I want to learn how to cook every single Indian recipe in existence. That is my dream. Indian food represents comfort food to me because of its exotic and spicy flavors that remind me a lot of the Mexican spices that my mom used when she cooked for us growing up. The spicier the better! The thing about Indian food though is that it carries this mysterious secret with it that refuses to be revealed to me because every time I try to cook an Indian dish, it doesn’t taste the way I wanted it to taste. It still has a distinctive curry flavor, and the food is still delicious, yet I feel like I need to submerge myself in the Indian culture to understand their food and the history that led up to modern Indian cuisine.
I have been reading the book ” Food in History”, and after reading the introduction, I immediately skipped to the chapter that explains a lot of the history of Indian food. It helped me understand why vegetarianism is an important part of the Indian food culture. The cuisine varies from region to region, with great Aryan, Persian, Greek, and central Asian influences along the Indus valley. While Europeans where hesitant to use most fruits in their cooking and Chinese scarcely used dairy, the book explains that Indian cuisine made good use of both of these ingredients, which resulted in splendid and exotic dishes. The Northwestern part of India had a large nomadic influence and thus, more meat was consumed here than the southern tip of the country.
The teachings of the Buddha and Mahavira were opposed to the caste system and to the slaughter of animals based on the belief of the reincarnation of souls. This philosophy provided the greatest influence to the vegetarian cuisine of the south.
I have decided that at some point in my career, I will travel to India to learn more about the history of these foods, as well as the complexity of their flavors. Of course for now, I’m lucky to live very close to an amazing little vegetarian Indian restaurant that will satisfy my craving for delicious curry.
A couple of days ago I decided to make a curried cauliflower dish. Before this, my only attempt to use curry powder was mixed in with yogurt to make curried egg salad, and in lentils. I was feeling brave, so I decided to make my curry using a curry cream sauce from a textbook given to me at school. This dish is traditionally called aloo gobi from the Punjab state in northern region of India.
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs white flour
1/2 onion diced
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 Tbs ginger paste ( or peel some fresh ginger and crush it with the garlic press)
3 tbs curry powder (spicy)
1/2 c cream
1 cup water
2 cups cauliflower
1 cup diced and peeled potatoes
salt /pepper to taste
1. It was very easy to make this dish because most of the work is completed during the first steps of cooking. The best way to make a hearty, creamy sauce is to use a roux base which is the flour and butter to use as thickener. Use equal parts butter and flour for this recipe. Melt the butter in the large pot and add onions.Make sure the heat remains between medium to high heat.
2. Let the onions sweat a little bit, then add garlic, curry, ginger and stir in until it is all coated in butter. By this time the aroma will be amazing.
3. Add the flour into the mix and stir until it becomes a paste. Some of it will stick to the bottom of the pan but it doesn’t matter because as soon as the water is added, whisking it vigorously will dissolve any lumps.
4. Add the potatoes, cauliflower and cream into the pot and let everything simmer until the potatoes become soft. Once they are soft add the peas. Finally, season with salt and pepper.
Serve with steamed basmati rice or jasmine rice.