More than 20 years ago, I was introduced to Indian food at a small restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I fell in love! I have sought out this cuisine ever since. From time to time, I have attempted preparing my own curry dishes at home, but without great success. The food would taste "good" but not authentic. Then I would become discouraged and decide to leave it in the hands of the experts.
This cuisine is no "30 Minute Meals" and you cannot add a can of chicken stock to mimic "cooked all day" flavor. Much care is taken with these curries, toasting spices and building layers of flavor. And that is what was discouraging. After spending several hours in the kitchen, the dish didn't taste right and I didn't know what to do to correct it.
Several months ago, I developed a friendship with a fellow blogger, Grapefruit, who has much more experience with cooking curries than I do. She has guided me, answered questions for me, and most importantly, encouraged me. After many discussions with her I began realizing part of my trouble was my shyness and lack of confidence with the cuisine.
Grapefruit and I decided to start a blog project. We are going to post a different curry on the first Friday of each month. We are calling the project, Curry-Palooza, and hope other bloggers interested in these delicious dishes will join us. I chose the first recipe and Grapefruit will choose the next. As others join us, they will choose the recipes in the order they join. If you want to cook along with us, and I hope you do, contact Grapefruit at Needful Things, or me.
My Aloo Gobi turned out great. I had fun cooking it and my husband and I both loved eating it.
Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)
(from the book, Flavors of India by Madhur Jaffrey)
1 large cauliflower
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled
8 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very fine slices, the into very fine slivers
2 medium tomatoes, grated or very finely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds
Break the cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Cut the potatoes into halves and then cut each half lengthways into roughly 3 pieces to get chunky chips.
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry them until they are medium-brown and just barely cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Put the florets into the same oil and fry until golden and just barely cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Remove all but 3 Tbsp. of the oil from the wok. Put in the onions and stir until they are light brown. Put in the ginger and continue to stir and fry until the onions are medium-brown. Add the tomatoes and keep frying until they turn soft and darker and the oil seems to separate from the sauce. Add the cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander and salt. Stir and fry for a minute. Put in the potatoes and florets. Stir to mix gently. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the vegetables. Cover. Turn the heat to low and cook gently for 3 - 5 minutes. Uncover. Add the garam masala and ground roasted cumin seeds. Stir gently to mix and turn off heat.
Serve with chapati, parathas, or naan and a yoghurt relish (raita).