I hope many of you were able to obtain the spices necessary for Indian cooking. Before we get into cooking today's delicious recipe, I thought I would share a few cooking tips to make cooking Indian food a bit easier. Some of these tips come straight from an Indian auntie's kitchen and have been passed down through the generations, others are mine that I've picked up along the way.
When trying to cook from an Indian recipe (whether you've obtained it through a cookbook or the internet), double all spices EXCEPT the chiles or chile powder. When I first started cooking Indian food, I found the food bland and did not contain enough flavor as the Indian food I had eaten from friends/family or from restaurants. I realized that to make it just as flavorful, I had to double the spices. I'm pretty sure this due to the large vegetables (and larger portions) we have in the U.S., which is why you need to put more spices into the recipes.
So my first cooking tip is: double (or nearly double) all spices called for in the recipes EXCEPT the chile/chile powder spice. Don't double the chile powder unless you really like hot food - it make take some time to tell. One thing to remember: I have already accounted for doubling the spices in my recipes. So do not double spices in my recipes - only from those you may see on the internet or in cookbooks!
My second tip is regarding ginger. Many of you may not be used to buying fresh ginger and not that familiar cooking it. Ginger is grated or pulsed when used in Indian recipes. First, the brown skin of the ginger should be taken off. It is much easier to remove the skin with a spoon then a knife (and safer!). After you have removed the skin off the ginger, use the very fine setting on your cheese grater to grate the ginger into a paste. You can also use a food processor or blender, but it's often not worth dirtying those dishes for just a tablespoon of ginger. Alternatively, and the method I prefer, is that you can buy ginger paste pre-made. Unfortunately you will most likely need to go to a specialty food store (like an Indian Grocery store) in order to purchase ginger paste. I really like the Laxmi Brand of Ginger Paste.
Today's recipe, Aloo Gobi, is a classic Indian recipe that you'll see at many Indian restaurants. It is also incredibly easy and delicious. Its a great recipe for first time Indian cooks!
Aloo Gobi (Potato Cauliflower)
2-3 tbls vegetable oil
1 large chopped onion
1 medium-sized cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 tomatoes chopped or 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tbls fresh ginger
1 tbls garlic
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tbls mustard seed
2 tbls turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 teaspoons garam masala
1-2 small green chiles if you have them, otherwise small pinch of chili powder
a handful of fresh cilantro
1. Peel and chop potatoes and put into small pot of boiling water. Boil for about 8-10 minutes or until slightly soft (not mushy or cooked all the way through). Drain and set aside.
2. Peel and grate ginger. Chop Garlic. Mix together Ginger and Garlic and mustard seed in a bowl.
3. Heat vegetable oil in a LARGE saucepan. When the oil is hot add in ginger, garlic, mustard seed mix. (Be careful as this can sometimes splutter). Stir for 30 seconds to one minute.
5. Add in turmeric, salt, and green chiles or red chile powder. Stir for about 30 seconds.
6. Add in chopped tomatoes and stir for 3-4 minutes until tomatoes are well cooked.
7. Add the chopped cauliflower and potatoes and 1/4 cup water. Stir well.
(here in this picture, I had been in a rush and added the spices a little later - you can do that, but the flavors do not come in as well)
9. When potatoes and cauliflower are soft and cooked through, add in the Garam Masala. Continue stiring frequently.
10. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and stir well.