My Recipe for Gobi Masala

I said in a previous post that I would soon share my recipe for gobi masala (cauliflower curry), now a staple in my personal cooking repertoire. November is a good month to do so because this wholesome dish is particularly good and comforting in the cold season — not that the weather is a consideration from an Indian perspective though… My favorite things about gobi masala? Its texture and its meaty (though totally vegetarian) taste. I think the combination of cauliflower and crushed cashews is key.

A couple of don’ts and do’s before starting. Don’t be intimated by the list of ingredients. You can simplify by following my suggestions in italics. It’s OK to skip one or two spices if you don’t have them in your pantry. Do make plenty (I mean, stick to the quantities below), serve half on the day you cook, and store a batch in your freezer. You’ll be so gad to have it ready on a busy day! Here goes:

1 medium head cauliflower
3 Tbsp neutral oil to sauté cauliflower
2 Tbsp neutral oil for curry
1 small bay leaf
½ tsp caraway seeds
1 medium sized onion, chopped finely
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed (I use 2 tsp from a jar of minced garlic.)
½ inch ginger crushed (I use 1 tsp from a jar of minced ginger.)
3 medium sized tomatoes (I sometimes use 1 can chopped tomatoes.)
1 small handful whole cashews
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ garam masala powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
3-4 Tbsp whole yogurt, whisked till smooth
2 Tbsp heavy liquid cream
a pinch nutmeg
salt to taste

1. Chop cauliflower into medium florets. Rinse well and steam till slighter tender (but not mushy at all).
2. Grind tomatoes and cashews to a smooth paste in a blender with very little water. Set aside.
3. Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a wok until it starts simmering.
4. Add cauliflower and sauté on medium heat until florets start getting light brow spots on them (8-10 minutes). Remove from wok and seat aside.
5. Add 2 Tbsp oil in same wok. Add bay leaf and caraway seeds. Fry for a few seconds, until oil becomes aromatic.
6. Add chopped onion and sauté till golden and caramelized.
7. Add crushed ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds, until the raw aroma goes away.
8. Add tomato-cashew paste and stir.
9. Add spice powders – coriander, cumin, red chili, garam masala, and turmeric. Sauté stirring often until oil starts to leave the sides of the masala. (The whole masala will clamp together. This is an important step, as the flavors are coming through the dish.)
10. Turn off heat, add whisked yogurt. Stir well and add up to 1 cup of water. Stir again and turn on heat back to low to medium.
11. Add cauliflower and salt. Stir and cover with a tight lid. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
12. Add cream and nutmeg. Stir and turn off heat.
13. Serve hot with roti, nan, or rice.

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