Learn how to make Achaari Aloo Gobi ~ Vegan potato and cauliflower curry with pickling spices
My love for pickle is a talking point with my family and friends, so much so that I end up being a butt of their so-called ‘pickle’ jokes! I belong to the very rare group of species who can survive not tasting a piece of sugar-loaded sweetmeats for rest of their life but go berserk when a meal is served without a piece of pickle adorning the plate. So extending my love for pickle into a lip-smacking bowl of curry is one of the best ways to satisfy my never-ending cravings for something spicy and uplifting. Enter Achaari Aloo Gobi, a delicious and one of THE best vegan curries that you can make to jazz up even the most mundane meal.
The word ‘Achar’ means pickle in Hindi and this recipe of Achaari Aloo Gobi is built on the basic pickling spices; mustard, cumin, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, and red chilli which are prominently used in North Indian pickles. The touch of sourness comes from the amchur power which is a dried mango powder instead of vinegar which is used in most of the Punjabi pickles. This dish is how a pickle should be, spicy, astringent, and sour. Unlike the dry version of Achari Baingan or gravy based Achaari Paneer Curry, this Achaari Aloo Gobi Curry is semi-gravy based dish.
The secret to the best tasting curries is the spice powder used in making them. When more than 5 spices are used in making the masala powder, you got to make sure that the right quantity of spices are used so that one spice doesn’t overpower the other and they all blend harmoniously giving the curry that special aroma and flavour. Always choose the best quality and fresh spices which are packed with aroma and flavour. When roasting the spices, dry roast the spices on the lowest flame till their colour deepens and their perfume spread in my kitchen and teases your senses. This step needs your undivided attention and something you can’t rush into. If you get distracted or take your eyes away for a moment, they will burn and turn bitter and ruin the taste. It takes 2-3 minutes and just enjoy the therapeutic process of magic unfolding right in front of your eyes!
Preparing the pickle masala is probably the only thing in this recipe that needs your undivided attention as rest of the steps are a breeze! A little bit of chopping, grinding and stirring is all that is left to make this delicious bowl of Achari Aloo Gobi. This is one of those recipes that is easy and simple to cook but tastes unbelievably delicious with the perfect blend of spices. Served with a bowl of hot rice, ghee and dal or with rotis, it is one the most satisfying meal that will lift your spirit at any time of the year!
Achari Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and cauliflower in pickling gravy)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium
Serves: 5-6 people
Shelf Life: Best served fresh but can be refrigerated for up to 3 days
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flatbreads or with rice
1 medium cauliflower
2 large potatoes
2 medium onions
3 medium tomatoes
3 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp haldi/turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
1½ tbsp oil
Salt to taste
For achaari masala or pickling spices:
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 tsp saunf/fennel seeds
1 tsp ajwain/carom seeds
1 tsp kalonji/nigella seeds
¼ tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp dhania/coriander seeds
4-5 dry red chillies (as per taste)
1 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp hing/asafoetida
1 tbsp oil
- Prepare the achari masala or pickling spice mix by dry roasting cumin seeds, fennel seeds, carom seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and dry red chillies on low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the spices are golden brown. Please take care not to burn the spices as it will make the curry taste bitter. Transfer the roasted spices to bowl or plate and let it cool down to room temperature. Once the spices have cooled down, grind them to powder in a spice grinder or mixer grinder.
- Peel and finely chop onion, ginger and garlic. Finely chop the tomatoes and keep them aside until needed.
- Wash the cauliflower and separate the florets into bite-size pieces. Peel and dice the potatoes into large bite-size pieces.
Proceed to cook:
- Heat 1½ tbsp. oil in a pan and once hot, add the diced potatoes. Sauté them on medium heat for a minute. Add the cauliflower and mix it well.
- Sprinkle turmeric powder and salt to taste and give it a good stir to make sure that the spice is coated well. Cover the pan and cook for 5-7 mins or until the vegetables are cooked through by stirring in intervals. Transfer the vegetables onto a plate and keep it aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp. oil in the same pan and add mustard seeds and hing. When mustard seeds sizzle and splutter, add finely chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Add sugar and a pinch of salt and sauté on medium heat until the onions turn golden brown, about 3 mins. The sugar helps to caramelise the onions and the salt speeds up the cooking.
- Add achari masala and sauté for a minute before adding finely chopped tomatoes. Sauté until the tomatoes turn pulpy and release their juice, about 3-4 mins.
- Crush the kasuri methi and add to the masala. Add about 1½-2 cups of water and bring the gravy to boil. Add the dry mango powder and mix well.
- Mix in potatoes and cauliflower to coat them well with the masala. Taste and add little more salt if needed. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Open the lid and mix in finely chopped coriander leaves before turning off the heat. Cover and let it rest for 10-15 minutes for all the flavours to blend. Serve this delicious Achaari Aloo Gobi with rice or roti with dal and enjoy!
- I usually add a pinch of salt and sugar when sautéing onions. The salt will speed up the cooking process and the sugar will help in caramelising the onions.
- Add little more sugar if you like mild flavour to balance the heat from pickling masala.
- When roasting the spices, do take care to roast them on low flame continuously as burnt spices will make the curry taste bitter.