Taste and savor authentic and unforgettable curry flavors from my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2016) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine (Editor’s Choice, 2016) with simple and easy-to-understand instructions.
Growing up in India, my mother always impressed upon us, “Remember that spices and herbs have medicinal properties and are the heating and cooling energy specialists of the body. They aid the digestive process and provide heat to the body and cool it.”
Healing with foods, herbs, and spices is nature’s gift to people. The health benefits of cooking with curry spices and herbs are numerous. Turmeric, the unique, colorful, and versatile spice is an essential flavoring agent for curries, lentils, and vegetables. Combined with twelve or more different healing spices, turmeric gives curry that distinctive, delicious and unique flavor. As a natural astringent substance, turmeric helps to tighten and firm tissues, organs, and skin and rejuvenate the body. In India turmeric paste is applied to external wounds, cuts, or bruises to protect against infection and stimulate cell growth, and also heals skin conditions such as acne.
Onion helps to destroy bacteria and infection-causing microorganisms, and is considered a diuretic. In India, garlic is used to aid digestion and absorption of food and is considered a mild and gentle laxative. Its rejuvenating and aphrodisiac properties help prevent decay, postpone aging, and revitalize tissues. As a natural antibiotic, it destroys and inhibits the growth of bacteria, and other microorganisms, heals wounds, and protects against infection. Ginger tea with honey and fresh lemon juice helps to relieve colds, cough, sore throat, and chest congestion. Chili is excellent for the skin because it opens up clogged pores and expels toxins. Cumin seeds have been used as a flavoring agent and medicine for thousands of years. Garam masala (hot spice) is a powdered blend of dried spices – cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorns, nutmeg, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds.
Benares-Style Cauliflower with Potatoes (Rasedar Benaresi Alu-Gobi)
Enjoy this very popular vegetarian dish eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a variety of Indian bread (chapatti, paratha, poori, naan) and Basmati rice and lentils (dal) from my first cookbook Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables.
1 cup water
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1½” piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon Basic Garam Masala (see Index)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt to taste
Place ¼ cup water, the onion, garlic, ginger, and coriander seeds in a blender and puree. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cumin and caraway seeds and fry over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the pureed mixture, stirring for 6-8 minutes, until the oil separates. Mix in the garam masala and turmeric and stir for 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower, potatoes, and salt, and remaining water. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables are done, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Serve hot with pooris, chapatis, or plain rice, dal, and mango chutney.