Every now and then, my love for food and my relatively high level of bravado intersect. I was that kid who always had to eat the blue raspberry Warheads without displaying any indication of distress. Now, I am that slightly-older-than-a-kid who enjoys eating the spiciest food available. There is such thrill in the mouthwatering agony that comes from biting into a jalapeño pepper, such satisfaction from ordering the “Thai spicy” rather than the “American spicy” options on the menu, and such glory from winning wasabi-eating contests in high school Spanish classes.
Spicy food has its perks beyond boosting my ego. It is reported to have many health benefits, including alleviating symptoms of the common cold, lowering blood pressure, and increasing metabolism. It also broadens your palate and enables you to eat many different types of cuisine. Spice adds excitement to otherwise ordinary dishes, and it comes in many flavors of tantalizing intrigue—when it doesn’t threaten to burn off your taste buds.
Now that I am in college, I decided to embark on a quest to cook more flavorful spicy food, rather than simply adding hot pepper flakes to anything and everything put in front of me—which I frequently do.
I chose to make aloo gobi, a dish I have sampled in many Indian restaurants. Its primary ingredients are potatoes and cauliflower (aloo and gobi, respectively), and it incorporates spices such as turmeric and curry which give it that wonderful Indian flavor and deep yellow color.
This aloo gobi recipe is adapted from the one portrayed in the movie “Bend It like Beckham.” The entire process should take approximately an hour, but the cooking itself is fairly smooth and simple. I would recommend doing the prep work before you begin heating the sauce because things move very quickly once you begin adding ingredients to the pot.
Another thing I learned while making this dish is the importance of having a can opener. I really do owe my cooking partner a fantastic amount of thanks for her brute strength and tenacity during the 45 minutes we spent attempting to open the can of tomatoes by means of a spoon, a room key, how-to YouTube videos, and ferocious will and determination.
This was a fantastic meal, and it was made (metaphorically) from sweat, blood, and tears.
Aloo Gobi, Serves 8
¼ cup olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 small habanero pepper, chopped
16 oz. canned diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
3 potatoes, cut into even cubes
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ cup cilantro, shredded
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat.
Sauté the onion and cumin until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown. Then add the coriander, turmeric, and salt.
Add the tomatoes to the onions, followed by the habanero pepper, garlic, and ginger.
Add the potatoes and cauliflower, followed by the ¼ cup of water to ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the pan. More water can be added if necessary. Stir the mixture until the vegetables are evenly coated with the sauce.
Cover the pan and allow the dish to simmer until the potatoes are fully cooked, which should take approximately 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and stir in the cilantro and curry powder.
Serve warm with rice, bread, or yogurt to temper the intensity of the spice! Let your taste buds burn.