This recipe was included in the Gourmet Live Round Up:Stews and Cassoulets!
This recipe was born out of a memory from my childhood – a trip taken long time back with my parents. It was winter time. The town was small, neither plush nor remote – near the ruins of a Japanese Temple; it’s the historical town of Rajgir in India, home to a few archaeolgical sites related to Buddhism and Jainism.
Rajgir at that time, had only a few hotels and a few places to eat. We opted out of eating in those restaurants; instead I remember my parents requesting a road side tea seller if he could include us when they cook their family dinner. He was overjoyed and he readily agreed. Overjoyed not just for the extra money he would make, but also overwhelmed that we asked him! Well, every evening they took lot of care to cook a homey comfortable meal for us. I do not remember all that we ate, but a light soupy cauliflower potato curry stuck to me through all these years – the steaming hot light curry and fresh made puffed rotis seemed like the best meal we ever had.
I know what I made today tastes nothing like that time so long ago. But yesterday it was cold and all of a sudden I remembered the trip and the wonderful time we had. This is not the traditional Aloo Gobi that the world is familiar with. Authentic Aloo Gobi is not soupy neither does it have peanuts. But as I have said before, the combination of cauliflowers and potatoes are made into infinite combination and kinds, and this happens to be my kind for this evening.
The spices can be substituted with what ever kind you like. Garam Masala or store bought curry powder may be used to for a different flavor and use herbs if you want. Use of peanuts is very unusual in a dish like this, but they did add a lovely crunch and texture to the dish, and of course make it a lot more wholesome.
Curried Potato and Cauliflower Stew with Toasted Peanuts
- 1 medium cauliflower, divide the florets into medium pieces
- 4-5 medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and diced into 6 pieces each
- 1 medium onion, chopped into small pieces
- 4-5 tablespoons oil/butter
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- crushed red pepper
- 2 small green cardamom
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1.5 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- smoked paprika or red chili powder or cayenne – to taste
- 3/4 cup water + 3 – 4 cups water/stock
- 1/2 cup peanuts, skinned and lightly toasted and roughly crushed
(To toast the peanuts: Heat a skillet and toss the peanuts in the skillet on medium heat, till you see brown spots on them. Switch off the heat and cool the peanuts completely. If they have skin, rub off the nuts between kitchen towels. Crush them with a rolling pin (I usually place them in a ziploc and use a rolling pin).
Wash the cauliflower florets and pat dry.
In a bowl combine tomato paste, 3/4 cup water, coriander powder, grated ginger, garlic paste, turmeric, paprika/cayenne/red chili powder and salt.
Heat oil/butter in a big wok/pot. Add the split green cardamom, cinnamon sticks and cloves. When they sizzle and are fragrant add the cumin seeds. Once the seeds start to sizzle add the chopped onions and crushed red pepper and fry at high heat until the onions start to brown. Tip in the the tomato paste mixture in the pan and cook at medium heat for about 10-12 minutes or until the water dries off and the paste starts to release the oil.
Add the diced potatoes in the pan, increase the heat to high and quickly toss around the diced potatoes so that tomato spice paste coats the potatoes. Cook at high heat for about 5 minutes while tossing frequently. Add the cauliflower florets and gently toss everything together for the spice mix to combine. Lower the heat and cook for about 10-12 minutes, partially covered until the potatoes and cauliflower are partially done. Pour in 3-4 cups of warm water/stock and cook at medium heat, uncovered till the vegetables are cooked. If the water dries off too much, add some more warm water. The consistency should be soupy.
Right before serving, sprinkle the crushed toasted peanuts and gently stir them in.
Serve with crusty bread, flat breads or over basmati rice.
It was a heartwarming dish, full of nutrition and memories; a warm comfort food.