The one question I am asked most often regarding the local food scene is “Where can I get good Indian food?” This week’s neighborhood dining guide should help answer that, but if you want to try Indian at home, it doesn’t get any easier than aloo gobi.
The recipe is inspired by a line from the 2002 girl-power flick Bend it Like Beckham:
“Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?”
As someone who couldn’t do either, I decided to let Beckham keep his title (for now) and work on the cooking.
I started junior varsity soccer at Largo High right after Beckham opened, a movie that made the sport look like fun (especially if your soccer coach is Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). I was also discovering my love of Bollywood films and Indian food at the time; those interests lasted longer than my stint on the team.
Near my house in Largo there was an Indian café, pitchers of room temperature water on every table, pots stewing in the kitchen. Next door was an Indian grocery store, with Indian ingredients and a huge selection of Indian VHS tapes for rent. The store and café have since closed, but I never forgot about aloo gobi.
Cooking Indian food may seem daunting, but aloo gobi is possibly the easiest recipe ever and vegetarian-friendly. Go to your local ethnic grocer, preferably Indian or Asian, to find all the spices needed at a fraction of the cost. Cardamom runs about $10 a bottle normally, but a pouch of the ethnic grocer cardamom is only $2.
This dish takes about two hours to prepare and cook. The original recipe comes from Bend it Like Beckham’s director Gurinder Chadha, but I also borrowed from a few other recipes and modified the ingredients based on my home pantry.
Makes one big pot of curry
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons coriander (fresh, whole, or ground)
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (less depending on spice preference)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ground or freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garam marsala
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 head of cauliflower, diced into smaller pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans drained
1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium-heat. Add onions and cook until softened, add cumin seeds and garlic.
Cook until onions begin to brown. Add coconut milk and tomatoes, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, turmeric, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Be careful with the cayenne, a little goes a long way.
Bring everything to a boil, and then add cauliflower, potatoes, and garbanzo beans. (Sautéed chicken or ground turkey can also be added if desired.)
Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with a bit of garam marsala and serve over rice or with naan. Eating of aloo gobi may inspire mad-crazy soccer skills and fantasies of Beckham bending it for you.