Northern Indian vegetarian

You always hear about Southern Indian vegetarian – at least in New York – you know, dosai, iddly, sambar etc. It’s virtually been trademarked by the restaurants on lower Lexington who now all have rabbinical supervision and have gathered in the orthodox Jewish market. But of course vegetarianism exists all over India… the Vedic cookbook ‘Lord Krishna’s Cuisine’ if anything focuses on the north.

The dish pictured above is evocatively called ‘dry cauliflower’ and comes from Uttar Pradesh, the north-central part of India. The cauliflower flowerets are flash-fried in oil that’s been seasoned with whole spices, then steamed for about 5-10 minutes, covered, in the same pan, and finished with garam masala and amchoor (dried mango powder). The cauliflower is crisp and pungent, its own flavor still there but in contrast with the multiple spices and whole herbs from the cooking.

I served this with potatoes smothered with shallots, a southern recipe but one that almost could come from Pennsylvania or a similar northern state in the US. Potatoes are cut to thick old-style french-fry size and fried in butter (ghee); the shallots are fried in the remaining shortening; the potatoes come back and are steamed. The only condiments are salt and pepper (the prologue to the recipe says that green chilies are added in India, but I missed that, fortunately or unfortunately). The result was filling and plain; I liked it as a foil to the first dish.

Cauliflower by Madhur Jaffrey, potatoes by Julie Sahnee. Finger by Jesper.