Aloo gobi….i bet you didn’t know (which, how could you?) that this was the first indian dish i ever tasted, it started a very long love affair with both aloo gobi and indian cuisine in general. So many different versions and variations i’ve had and made over the years, wet, dry, peppers, no peppers, meltingly soft vegetables, vegetables cooked to just tender….i could wax poetic over this dish a hundred times. This version is my absolute favorite, it’s a dry version, with plenty of spice, lots of mustard seed, plenty of onion and bell pepper, perfectly cooked potato and cauliflower….with a slight twist. Preserved lemon. Which wasn’t an actual planned addition before i tried it, i happened to be reaching for the lemons to snag some juice for the dish, and happened to notice a new jar of preserved lemons sitting there, and thought “huh, that would be ridiculously delicious” and guess what? it IS!
450g | 1 lb cauliflower, broken/cut into florets
650g | 1 ½ lbs yellow/gold potatoes, cubed
125g | just over ¾ cup white/yellow onion, chopped
50g | about ½ cup shallots, chopped
200g | about 1 ¼ cups bell pepper, chopped (use a mix of green, red, and/or orange)
75g | about 2/3 cup jalapeno, sliced
25g | 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
20g | 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh galangal root
10g | 1 Tbsp garam masala
3g | 1 tsp cumin seed
20g | 4 tsp brown mustard seed
3.2g | 1 tsp turmeric powder
5.5g | 1 tsp asafetida/hing (compounded) powder **if making gluten free, make sure to use one without wheat
7g | 1 tsp fine salt
3.5g | 2 tsp coriander seed
2g | ½ tsp kashmiri chile powder
30g/32ml | 2 Tbsp oil or ghee
60g | ¼ cup preserved lemon, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 190°C | 375°F
Start by making your paste, blend together the galangal, ginger, and about ¼ of the onion and bell pepper (use the non-green ones for this) add in a little water if you need to
Now, grind together the cumin and coriander, once fine, add in garam masala, chile powder, turmeric, and hing, mix to combine well
Set aside about a third of the spice powder, mustard seed, as well as half the oil and preserved lemon
Toast mustard seed in oil over medium heat until popping, add in spice powder and remove from heat, toast just until you smell caramel, toasted notes (just 20-30 second) and add your ginger/galangal paste
Return to the heat and cook until thick and creamy, it should pull away from the pan when stirred
Toss paste with vegetables and half the lemon, place into an oven safe stockpot or baking dish, cover and bake for 35 minutes
Remove cover from pot/dish, set temperature to 220°C | 425°F, and bake for another 35 minutes
Toward the end of the second bake (last five minutes) heat the remaining oil over medium heat and toast the mustard seed until popping, then turn off the heat and stir in your spice powder, as soon as it’s done (same as before) pour into your aloo gobi along with the remaining preserved lemon and stir well
Place back in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove, replace the cover and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes
Try and remove as much of the browned bits from the side of your baking vessel as possible (a silicone spatula works well for this) and stir into the dish Serve it up however you’d like (preferably topped with fresh cilantro)
Adapting for slow cooker:
Cook on low for about 4 hours, adding your final tarka/preserved lemon the last 10 minutes
Adapting for instant pot/electric pressure cooker:
Cut your potatoes about half the size of the cauliflower (to ensure they cook at the same rate)
Do not mix in the tomato, instead place them on top, this helps to prevent scorching
Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot
Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes, then quick release
Add in your final tarka/preserved lemon, replace the lid and allow to rest for 5 minutes, or if you’d prefer it drier, turn to less/low sautée and simmer until desired consistency
Adapting for stovetop:
Cook over low-medium heat (you want a light simmer here), covered, until potatoes are cooked (about 20 minutes) -- you can also add a little water if the mix seems very dry in the beginning, ¼-⅓ cup is usually what i add, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan
Cook uncovered until liquid is reduced to desired level
Add final tarka/preserved lemon
*if you don’t have galangal root, sub with an extra 15g | 2 Tbsp of ginger, it will have a very different flavour, but still delicious For a milder version substitute extra bell pepper for the jalapeno, and/or replace the kashmiri chile powder with a milder chile (such as paprika) For a hotter version add more kashmiri chile, or sub with a hotter chile powder, and/or use serranos instead of jalapenos
I know it seems like a lot of stuff going into this dish, and you may balk at the idea of having to gather and prep it all, but in reality it comes together very quickly, and since this is slow roasted in the oven, your active time is really pretty brief. The vegges only need to be roughly chopped here, big chunks are good, so don’t waste your time making perfect small pieces. Potatoes (i prefer yellow potatoes here, but any fine textured potato will do) and cauliflower, of course, make up the bulk of the vegetables, with bell pepper added for sweetness and a nice texture contrast, onions for further sweetness and to enhance the flavors of the other vegges, tomatoes for tang, umami and moisture, jalapenos for heat (which you can sub with more bell pepper for a milder dish), and shallots for a little added punch. Mustard seed provides a nice crunch to the dish and little bursts of flavor, a robust blend of garam masala, cumin, turmeric, hing, coriander, and kashmiri chile powder (sub this with a milder chile if you’re going mild) create the wonderful spiced flavor without a single ingredient dominating. A paste of ginger, galangal, sweet bell pepper and onion provide a flavorful base for the dish and contribute initial moisture to help with cooking. Then we have the wonderful unique twist on this dish, the preserved lemon, which brings salt, umami, tartness, and brightness all to the dish, making it both richer and brighter at the same time.
Here you can see the ginger/galangal paste, and the spices ground together (except the mustard) and separated out for the cooking spices and tarka to add toward the end of roasting to add deeper layers of flavour. You’ll also be separating your preserved lemon, half to be added in the beginning and half along with the tarka at the end.
The mustard seed get toasted in oil/ghee over medium heat until they’re popping, then the spice powder is added and cooked briefly before adding the ginger/galangal paste. Don’t skip toasting the mustard, it’s very important for the flavor and texture of the dish.
You just want to cook the paste long enough that it pulls away from the pan, it will have the texture of canned pumpkin puree, rather thick and shiny. You then toss this with the vegges and half your preserved lemon and into the oven it goes! See? i told you this was pretty simple.
We make a tarka with the reserved spice powder and mustard seed (a tarka is simply spices cooked/toasted in oil), once again, the mustard seed goes in first, is cooked til popping, then just turn off the heat, stir in the spice powder, cook just until you smell caramel-esque toasted notes, and pour it into the dish or into something not hot to wait until you’re ready for it. Don’t leave it in the pan or it will scorch and you will end up with bitter notes. (you don’t want that, it’s gross) Also, when you do add the tarka, it’s also time to add the remaining preserved lemon.
The roasting has two stages, the initial cook is covered, this allows the cooking process to happen without overly drying the ingredients and allows the flavours to better infuse into the vegges. The second stage is uncovered, which allows excess moisture to burn off and some caramelization to occur, bringing some lovely deep notes to the dish. If you prefer more depth and a richer, sweeter dish, use a more shallow baking pan, the extra exposure to the oven air will more quickly brown the vegges. When it is done roasting, pull from the oven and pop the cover back on and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes….why? see all that lovely dark yumminess stuck to the sides of the pan? covering the dish allows steam to build up and soften that so you can mix it back into the dish! Don’t skip that, it is really the best part.
While i HIGHLY recommend taking the extra time to do the slow roast method, you could easily adapt this for a slow cooker, and electric pressure cooker, or the stovetop. There will be suggestions for these adaptations in the recipe directions. [but don’t. do the slow roast. you deserve the yum]
Serve this as a main dish, with rice and naan, use it as a side or part of a thali, OR (this may blow your mind) it is stupidly good in tacos!! i kid not. tacos. Throw it in some soft corn or wheat tortillas (or naan!), top with some cilantro, salsa (or chutney), cucumber, lettuce or cabbage for crunch, maybe a drizzle of raita, yogurt or sour cream and it is totally nom. Mind-blowingly nom. You will not be sorry you tried it.