Unusual is Good: Aloo-Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)

finishedSo WordPress tells me that it has been 6 months since I last published a post, and frankly that’s quite pathetic. Blogging lately, along with becoming fluent in French and working out more is something that I keep saying I want to do but can never fully commit to. Sure, I’ve been busy; I moved to the East Coast in August to start grad school, and it can be hard to both slay the role of an aspiring scientist and maintain an on point food and travel game, but I have had time to write here and there. I literally took these photos almost four months ago, but for some reason, it has been a struggle to bring myself on here and write about them. Why have I become such a bad father to my first born?

This is not a comeback so much as it is a desperate need within me to keep the creative spiritspiced up alive. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but writing on here has been the easiest way for me to commit to a change. Let’s hope we can get more of that moving forward.

I have been told that my aajibaa (maternal grandmother) was a fantastic cook, and while there were many dishes she was known for, the one that my mother always seemed to make for us growing up was humble aloo gobi. It’s almost too simple in some ways. Potatoes and spicescauliflower, stained yellow from a good dose of earthy turmeric, are quickly stir-fried with some whole spices and then finished off with plenty of fresh ginger, green chilies, and cilantro. The tempering of the hot oil with cloves at the start is an addition that many would find unusual, but it was my grandmother’s unique touch. I don’t know why she chose to add them, but these cloves are now a family tradition, one that I shall proudly keep alive.

Recipe: Aloo Gobicover


  • 2-3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
  • pinch of asafoetida (hing), optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 5-6 whole cloves
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 green chili (jalapeno, serrano, Thai), diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced fine
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste


  1. In a large frying pan, skillet, or wok, heat the oil over high heat. Once hot, add the asafoetida, followed by the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and cloves and allow the spices to toast in the oil until highly aromatic, about 1 minute.
  2. Proceed to add the potatoes, stirring and pan-frying in the oil until softened and golden-brown, about 1o minutes.
  3. Add the ground turmeric and coriander, and stir for a minute to coat the potatoes.
  4. Now add the cauliflower florets and stir the entire mixture around, making sure that the vegetables and spices have incorporated well with each other. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 15 more minutes, undisturbed, till the cauliflower and potatoes are tender.
  5. Gently toss the vegetables with the ginger, green chilies, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt.

Cooking Notes

  • Aloo Gobi can be served as a main dish with some chapati or naan, or as a hearty accompaniment to some dal and rice.
  • The biggest mistake people make when cooking aloo gobi is to continuously stir it after the cauliflower has been added. This will only cause the florets to break up and your dish to subsequently reassemble a mushy mess. After you have incorporated the vegetables and spices together (you’ll know you’ve achieved this because the turmeric will stain them yellow), LET THEM BE.
  • You might also notice that no water is added here. Aloo Gobi is supposed to be a dry dish. Any water needed to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan is created through the condensation generated under the lid when the vegetables are covered. It’s that simple!
  • As I have mentioned before, the cloves are a unique touch as is the addition of ginger and green chilies at the end rather than before. I feel, as does my mother, that keeping these pungent ingredients rather raw adds a vibrant pop of flavor to an otherwise, tame dish of sauteed potatoes. It may not be something practiced by some of your other Indian friends and family members, but variation is what truly keeps family recipes genuine!





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