In 2005 David and I travelled in India. We rode camels and slept in a tent (5 Star! yes there is) in the desert at the Pushkar Camel Fair. We travelled in a terrifyingly old and grumpy bus from New Delhi through the Rajasthan desert. We saw the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Amber Fort in Jaipur. We bargained for jewellery and textiles and soaked up the marvels of the markets with all their color. We ached for the poverty and living conditions of far too many and were inspired by the ability to smile despite. We stayed for one night in the beautiful luxury of an old maharajah's palace at the top of a mountain. And every single meal for ten days we ate curry. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
At the time we were living in Tokyo and had discovered the very excellent Indian cuisine that is to be had there. The trip to India was much anticipated for many reasons, not least being the food. Nevertheless - and although the food was amazing - we were happy to leave curries off the menu for a time when we returned. Now we love the smells and tastes of the food we enjoyed so much.
The other night I when I made aloo gobi I thought of Merin. It was a bit of a joke between us - how she obsessed over it. It really is worth at least a little tiny obsession. You could serve it as a side but I think it makes a perfect main for a meatless meal.
This recipe calls for garam masala - a spice blend that is varied and local and very personal to each cook. Commercial blends are available but often not easy to source - at least not around here. I made my own lazy-cook version, skipping the mortar and pestle portion (partly because of time and partly because I didn't have the whole spices on hand anyway and really wanted to eat aloo gobi now!) and it was a very good cheat. Use your own or a commercial blend or try my easy blend. So good!!! This smells amazing and the taste lives up to that advertisement.
aloo gobi with chickpeas
(from Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan with a few minor adaptions)
coconut oil and olive oil for cooking
1 medium head cauliflower, separated into florets
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala*
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 small sweet potato, diced
6 baby potatoes, quartered
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 19 oz can drained and rinsed)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat the pieces. Roast for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and turning golden on the bottom and edges.
Meanwhile, heat a tbsp or so of coconut oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Cook for a minute , then add the tomatoes, sweet potato, potatoes, and chickpeas. Stir to combine everything well and then pour 1 cup water over and cover with a lid. reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the potatoes are tender - about 10 minutes.
Add the roasted cauliflower to the pan and stir to combine everything. Add a little water if it seems too dry and season to taste with salt (if needed).
*'my' garam masala
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp medium curry powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon