(About to lose power! So let me post this quickly and wish us luck during Hurricane Sandy!)
I saw one of those manager’s specials at the local supermarket recently – a styrofoam and plastic wrap missile loaded with a pound cauliflower florets for about 99 cents, so I grabbed it impulsively, intentionally forgetting that cauliflower is not yet on my son’s List of Acceptable Vegetables. I can easily eat a pound of cauliflower on my own, I thought, if I don’t try to do it all in one day.
Then, a day or two later, there was the cauliflower, looking at me rather expectantly, mournfully, accusatory-like from its tightly wrapped package, while I prepared other vegetables from Leandro’s List of Acceptable Vegetables. We know the manager doesn’t put vegetables on special if they are at their peak of freshness, so the cauliflower needed doing before it fell off Natalia’s List of Acceptable Vegetables.
I made an executive decision. The manager’s special cauliflower was not going towards another vain attempt to interest Leandro in expanding his List after which I would be obligated to eat all of it. No. It was curry time. And so, aloo gobi (cauliflower and potatoes) without the aloo (potatoes). This is, of course, not in any way to be judged as an attempt at authentic Indian food. In fact, I had a handful of peeled apple slices left over from the little guy’s lunch, and threw them in for sweetness. It was more than tasty enough and served me not just for a dinner, but a couple of microwaveable office lunches.
Leandro wouldn’t taste it, but that doesn’t mean progress was not made. He crushed the spices in the mortar and pestle, and was entranced by the fragrances. So it is just a matter of time.
Note: (I withheld the turmeric from the pestle, until I threw it all in the skillet – turmeric stains permanently, so it’s best not to let a five-year-old with a club mess with it. Additional note: Bend It Like Beckham is one of my favorite movies. Aloo gobi figures prominently in the film.)
Curried Cauliflower (Aloo Gobi without the aloo)
½ tsp curry powder (mild or hot)
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (I don’t bother peeling)
1 Tbs cumin powder
¼ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp coriander seed
½ tsp cumin seed
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric (careful, it stains!)
Salt to taste
2 Tbs mixed olive oil/vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onion (I also added a 1/2 Cup of chopped chard stems because I had them)
1 lb cauliflower, cut in fork-size pieces
(optional 1/2 Cup of peeled apple slices)
In a mortar and pestle crush all the spice ingredients at least enough to release their flavors. They don’t have to be finely crushed.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until loose and fragrant. Add the onions, stir and lower heat. Allow to soften at least five minutes. Add the cauliflower (and optional apple slices), stir to cover and cook for a few minutes to begin tenderizing. Add spice mixture, stir to coat, add ¼ Cup water (or other flavorful broth if you like) if you want a softer texture. Cover and cook until you reach desired tenderness. Salt to taste and serve with rice.