Aloo-gobhi: Of tardiness which runs in our blood…

Just been doing some serious re-visiting of childhood anecdotes with my aunt and uncle. This uncle (my dad’s brother), by the way, had come to Hyderabad for an interview when I was due to be born. He waited and waited and waited and then finally had to go back to his native Bangalore a week after I was due to make an appearance. Apparently he had no sooner left than I decided to make a prima donna appearance – seven days late!

“Just like a girl,” was his comment. I disagree – “just like a Hyderabadi” would be more appropriate, methinks! We Hyderabadis take pride in our tardiness – and that is why no one has yet succeeded in driving the Nawabi-pan out of us yet! Madras did succeed – at least while I am there. When I am in Hyderabad, well, obviously I choose to do what my fellow-citizens do!

The tardiness in making an appearance seems to run in the family, btw… both my daughters were¬†nine¬†days late!

My aunt was a serious fan of Rajesh Khanna’s when she was a young girl, going so far as to travel to Bombay (this was in the ’70s when the great man was at the height of his popularity as a superstar), in the hopes of getting to see him! I do not remember whether she actually did but what I do know is that she passed on her admiration for the dimpled poster boy of Indian cinema to one of her children at least!

Her younger son, my cousin Jayant, was about two years old and hearing that he had a fever, I went to see him. Our little man is all wrapped up in blankets, sitting on his high chair, watching a Rajesh Khanna movie on TV. So engrossed he doesn’t see me. I do – see him and hear him mutter to himself, “(I am Rajesh Khanna. This is my Dimple and this is my Kapadia”, poking each of his dimples in turn!). For the non-cognoscenti, Dimple Kapadia was the hero’s wife back then!

When I started learning how to knit, I looked around for the smallest person I knew that I could knit a pullover for… and lighted on this same Rajesh-Dimple fan! With some (well, actually, much!) help from my grandmom, I made him a little sweater and called him over to try it on. It was a perfect fit and Jayant, thrilled with his new acquisition, scuttles off quickly, in case this big cousin should decide that it needs to be re-done and starts unraveling the wool!

Now, for a fan of Rajesh Khanna’s I obviously have to make something from his native Punjab… like this hoary old favourite…

ALOO GOBHI/Potato Cauliflower Curry

  • Cauliflower – 1 medium sized. Cut into florets and soak in warm, salted water for ten minutes to remove both worms and chemicals.
  • Potatoes – cut into fingers – 2 large.
  • Onion – 1 – sliced – optional
  • Ginger – 1 ” – julienned
  • Turmeric – 1/8 tsp
  • Coriander/dhania powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin/jeera powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Amchoor/dried mango powder – 1/2 tsp OR 1 chopped tomato
  • Green chili – minced – 1
  • Cloves – 2-3
  • Cinnamon – 1″ stick
  • Cardamom – 1 – just break it open by hitting it with a stone or a rolling pin.
  • Peppercorns – broken – 5-6
  • Asafoetida – 1 pinch
  • Kasooti methi – 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Ghee – 1 tsp

Heat the oil and ghee together. Add asafoetida and whole spices and saute for a few seconds.

Add onions, if using and fry till golden.

Add ginger and saute for a few seconds till crisp.

Add the spice powders, tomatoes (if using) and potatoes. Sprinkle a little water, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Drain rinse and add cauliflower. Saute for 3-4 minutes without covering to let it crisp a bit.

Add salt and cover and cook for about 6-7 minutes on a low flame till tender. Open, add kasooti methi and continue to cook till quite dry.

Serve with hot rotis.

Watch the dimples flash!