Aloo Broccoli

Once in a while. you want to try something different. Steer away from the everyday and jazz things up a little. Change the routine and surprise yourself. Take a detour from the simple foods that you have no recipe for, the ones where you just put a few things together subconsciously. Then there are the times where you just want to clear out the fridge.

Aloo-Gobi (Cauliflower) is a no-brainer for anyone who cooks Indian – any region. I am sure that every one of us has tried a variation of this with broccoli. My first attempt at this, I realised that I (& the family) prefer broccoli that is lightly spiced. For all its similarity in looks to the cauliflower, the broccoli has a more pronounced flavor, chlorophyll will do that to you. IMO, less is more where this pretty vegetable is concerned. My second attempt at Aloo-Broccoli was one based on the upkari-vegetables cooked konkani style with mustard seeds and a sole dry Red chilli-I changed the spices a liitle bit. It worked great and is our most favored way to eat broccoli. When more pressed for time or when trying to add healthy sides in our lunch boxes, I microwave-steam the broccoli florets with salt in a covered plate for about 3 minutes. Toss with a little bit of olive oil to coat. Pack it and feel like a domestic goddess for the rest of the day for giving a side in the lunch boxes, healthy one to boot. I give baby carrots this treatment too.

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Recipe

In a 10″ frying pan, take

2 tbsp of Peanut oil

warmed till the oil forms ripples, add-in quick succession-

Turmeric/tumeric/haldi-a pinch
Red Chilli Flakes – to taste, I prefer to be generous here
2 Medium potatoes, cubed

Stir to coat, cover and lower heat to medium low to cook till the potatoes are halfway cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Shake the covered pan in between to make sure they don’t stick. As soon as the potatoes are halfway cooked, add

1 cup of broccoli florets, trimmed
Black Pepper, ground, to taste
Salt, to taste

Normally, I mention salt to taste and leave it at that. But here, I would like to specify that when working with minimal flavors such as in this case, take care not to under-salt it. It also goes along without saying that you shouldn’t over-salt it. Stir gently to mix, cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes till the broccoli softens just enough. Serve with rotis or as a side with rice and Bendi/dal/curry.

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Cauliflower Upkari (Cauliflower cooked with mustard seeds and whole chillies)

Cauliflower Upkari

When you are eating something as spicy and in-your-face (or should I say in-your-tongue) as Avre Bendi, the side dish has to be suitably subtle. Else, you risk having too many flavors, to enjoy any one of them. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Enter the upkari, the great konkani stir-fry.

This is just vegetables tempered with mustard seeds and dried red chillies cooked in a little water till done. Salt, of course and garnished with coconut gratings. If you have been following this blog, then you know by now that no konkani dish is finished without the addition of coconut gratings. After all, it is a coastal cuisine. Sugar or jaggery is added depending upon how bland or bitter the vegetable used is. However, with cauliflower, none is needed.

So on to the upkari….

1 cauliflower chopped into florets

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 dried whole chillies or a pinch of chilli flakes

salt

1 tbsp Coconut Gratings

Heat up oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. After they sputter, add the chillies/flakes and the cauliflower florets. Add salt, a little water. Cover and cook till the florets soften and water dries out.

Very simple and very delicious. Just a few things to be careful about. Add very little water since cauliflower cooks very fast and releases water during cooking. Don't overcook the vegetables. Just soften them enough and they are good to go. They go wonderfully with any spicy curry. In konkani cuisine, they are usually made to go with curry using beans or legumes and there, you have a complete meal….