February 8, 2010

Roasted Alu Gobi

That's roasted cauliflower and potato to all you non-Indian-food-eating folks.

Alu gobi is a classic Indian vegetable combo in which potatoes (alu—or aloo—or alou—there's really no end to the ways you can transliterate Hindi words into English) and cauliflower (gobi) are cooked together in a spice-laden sauce. The sauce can be soupy or it can be kind of dry and cling to the vegetables.

Now I'll let you in on a secret. I've never liked alu gobi much. Maybe it's because the cauliflower often gets sort of boiled in the sauce and I find boiled mushy cauliflower kind of off-putting—unless it's in creamy cauliflower soup.

Then I discovered roasting cauliflower. I assume most people know about this fabulous way to cook cauliflower, but just in case you don't, let me exhort you. GO ROAST SOME CAULIFLOWER NOW!

Roasting turns cut-up cauliflower florets into sweet, caramelized, succulent little morsels. And it couldn't be easier. Just cut up cauliflower, toss with a little oil and salt, and roast in 375 degree oven until tender. (You can fool around with the oven temp. Lower and slower makes them a little sweeter; higher and faster gets them a little browner. I compromise with a middling temp.)

To make a long story short, it wasn't much of a hop from roasting plain cauliflower to roasting it tossed in some Indian spices (a masala, if you will) and from there it was only a skip to roasting it with potatoes and then tossing them together in a bowl to let their flavors mingle.

A couple of things about roasted alu gobi:

1) If you're lazy efficient like me and only use one roasting pan, put the potatoes and cauliflower on separate sides, like this:

That way, if the potatoes get done before the cauliflower, it's easy to take them out. If you don't want to be lazy efficient, you can use two roasting pans. Just make sure you switch em up on the racks a couple of times to ensure even cooking.

2) I think this dish tastes best if made ahead and left in the bowl for a couple of hours. I think it tastes better at room temp anyway.

I added some chopped peanuts this time (I threw them onto the baking sheet about 10 minutes before the cauliflower was done) but they didn't seem to be a big hit—the Vegetarian pushed all of her peanuts to the side of her plate. (And she absolutely loves this dish!)

Also, though I used them here, I don't really love small new potatoes in this dish. I favor Yukon golds or some other yellow-fleshed variety. But hey, use whatever you have.

And feel free to mix up the spices. Add in some garam masala; leave out the turmeric. It should all taste good.

Roasted Alu Gobi
2 pounds potatoes, peeled (or not) and cut into pieces
1 head cauliflower, cut into smallish florets
peanut or some kind of neutral oil
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
peanuts, cilantro, or coconut to garnish (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375. Mix all the spices, including salt and cayenne, if using, together in a small bowl.
2) In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with half the spice mixture and enough oil to coat. Spread the potatoes on one side of a lightly oiled baking sheet.
3) In the same bowl, toss together the cauliflower, the rest of the spice mixture, and enough oil to coat. Spread on the other side of the baking sheet.
4) Bake, turning pan occasionally, until vegetables are done. Potatoes may be done before cauliflower. If that happens, use a spatula to remove the potatoes to a serving bowl and continue cooking the cauliflower until done.
5) Toss vegetables together in the serving bowl and add salt if necessary. Garnish with chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, shredded coconut, a drizzle of mustard oil—anything you want, really.

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