This is my earliest memory of making curry. 1981, the London Sivananda Yoga Ashram, my home at the time, is hosting a distinguished group of Indian scholars for a week of lectures on Vedanta philosophy. Declaring European fare as “bland” our guests have brought their own cook who is promptly dispatched to the kitchen.
A Brahmin, the highest of the Hindu casts, Rita handles food exclusively with her right hand, her left dedicated to supporting a long, shimmering fold of silken sari. She requests assistance. My luck is in.
Fetching, carrying, chopping and washing-up while Rita pours forth precious pearls of wisdom, I suggest taking notes. Raising a (right) hand in a detaining gesture she stops me: “In India, Mahadev” (that’s my yogi name) “we smell our food. Use your nose, and you’ll never forget.”
I can remember every detail of that first aloo gobi, a dish of perfect simplicity made into art by a final flourish of garam masala, a spice-blend incorporating some the world’s most sensuous and expensive spices.
Check out our masala recipe and unleash your nose for your best ever garam – it’s the spark in the machine.
Aloo Gobi: North Indian Spiced Potato and Cauliflower
- 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil, ghee, or a mixture of the two
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 2 bay-leaves
- 2 fresh green chillies (with or without seeds - it's up to you finely chopped
- 2 fresh tomatoes with or without skin - it's up to you) roughly chopped
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1/2 a cauliflower plus some of the paler, tender inner leaves cut into small florets / leaves roughly chopped
- 1 handful of fresh or frozen peas (optional)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric root
- 1 tsp dried mango powder (amchoor) OR
- the juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp garam masala freshly ground
- fresh coriander leaves roughly chopped
- For best results lightly brown the cauliflower florets and chopped leaves in batches and set aside. Skip this step if you want to reduce the quantity of fat used
- Add the cumin seeds to the remaining oil and fry until it just changes colour
- Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes, adding a splash of water as needed to stop them burning
- Add the ginger-garlic paste, chillies and bay and fry for a few seconds
- Add the potatoes and sautée for a few minutes stirring to stop them sticking
- Add the tomatoes, softern for a few minutes, then add the cauliflower florets, turmeric and mango powder. If you're using lemon instead, add it at the very end
- Mix well, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked to your taste. Add the odd splash water as needed to prevent sticking or burning
- 5 minutes before the end of cooking add the peas if you're using them
- Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice (if you haven't already used mango powder) and garam masala and mix in
- Garnish with chopped fresh coriander
- Serve with rotis or other flat breads