Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Benares-style Cauliflower and Potatoes

Last night I made a wonderful recipe from the 1000 classic indian recipes cookbook edited by Wendy Hobson. My mom gifted me this cookbook so that I could expand my Indian food repertoire. My mom does not own cookbooks. Everything she knows about cooking she learned from her mother, by observing and cooking with others, and experimenting. It's all stored in her head! But this cookbook spoke to her. I recall her saying "I understand this cookbook, so you should too!"

I chose this recipe because it included potatoes. I just adore potatoes in all forms because they provide such warmth and comfort. Potatoes have the wonderful ability to take on the flavor around it and this dish is no exception. This recipe turned out to be aromatic, so full of flavor, and mild (in the spice level) -- it is comfort food for the health conscious.

-3 tbsp water
-1 onion, halved and then quartered
-1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peel and chopped
-6 garlic cloves, chopped
-1 tbsp coriander seeds

All other ingredients
-3 tbsp oil
-1 tsp cumin seeds
-1 tsp carraway seeds
-1 tbsp garam masala
-1 tsp ground turmeric
-1 cauliflower, cut into florets
-2 large potatoes, cubed
-1 cup water

My modifications
-Substituted 1 tbsp coriander seeds with 2.5 tsp ground coriander
-Substituted 1 tsp cumin seeds with .5 tsp ground cumin
-Did not add carraway seeds
-Used 8 small golden creamer potatoes
-Used 2 tbsp oil rather than 3
-Added 1.5-1.75 cups of water

Use a blender to make the puree and set aside. Because the onions, ginger and garlic are going in the grinder, do not worry about how 'nicely' you chop them, coursely is just fine. Heat the oil on medium heat and sautee the cumin and carraway seeds for a minute or two, stirring continuously to prevent burning. Add the puree and sautee for 5 minutes, again stirring continuously. Add the garam masala and turmeric and stir for another minute or two. Add the cauliflower florets, potatoes, salt to taste, and water. Bring dish to a boil, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender, stirring periodically.

Note well: I found the veggies to be raw after 10 minutes. I simmered for 25 minutes and came out with perfect results. Serve with store bought naan or my personal favorite, corn tortillas. Also be patient and do take the time to cook the spices as the recipe indicates. Cooking the spices is what gives this dish its flavor and by undercooking you will miss out on it!

I think this dish is great for beginners. It will turn out even and smooth because of the puree. Some of the spices are in the puree or are added to it. In some Indian cooking, there is no puree base and the spices are added directly to the other ingredients which can sometimes lead to a dish that is unevenly coated or the dreaded 'raw' taste of spice.

Eat and enjoy!


Dustin J. Mitchell said...

Hey, what happened? We, your loyal readers, are starving for more news from the culinary corner!

Nirmala said...

What do you mean what happened? I had a post on May 18 and it's only the 21st today.

I have another post that will be dated the 5.19. I've finished the writing, I just need to upload the picture.

Caroline said...

I have this book and am going to make this exact dish today! Can't wait!