Monday, 17 July 2017

Aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry)

I have mentioned vegetarianism in previous posts, how I even tried being a vegetarian as a pretentious student. What I didn't mention then was that the reason for this was, in part, to get on the good side of a girl who was in the same student hall as me that I quite fancied. It's a scientifically proven fact* that most guys who perform a coup de theatre in terms of lifestyle in their late teens, like turning away from meat for instance, are generally doing it to get into the pants of someone they like. Anyway, at the time, my justification was the poor yield of protein per hectare from raising livestock for food compared to arable farming which was morally wrong when people were starving in the world. Using this justification I could then allow eating lamb doner kebabs as sheep were raised on scrubby hills that had no use in growing vegetables, and fish, since this was mainly gotten from out of water.The spell of vegetarianism lasted for a few weeks before I lapsed back into eating meat properly. A legacy of this time is the fact that I have absolutely no qualms about eating vegetarian food on a regular basis.

More recently, it has become well publicised that meat production leaves a far larger carbon footprint than growing vegetables alone. While it's true that most people in the west have larger carbon footprints than a sasquatch in snow shoes that are five sizes too big, and any change in diet would have a pretty minute effect on this, it still gives a chance to prevent the liberation of a tiny amount of additional carbon into the atmosphere. There are other ways to reduce your carbon footprint, like not flying, having children, having pets or driving a car, but who wants to stop doing any of that?

One of the main causes of the increased carbon emission through raising livestock is the effect of intestinal gas from cattle. Cow farts are making the world a warmer place as they release methane which is 23 times worse at causing atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide. One possibility to offset this might be to stop the cows farting in the first place and one way of doing this is using charcoal. Perhaps giving Ermintrude a load of charcoal tablets might help alleviate this source of pollution. It may even have the added bonus of the cows shitting ready-formed BBQ briquettes, so everyone's a winner. Well, apart from the cows, who would be producing the fuel by which they would be cooked of a nice summer evening.

Charcoal tablets
A possible solution to global warming

So where am I going with this? Well, it's another vegetarian recipe as I am planning a regular meat free dinner every week. India has more vegetarians than the population of most countries, so it's not surprising that some of the very best vegetarian cuisine comes from the subcontinent.

I have done a recipe for another potato curry previously, but this is a take on an aloo gobi, where the spud is partnered with cauliflower in one of the tastiest vegetable curries found on the menu of an Indian takeaway. As I mentioned before, potatoes have enough substance to them to make a decent main course in their own right, plus the lentils add extra protein and make for an even more substantial meal.

*It probably isn't scientifically proven, but I've not looked at the literature so it might be.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 70 minutes

150g dried red lentils
200g cauliflower florets broken into bite-sized pieces
450g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-3cm cubes
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
½ tsp whole fenugreek seeds
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp onion seeds
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground tumeric
pinch of chilli flakes

It's another spice picture
(from 10 o'clock: coriander, black pepper, mustard seeds, chilli flakes, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds with paprika in the middle)

Boil the lentils for 20 minutes, strain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a good, heavy pan and add the spices, onion and garlic and gently fry for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and continue to fry for another 10 minutes.

Throw in the cauliflower and keep stirring for another 5 minutes.

Add the lentils to the pan and add 200ml water and salt according to taste.

Bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (until the potatoes become tender).

Serve with rice and/or naan bread, on its own or with another curry or two
 Aloo gobi 
(on the left, with a courgette curry on a bed of plain boiled rice)

In contrast to most of my previous curry recipes, this dish uses lots of earthy rather than the more aromatic spice flavours and doesn't have a tomato base. It is a good contrast to these if you are serving more than one dish

I used floury old potatoes in this recipe as the texture works better than new potatoes.

A cow farts aren't the only trump that cause a stink and fucks up the world.

Traditionally, cauliflower has been a fairly unassuming vegetable, being boiled on its own or perhaps upping the ante a little with cauliflower cheese, the vegetarian staple of the 70s. However, cauliflower is currently having a bit of a surge in popularity as a "low carb" food and is finding uses as a substitute for rice, pizza base or even steak. Why stop there? How about cauliflower chocolate brownies, cauliflower yoghurt, cauliflower flavoured condoms? It's fucking cauliflower for Christ's sake. It's a lovely vegetable in its own right and doesn't need to be given superpowers. However, if you are using it in some other dish, I would say that aloo gobi is as good as it gets.

There aren't a huge number of songs that mention curries in general, let alone aloo gobi in particular. One that does, however, is this spoof of Kula Shaker's Govinda, by former Radio 1 DJs Mark and Lard performing as their band the Shire Horses.

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