Play with your food! Aloo Gobi
A classic Indian dish, Aloo Gobi is cauliflower and potato cooked with regional variations on spices. Here it’s presented in phyllo dough which has been rolled over a hollow cylinder of wax paper and foil. After baking, the foil is removed for a flakey shell to fill. Here, I placed the Aloo Gobi at either end with several chunks of lamb in the center.
Phyllo is traditionally rolled with butter between the layers. To keep with the Indian theme I used melted ghee and in the variations olive oil, canola, or no fat at all.
If you look closely the four cylinders presented here, you’ll see variations in color. To see what flavors I could bring into the dish I sprinkled various spice mixtures between the layers as I rolled. In other recipes I used dried powdered spinach or tomato. When broken each of the shards is a nugget of flavor and the contents spill onto the plate, which you can see below.
Tier one (you must use)
- 2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed to bite sized portions
- Cauliflower cut into bite sized florets (typically equal to the volume of potatoes)
- Flavorless oil or ghee (to cook the spices)
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Cumin (common to all recipes)
- 1 Onion (or replace with hing/asafoetida**)
- Up to 1 tablespoon Ginger garlic paste (or replace with hing/asafoetida**)
- Red and green chilies (to taste)
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- salt (to taste)
Tier two (suggested)
- 1/2 cup fresh or canned tomatoes
- Fresh lemon or lime juice (to taste)
- Hing/Asafoetida (used in place of onion, ginger, garlic)
Tier three (optional)
- Additional spices: 1 Indian bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds (used at beginning to flavor the oil)
- Bitter herbs (1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaves or amchoor powder can be used to give the dish bitterness. You would use one or the other, not both.)
- Fresh coriander leaves (to garnish)
Method: Heat ghee or oil in a pan and add the bay leaf and mustard seeds then the cumin. When the cumin pop add hing then immediately after the onions to cool down the pan and prevent the spices, especially the hing, from burning. Cook until the onions are well browned or continue cooking until the oil comes out then add 1/4 cup of water (see note) and repeat up to six times.
Add ginger/garlic paste, chilies, turmeric, and bitter herbs (fenugreek leaves or amchoor). Add tomatoes or 1/4 water which lowers the heat preventing the spices from burning. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula to make sure nothing is stuck to the pan. Add the potatoes, mix well so the potatoes are coated, cover and cook for five minutes.
Add the cauliflower and mix. If the bottom of the pan has no moisture, add up to 1/4 cup of water before covering. Cook five to ten minutes more until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Add the coriander, cumin, and garam masala. Remove from heat.
When ready to serve garnish with fresh coriander and lime (or lemon) juice.
Note: Restaurant quality Indian food uses a technique of cooking the onions until they release the oil at which point you add in a ladle of water and cook it down again until it releases the oil. You’ll do that five to seven times. Each time you’ll notice the paste gets darker and darker as caramelized residue in the pan dissolves back into the mixture. This technique also breaks down the cell walls of the onions to give the end sauce a better texture.
** Some people do not eat onions, garlic, or ginger. In place they use hing/asafetida