutes. Toss with the butter and cilantro, and serve.