One of the biggest challenges that I have faced as a person who likes to cook is the difficulty that comes with cooking food that is indigenous to cultures very different from my own, like really good homemade Chinese takeout, Vietnamese specialties or Indian favorites. There are a lot of ingredients and methods required to make the food taste truly authentic that I find just outside my wheelhouse. It certainly doesn’t stop me from trying!
Speaking of Indian favorites, one of my most ordered dishes when craving the deeply spiced, holistically oriented and homey flavors of good Indian cuisine is Aloo Gobi Masala. Essentially, the dish is a cauliflower and potato curry seasoned with turmeric, ginger and lots of cilantro. I served mine with jasmine rice and homemade naan bread, just the way I would order it from Diamond’s or Mehak. (Speaking of Mehak, have you had their goat curry? Seriously though.)
This totally satisfied my craving for my favorite Indian dish. I’ll leave it to the experts most of the time but I love challenging myself to learn more about the food ways of other cultures. The next time you’re craving food from another part of the world, try to make it at home! It just might give you a deeper appreciation for what it took to put that plate in front of you (or in that takeout box)!
Aloo Gobi Masala
Recipe adapted from Nick Kindelsperger via Serious Eats
For the Masala:
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red chile powder (I used hot Mexican chile powder)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Aloo Gobi:
- 1 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small to medium head of cauliflower, stems removed and cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- I carrot, peeled and diced
- 6 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see note)
- 2 handfuls frozen peas
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Note: To peel tomatoes easily, score the bottom of the tomatoes in the shape of an “X” Bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the tomatoes for about two minutes. Remove to a slotted spoon into an ice bath. The skin should peel away easily from where you scored the tomatoes.
To prepare the masala, combine all ingredients in the blender. Add 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
To prepare the curry, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin to the pan and allow to toast in the oil until fragrant, one minute. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened and turning golden, about eight minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir in, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. Add the potatoes and carrot and cook until soft, about ten minutes. Add the cauliflower, the masala and another 1/2 cup of water to the pan and stir to combine. Cover once again and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked.
Add the peas and cilantro and allow them to heat up in the sauce, one minute more. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice or even brown rice if you prefer. Garnish with a little extra chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Madur Jaffrey’s Naan Bread
Recipe via Food.com
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl and brushing
- 3/4 cup yogurt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the warm milk. Sprinkle over the yeast, stir, and allow it to bloom for about ten minutes.
Sift the flour, the remaining teaspoon of sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Add the oil, yogurt and egg. Mix on low with the paddle attachment until combined. Switch to the dough hook and knead for ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny and pulls away from the bowl. Move the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, one hour.
Preheat your oven as high as it will go. Mine goes to 550! When preheated, add a baking sheet, upside down, to the top rack.
Separate the dough into six equal portions. Roll each into a tight ball. Keep the portions covered with a dish towel while working with each one. Roll with a rolling pin into a long, thin oval. Slap each naan, one a a time, on the baking sheet and cook for three minutes. It will have puffed up significantly. Remove to a kitchen towel or foil packet to stay warm. Brush with more olive oil and sprinkle with a little extra salt. Wrap tightly while you repeat with the other five naan.