18 March, 2014
Phool Kofi Aloor Dalna (Cauliflower Curry with Peas & Potatoes)
Cauliflower with peas and potatoes
The clocks have moved forward. Sprung forward. Adjusting the clock could be a bit confusing sometimes. The way I remember is we go to work an hour early. The thought of going to work early may not be something to look forward to, for anybody, me included. There still is an excitement with the words “sprung forward”. This also means somewhere I see the words “Spring”. Ah yes, Spring.
The picture of Tulip heads swaying with the wind and chirping of the birds immediately come to mind. Alas, I do not see any of those yet. Ravens and Magpies are the resident bird species around. They don’t seem to mind the weather. Their nests now exposed in between the branches of the leafless trees, looking like a game of tic tac toe. The sun tries hard to melt the snow. It barely makes a dent some days even with the help of its accomplice the wind. The lakes were frozen solid untill a week back. The neighbourhood kids took advantage of this by playing a game of hockey on it.
Growing up Cauliflower was a vegetable of winter. Cauliflower of all sizes used to flood the markets. With school being closed for the christmas holidays, we would sleep in. Breakfast would be a lazy affair. Friends would stop by late morning. We played badminton. The proper court was a few blocks away. We played impromptu games on makeshift courts. The branches of the mango tree of Anita Kakima”s house to the poinsettia bush in our house used to be the net line. Marked on the ground for better reference using a few irregular twigs from the garden. Ma and Baba tended to our garden, as if that was another of our sibling. Rose, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia in round, rectangular beds would reward their efforts manifold. We would straddle our feet very carefully between the two flower beds . The effort paid most of the times. The shuttle cock would put us in big trouble sometimes, landing on the pink Damask rose, that was so perfect until then.
The smell of cauliflower being cooked would waft from our kitchen window. That would be our cue to wind up the game soon. Ma would be asking us to get ready for lunch.
There would be days when she would ask us for help. Cutting some vegetables or shelling the peas. “Dekho, hath keto na”, she would caution, careful, don’t cut your hand. In between stirring the Dalna, she would run her eyes on the Thonga, the carrier bags. The ‘Thongas’ were made from old newspapers, unlike the brown paper bags we have here. There were two windows in the kitchen. The one faced east led the eyes towards our garden, her children playing. “Let me take a look at your knee”, she would demand rightfully some days, “Pore gele dekhlam”. “Saw you slip”. The north facing window gave a view of the road leading to the neighbourhood properties. Why was the ambulance waiting in front of Meeradi’s house, she worried. Ma had the pulse for our house and of the neighbourhood, sitting on her low stool in the kitchen. A pilot in the cockpit, all the while humming a few lines from her favourite Rabindra Sangeet. Talk about multitasking.
We have made progress. One doesn’t have to wait for winter to have cauliflower or peas. Mangoes can be enjoyed year round. Snow could be on grounds in the Prairies, it is still summer in Peru or Mexico. Novel methods of storing and transporting almost anything to anywhere , anytime has been made possible. Nature has been put on the backseat. Apparently we want things here, now.
Friends, do you have any fond memories of food with a particular season? What are your thoughts on eating seasonal?
Cauliflower Half head of a big cauliflower, cut into medium florets.
Potatoes Two medium, cut into small cubes. I keep them skin on.
Green peas Half cup shelled. I used frozen.
Tomatoes Four medium chopped into small cubes
Cilantro Chopped, two tsp
Bay leaf Couple
Ginger One inch grated
Cumin seeds One and half tsp
Turmeric powder One half tsp
Chilli powder One quarter tsp
Coriander powder Two tsp
Cumin powder One tsp
Salt To taste
Canola oil Four tbsp
Ghee One tsp
Garam masala One tsp
Put the canola oil in a wok on high heat. Add cumin seeds and bay leaf when the oil is hot. As soon as the cumin seeds get a bit of colour and a nice smell comes out, throw in the potatoes. Sprinkle salt and turmeric. Saute till the corners of the potatoes turn golden. Cover a bit. Add the cauliflower florets now. Give it a nice stir. Lower the gas to medium. In a small bowl add cumin, coriander, chilli powder and the chopped tomatoes. Make a thick paste by adding water. Add this paste to the wok. Stir intermittently until the oil separates from the spices. Careful it doesn’t get burned. Now add three cups of water and the grated ginger. Cover and let it cook till done. The gravy should be thick, adjust water accordingly. Put the gas off, add the peas, ghee and garam masala. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Keep covered until serving.
Check the taste. Enjoy with rice . You can also make it into a wrap, using tortillas or rotis with a little bit yoghurt by the side.
Ma Baba Mum and Dad.
Taste the Dalna, adjust to your taste. My husband N, likes things a bit sweet, so I squirt a bit of Tomato Ketchup towards the end.
Dalna is a preparation where the gravy is thicker.
Meeradi Di or Didi is respectfully suffixed name, when the person is older
Kakima Dad’s brother’s wife. Loosely used for aunty.
Garam masala Available in stores. “How to” in another post.
Special occasions demand less healthy options. The cauliflower and potatoes for those occasions are fried separately, then the above recipe followed. For everyday cooking I try to limit the oil.