Cauliflower Bhaji With Or Without Potatoes/Peas (Dry Curry)
Alu Gobhi ki Sookhi Sabji
Note from Mamta: My mother cooked most vegetables, specially the 'dry' bhajies, without any onions and garlic. This is because garlic is still not widely eaten by vegetarians in many Indian families, partly because it is considered a 'Tamsic' food and partly because it drowns the flavour of the actual vegetables. This dish tastes very nice with addition of 1-2 potatoes or a small cup of peas or both. If you like the flavour of garlic and onions, feel free to add them. Serves 4-6
Edited May 2018
Approximately 500 grams of vegetables in total, as follows:
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets (as they absorb the spices better that way)
1 large or a couple of medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces or wedges (optional)
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 tablespoon mustard oil or an alternative vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (or Panch Pooran or black mustard seeds)
A small pinch of asafoetida
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, chopped into thin slices
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or grated (optional)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mango powder (amchoor) or a squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala powder
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, cleaned and chopped.
Heat the mustard oil in a wok or karahi.
Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida and wait until seeds splutter. Be careful not to let them burn.
Add ginger/garlic if using/green or red chillies. Stir-fry for 10-20 seconds or so, until lightly browned.
Add onions, if using, and fry until translucent.
Add cauliflower florets (and potatoes) and sprinkle turmeric, coriander, chilli powder and salt on top.
Stir-fry well for 30 seconds or so and then lower the heat to almost minimum. My mum doesn't always stir in the spices straight away; she waits until the vegetables settle down a little bit, as you can see in the pictures.
Cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, stirring from time to time. If the vegetables are fresh, no extra water needs to be added. Otherwise, sprinkle some water when it looks too dry, just enough to stop it from catching.
Sprinkle mango powder (or lemon juice), garam masala and two-third of the coriander leaves on top, stir and mix gently, taking care not to break cauliflower florets.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining chopped coriander leaves before serving.
Serve with Parathas or a dal of choice and Chapatties. Gobhi and paratha combination makes a great winter breakfast, as well as a suitable packed meal, be it for a work lunch, train journey or for a picnic, especially when kept in a hot 'tiffin box'.
If you prefer, you can omit potatoes altogether and make this dish with 500 gm. of cauliflower alone.
You can add 1 cup of peas too, if you are fond of them. Add fresh ones at the same time as the cauliflower or frozen ones when vegetable is half cooked. You will have to increase the spices accordingly.
Chopped tomatoes can also be added at half cooked stage.
When the cauliflowers are very fresh and young and when you buy them with a few of their green leaves still attached, you can chop these tender leaves and add them to the vegetable. Tender cauliflower leaves can be saved, chopped like green beans and made into a separate curry on their own, see Cauliflower Achari.