Saturday, January 22, 2011

Faux Indian food

Every year when we're both home for Christmas I ask my brother to make Indian food. He's a white guy, obviously, but he makes incredible Indian food in the southern style (no onions or garlic). We usually have aloo gobi and a green bean dish, plus this tomato chutney that is pretty much my favorite thing. (I always ask him to make extra and without fail there is not enough; I want a spoonful on every bite, basically.) This is a perfect meal for my family to eat together because it's vegan and gluten-free but my meat- and bread-loving parents like it too. It's also a rare treat for me to sit back and drink wine while he chops away, because usually when I eat in I'm doing the cooking.

As much as I like this food I never attempt to make it myself. This is partly because it's relatively labor-intensive, and partly because I want it to remain special. Tonight I decided to make something similar but easier, using the oven instead of the stovetop for the aloo gobi and canned tomatoes instead of fresh. I wasn't really trying to re-create my brother's dishes, but they came out very close in the end. Delicious and a little bit like Indian french fries and ketchup.

Aloo Gobi Ish

1 small head cauliflower
1 pound or so yellow potatoes, about 3 medium, peeled
5 or 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled (optional)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
ground cumin
ground coriander
garam masala
cayenne pepper
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut the cauliflower into florets or slices, about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the potatoes into sticks 1/4-1/2 inch thick and wide and 2 inches long (they should look like stubby fries). In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower, potatoes and garlic with the lemon juice and zest, the spices, and several goodly glugs of olive oil. The spices are to taste; I probably used 1/4 tsp of cayenne, 1/2 tsp of garam masala and a full teaspoon of everything else, including salt. Toss it all around to coat all the vegetables with the oil and spices. Spread it out onto two baking sheets (unless you have a really huge baking sheet) and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies are getting brown, crispy edges. At this point it's easiest to consolidate everything onto one sheet, then toss with the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and lemon juice if necessary. Serve with basmati rice and mucho tomato chutney, recipe below. Enough for 2-3 with leftovers.

Tomato Chutney

vegetable oil and/or butter
brown mustard seeds
cumin seeds
1 fresh jalapeño, sliced into rounds, including seeds
a little minced fresh ginger (optional)
1 big can of tomatoes, whole or diced
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil, or a combination of oil and butter, in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, jalapeño and ginger if using and let sizzle and pop for about a minute (should smell yummy). Dump in the tomatoes, cinnamon stick, sugar and salt. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer away for about half an hour, or until it reaches a thick, chutney-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary; it should taste like a sweet, spicy, jammy ketchup. If you have leftovers, this would be good on regular old fries or roasted potatoes, with cheese or on a grilled cheese sandwich, on eggs, etc.


  1. Yum! These recipes look amazing, especially the tomato chutney. I must say, I think each dish could be enhanced by onions and/or garlic.

    But that's just me, Garlic Bulb Head.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  2. Martin and I are going to make both of these soon. We made the pasta recipe you put up last week, and it was delish. Thanks for these!

  3. Josephine, I hear you -- I normally put onions and garlic in EVERYTHING. Roasted or caramelized onions are up there on my fave food list with tomatoes.

    Kathy, glad you liked the pasta!

  4. Stealing your recipe for my next dinner with K.