Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

December 14, 2010
By Holly Jennings

This is yet another great recipe from Entice with Spice, an Indian cookbook from Shubhra Ramineni. Aloo Gobiis one of the most popular vegetable dishes in Indian cuisine: If you’ve eaten at Indian restaurants, you’ve probably seen this yellow-tinged medley of potato and cauliflower on the menu or listed as one of the specials of the day. In this dish the vegetables are sautéed rather than cooked in a curry base, making it a perfect food to pick up with torn pieces of fresh Indian flatbread. Its dry consistency also makes it a practical travel or lunchbox food. In the introduction to her recipe, Ms. Ramineni mentions that her mother sometimes makes an “Indian burrito” with Aloo Gobi and Indian flatbreads for her father’s lunch. (No worries about a turmeric-laden curry sauce dribbling on and staining your best office clothes.) And because this subtly spiced dish is relatively mild¾it has a lovely tingle of chili heat¾it is a great choice when deciding what to serve to friends or family who are new to Indian cuisine. If you serve this with Ms. Ramineni’s recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala, you will have some converts on your hands.

When cooking this dish, I had one slight, easily remedied timing snafu. The instructions call for using either frozen or fresh cauliflower florets. I’ve made it with fresh cauliflower and with cauliflower from my garden that I had blanched and froze myself. I found that the frozen florets became tender before the potatoes were cooked through. To keep the cauliflower from becoming mushy, I fished out the potatoes and cooked them in the microwave until tender and then returned them to the pan. The dish turned out perfectly.

I think the discrepancy in timing lies in the difference between the methods of blanching, chilling and freezing used in a home kitchen versus the state-of-the-art process and equipment available to a commercial packager, which allow for the briefest possible blanching times and much faster chilling and flash freezing. Next time, if using my own “home”-frozen cauliflower again, I will simply add the potatoes first and let them cook a while before adding the cauliflower. Verdict: If you’re using cauliflower that you’ve frozen, keep an eye on the timing to make sure you get perfectly tender potatoes and cauliflower.

Also, if you’re not using a nonstick skillet, you will either  need to add a little more oil or more water—a sprinkling here and there—to keep the food from sticking to your skillet.

Serves 4

Prep time: 5 minutes (15 minutes if using fresh head of cauliflower)
Cook time: 30 minutes
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted cauliflower in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir periodically.

1 large head fresh cauliflower (about 2 lbs/1 kg) or 1 lb (500 g) frozen bite-size cauliflower florets

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 fully ripe tomato, cut into 4 pieces

1 medium russet potato (about ½ lb/250 g), peeled and cut into ¾-in (2-cm) cubes

2 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

1¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 handful fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) (about ¼ cup/10 g packed leaves), rinsed and chopped

If you’re using frozen cauliflower, do not defrost. If you’re using fresh cauliflower, cut the florets off the cauliflower head into large bite-size pieces and wash with cold water (see page 25 on how to cut cauliflower).

Pour the oil into a large nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the tomato. Cover the skillet. Cook until the tomato becomes soft and mashed, stirring every minute or so and lightly mashing the tomato, about 5 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, potato, ginger, cumin seeds, turmeric, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine until everything is stained yellow from the turmeric. Increase the heat to medium-high. Cook covered for 7 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Reduce the heat to medium. Remove the cover to avoid letting the cauliflower become mushy. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and you can easily insert a knife through the potato cubes, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. You may sprinkle some water in the skillet if you feel the cauliflower is drying up while the potatoes are cooking.

Turn off the heat. Let rest covered for 5 minutes on the warm stove. Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later! Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves on top.

(Recipe ingredients and instructions reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, www.tuttlepublishing.com. Recipe introduction was written by Holly Jennings.)


2 Comments to “Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes”


  1. Liz Wagner says:

    Since you have cooked the Chicken Tikka Masala, did you use only the 1/2 recipe of Chicken Kebabs? 1/2 pound chicken seems too little for 4 people.

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  2. I used the full amount of the kebabs and then doubled the CTM portion of the recipe. And having done that, I think the portioning in the book as is, using the half-recipe of kebabs, would be a bit skimpy for four hungry Americans–unless there were at least two other dishes plus rice or bread and condiments.

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