This is a classic veg curry and so simple to make. Very few spices for a curry, so you don’t need a huge stock of spices on hand. The key is balancing the seasoning and cooking time to make the most of the spice taste and the vegetables.
3 medium potatoes
1/2 a Cauliflower
1/2 medium onion, minced
4 medium sized tomatoes, segmented (or a 400gm can of diced tomatoes)
2cm ginger, grated
1 tsp garlic, minced
Small bunch of fresh coriander
1 fresh Cayenne chilli (optional)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder (or smoked paprika, if you prefer it milder)
1 tsp turmeric
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
4 tbs oil for cooking
Start by cutting your potatoes and cauliflower. I like to cut my potatoes on sharp angles, rather than uniform cubes. What you want to get a large surface area on the potato, but make sure they’re about 1/2 the size of your cauliflower florets – the reason being that your cauli will cook faster than your potatoes, so keep the potatoes smaller than your cauli. This way, they’ll cook together – you can always add them in to the curry at different times, but this influences the taste of the curry, as the flavours don’t have time to mature and meld together.
Fry your potatoes and cauli in 2 tbs of oil over a high heat. Get them fully covered and try to seal your potatoes. You’ll notice I don’t peel my potatoes. The peel has so much fibre and goodness (including flavour!) that I like to keep it on, but feel free to peel if you want a more finished look.
Try to fry the potatoes till they have this sort of effect where the edges are slightly cooked, but still uncooked in the centre. This will help to keep the middle of the potatoes soft and fluffy, but mean they don’t disintegrate to mush when you cook them in water (never a great look!)
Take your potatoes and cauli out after a few mins of frying and set aside. Reduce the heat to a medium/low temperature and put in your remaining 2 tbs of oil (or, if you want a richer taste, 2 tbs of butter, like I’ve done) and throw in the cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves. Fry for about 30 secs – frying your whole spices enriches their flavour significantly – it makes them far more effective in spreading their flavour throughout the rest of the dish.
Throw in your minced onion, garlic, and ginger and fry over the gentle heat till the onions go translucent.
Time for your ground spices. This will add colour as well as flavour. If you don’t want as strong a flavour, just reduce the spices proportionately. Some have noticed I hardly ever add salt to my food – this is primarily for health reasons, but for this dish, you need some extra salt – potatoes and cauli aren’t the most exciting of flavours, so a little salt won’t kill you and it makes the world of difference.
Fry your onions and spices till you get this rich spice mix – add some oil if it gets too dry – you don’t want the spices to burn, as they’ll go bitter. This is the base for the rest of the dish – it’s the flavour maker – if this base is good, the rest of the curry will be great. If you taste this, it’s really strong – that’s the point, it has to cut through the rest of the ingredients.
Put your par cooked potatoes and cauli into the spice mix and coat as much as you can. This is also the time to put in your chilli, if you want. Slice it lengthways and remove the seed & pith to get the flavour but without too much heat.
Once coated, put in you tomatoes and a few stalks of fresh coriander – my wife hates coriander, so I had to sneak some in – it adds a lovely fresh taste, in my mind, but omit it if you don’t like the taste.
Pour in 1 cup of water (yeah, I have a Pooh mug, what of it?!) and your bay leaves. If you like your curry drier, then put in less water, but don’t put in less than 1/2 cup, otherwise it’ll burn. You need a little water to cook the veges through. Mix all the ingredients together and get every bit of the florets yellow with flavour.
Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins.
Uncover and allow to gently simmer till the sauce is the thickness you like – I like to reduce it down for another 10 mins.
It was a lovely evening, so it’s dinner outside! Serve with basmati rice or chapati and some plain yoghurt. Throw a chilli on the side if you want to feel a bit more heat.
Indian food seems to lack pretentiousness, which is great, in my mind – but some people have been asking about alternative means of presenting dishes. So, if you want to do some pretentious serving, this works pretty well – pack your rice and aloo gobi into a small glass and put a plate on top. Flip both plate and cup over and slowly remove the glass slowly.
I personally don’t think it’s necessary, but the kids like it and tend to eat it up with far less fuss when they can bash down a tower of curry!