Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Achari Gobi(cauliflower) - Cooking lessons from the Master

Hello October, already? Last I spoke to you all was in Summer :-). I have no idea how the year flew by and is almost nearing the end. Well, I will spare the year end/new year speech here (I need that material for Dec 31st :-)). But, time seems to be really rushing by and I have ample proof in the occasional gray hairs I find when I brush. That is also another day's material, I mean the gray hairs and their appearances. Until then, let us stick to safer and more publicly acknowledged topics, shall we?

October marks the beginning of the Fall/Autumn season, and if you happen to be in the region where color changes all around you, consider yourself lucky because that is one gorgeous sight to behold. Of all the places I have been to, I love the Washington Autumn best. The terrain is marked with huge, tall, ever greens but has loads of color changing, leaves dropping deciduous trees. The Autumn colors from blazing red to happy yellow look all the more beautiful as the sturdy, stark, dark green ever greens stand in contrast in the back ground. As I look at those confidence alluding ever greens, it somehow feels ok to let go of all the leaves and let the trees hibernate for the season.
As is typical for every weather, the cold days have their very own vegetables. Gobi or Cauliflower is considered a winter vegetable in India, most flavorful and fresh during the cold months. But you can't really eat a bland vegetable in the nippy weather either, right? So, here is some perk-you-up kind of chatpata Gobi curry, if you didn't know the name, you would be wondering where that familiar smell and flavor were coming from. Since you know the name, you can decipher the dish to be tasting similar to achar or pickle :-). But to set the record straight, achari Gobi doesn't mean pickled cauliflower, it is a cauliflower curry with spices used in normal pickles.
In the olden days when there were no 150 odd channels to surf when you switched on the TV, I remember watching a cookery show in a relative's house. The guy flashed his dimples, smiled and was very amiable and spoke in 'shuddh Hindi (good, unadulterated Hindi)' and I just fell in love with that show. He became very famous, wrote (I don't know how many) cook books, turned entrepreneur with kitchen gadgets and masala powders, was invited as a guest on foreign cookery shows (like Rachel Ray's) over the years. I am sure many of you know who I am talking about and probably share my fondness for chef Sanjeev Kapoor. With my own experience in the kitchen, I know now that not all of his recipes will be a hit with my family and also that he was not always doing 'home cooking'. He most definitely was a trend setter on an original cookery show on Indian television when cooking and recipes were limited to one's own kitchen and not flaunted or marketed or shared. Very different times than today. He brought the unknown North Indian dishes to the very South Indian kitchen like ours and also made us laugh at some of the lame South Indian recipes presented on his show claiming them to be authentic :-), ah the allure of authenticity.
I go back to the master chef from time to time to see what I can pick up. With a fresh Gobi, my natural choice was Sanjeev Kapoor. His achari Gobi has an Amritsari charm along with whole spices but I powdered them as we do not prefer to bite into them. I skipped the vinegar but added the yogurt, other than that the recipe is a lift off from Sanjeev Kapoor.

Pepped up with mustard oil, this curry has the flavors of fenugreek, fennel seeds and onions seeds wrapping up the succulent Cauliflower florets - a sure crowd pleaser for a big gathering or a small family meal. We had it with warm chapatis and some tangy sautekayi gojju on the side, yumm. Winter cold becomes bearable with such a dish.
What do you need to make Achari Gobi?
1 medium sized cauliflower - about 4 cups of florets
1 inch piece fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup yogurt
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tblsp mustard oil
1 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp Kalonji/onion seeds
1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder
To powder:
1/2 Tsp mustard
1.5 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1 Tsp fennel seeds/saunf
2-3 dry red chilies
How do you make Achari Gobi?
  • Remove the stalk end and the surrounding leaves of the cauliflower, separate the florets and cut them in to desired size.
  • Wash, peel and make a paste of ginger.
  • Make a paste of garlic cloves.
  • Take the ingredients under 'To powder' to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and make a fine powder, keep covered until ready to use.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, when it is about to start smoking, add cumin followed by Kalonji and turmeric powder.
  • Add the cauliflower florets, stir it in to mix, add salt, ginger and garlic paste.
  • Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the cauliflower becomes slightly soft.
  • Add the masala powder, mix in thoroughly, cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes until cauliflower is fork tender.
  • Add the yogurt, increase heat and cook for a couple of minutes until the liquids evaporate.
  • Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Mustard oil gives the dish an authentic pickle taste, if you do not have it, use any other oil.
  • Use a wide pan so the cauliflower florets are distributed in a single layer, do not pile or crowd them in a small pan to ensure uniform cooking.
  • Yogurt brings the required tartness in the dish, you can replace it with vinegar or dry mango powder instead.
  • Actual cook time depends on the size of the cauliflower pieces and your stove but the entire process does not take more than 15 minutes from start to finish, adjust the time to end with juicy soft florets that hold their shape without collapsing.
  • This is not a curry with gravy, it is moist but dry, so increase heat once you add yogurt to help the liquids evaporate.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

achari Gobi looks very lovely and mouth watering. goes with chapathi and dose also. nice dish and wonderful narration with beautiful pictures.

Priya Suresh said...

Love achari aloo,achari baingan and am adding this achari gobi in that list, fantastic dish.