Alu Gobi is the ubiquitous vegetarian dish of Potatoes and Cauliflower you will find in India everywhere. Literally everywhere from road side Dhabas to high-end restaurants catering to international clientele. It is made from affordable everyday ingredients, but still shines as the epitome of Indian cuisine—which is predominantly vegetarian, affordable, freshly made and multi-flavored.
I have fond memories of Alu Gobi from college days. Occasionally a bunch of us would skip classes for movies, and on the way grab a bite at the Dhaba. Loosely speaking Dhabas are off-the-highway eateries in India. They are very simple. Usually a shack with a kitchen and some tables and chairs under a shady tree or a straw thatch. I never had an opinion on what movie we should watch, as I did not much care about them then (and now). But I was an active participant in deciding where to eat. That was my agenda in the game anyway. Inevitably Alu Gobi was always on the order. Somehow it always tasted so much better at the Dhaba than at fine restaurants. Maybe it’s the simplicity, or the excitement of spending the rest of the day care-free with friends. I cannot quite put my finger on it. Neither could I replicate the euphoria I used to have when eating this. But the recipe I have here takes me the closest to those days.
Although I make this frequently for my family as well as for entertaining, it was different this time because of an extra ingredient–Pomegranate seeds powder, that took this dish to a whole new level. May I say, to the Dhaba level 😉 If you have ever eaten at a Dhaba in India, it will surely transport you back. If you didn’t, well this will take you there now. Give it a try.
What you need (Serves 6):
4 cups of bite-sized Cauliflower florets
2 medium sized Potatoes cubed to bite-size
1 medium Onion
2 medium tomatoes
2 Green chillies, slit
1/2 inch Cinnamon
1/2 inch piece of Ginger
2 Garlic cloves
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder (or more if desired)
1/2 tsp Pomegranate powder (available in Indian stores) or 1 tbsp of Lemon juice
2-3 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garnish
How to make it:
- Cut the Onion into quarters and pulse in the food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop it (almost to a mince)
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add them to the processor and pulse a few more times along with the onions. You will have the onion-tomato mix at the consistency shown in the picture.
- Heat oil in a wide and shallow pan on medium heat
- Add the slit Green Chillies and Onion-Tomato mix to the pan and saute until soft
- Crush the Ginger and Garlic along with Cloves, Cinnamon and Cardamom in a mortar and pestle. You can leave the Cardamom skin on, it adds more flavor as it cooks
- Add Ginger-Garlic paste, Turmeric, Salt and Red Chilli powder to the pan and continue sauteing
- Add Potato cubes and cook covered for 3-4 minutes until they are just about done.
- Add Cauliflower florets and cook covered for another 3-4 minutes. Cauliflower cooks much faster than potatoes. So adding them later will ensure that they are just cooked like potatoes and still retain their shape.
- Add the Pomegranate powder. If using Lemon juice add it after the heat is turned off.
- Check and adjust seasonings as desired
- Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with Naan or Rotis or lightly seasoned rice.
Note: This is a ‘sukha-subzi’, meaning dry-curry. Hence no water/liquid is added. But if you prefer, you may add a couple of tablespoons of water to soften the vegetables. It will not take anything away from the taste.