Spices can be a real life saver when you are stumped by what to cook midweek. I keep a basic selection handy in my kitchen and turn to them often for meal inspiration. Thanks to the aromatic spices, this Indian-style potato and cauliflower dish is one of those unbelievably easy yet satisfyingly delicious recipes that everyone should have in their canon of go-to recipes.
A Punjabi classic, it goes by the name “aloo gobi,” which simply means potato and cauliflower. These two humble vegetables, so pocket-friendly and accessible throughout the year, are cooked with a combination of spices and served over basmati rice or with Indian bread.
You’re likely to find slight variations of the recipe out there as it can differ from one region to another in the vast country of India, which really is a testament to its versatility. Having said that, it can easily be made with spices that you’re likely to already have on hand or are easy to acquire, such as garlic, ginger, onion, cumin seeds, ground turmeric, and garam masala.
Some recipes call for the potatoes and cauliflower to be pre-cooked either by blanching or frying them. The reason for that is to ensure they are both cooked evenly. I prefer to prepare aloo gobi all in the same pan in the convenient order of first frying the spices in oil to release their aromas, followed by the browning of the vegetables, and finally simmering the mixture with water for the flavors to incorporate. Cutting the cauliflower into slightly bigger pieces than the potatoes will help ensure the two vegetables cook evenly.
Garam masala is sprinkled at the end as a final flavoring just before serving. “Masala” generally means spice mixture in India and garam masala is probably the best-known mixture commonly used in north Indian cooking. Garam is derived from the Persian word “garm” that carries the meaning of warming, which is why you might find spices that are considered “hot” in the mixture like black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.
Unlike the curries we’re probably used to, aloo gobi is a fairly dry and thick dish with big, bold flavors that make it a nice accompaniment to warm, fluffy rice.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion coarsely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger peeled and minced
- 1 green chili jalapeño or serrano, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 pounds 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound 1 medium cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups water
- 1 large tomato cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 4 cups cooked basmati rice
- In a large saucepan, heat up the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and stir-fry until soft and translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add the ginger, chili, and cumin seeds, and stir-fry for another 1 minute.
- Add the potatoes and cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4-5 minutes. Add the sea salt, ground turmeric, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir to mix all the ingredients well. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and cauliflower are fork tender and the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. You may need to add more water if it gets too dry, but this dish is meant to be thick.
- Add the tomato and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in the garam masala and chopped cilantro and toss to mix.
- Serve immediately with the cooked basmati rice.