Aloo phoolkopir dalna with a special twist
Here is why I love making cottage cheese(Bengali "chana" / Hindi "paneer) at home. Not only does it result in the softest and tastiest cottage cheese you have the leftover whey which adds such a magical touch to other dishes or even the cottage cheese gravy it makes things just extra delicious.
This time I made "Palak Paneer" (a creamy spinach based dish in which you have clarified butter sauteed homemade paneer) and the dish does not require any extra water and so there I was left with over 750ml of whey and was I unhappy . Oh No. I knew it would have a very very special special place.
So I decided on a cauliflower potato curry the day after making palak paneer and straightaway reached for the stored whey. Now one might wonder what is so special about "aloo gobi" or "aloo phulkopir dalna" . Here is why, the whey will add so much taste that going back to ordinary water based dalna would be impossible after this. so make this dish when you make cottage cheese from 1 litre full cream milk. It wouldn't taste the same with toned or skimmed milk.
What goes in :
1 big cauliflower head
1 potato (Now despite the great love affair that Bengalis have with potatoes I am not a fan and while i never leave out the great potato I use very little so that the thunder still belongs to the cauliflower)
750ml of whey which is gotten post making homemade cottage cheese
1 big bay leaf
Salt as per taste
1 medium sized tomato skinned and blend well
2 tsp ginger garlic chili paste made with 2 green chilies and 1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch of asafoetida
1 to 1.5 inch cinnamon
2 green cardamom
1 to 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter, its just not the real curry without the delicious aroma of clarified butter)
Mustard oil to saute the cauliflower and potato
2 slit green chilies
Sugar as per taste
Start by first chopping the potatoes in bite sized pieces and the cauliflower in little florets and then slit the back of the cauliflower florets as shown in the picture.
Make a paste of the ginger chili cumin and then the tomato separately . Now I know most people out there do not still use the slab of stone and the stone pestle "sil nora" for grinding but its just not the same with those electric appliances. So using a mortar and pestle has its own benefits of resulting in the smoothest of pastes with small amount of ingredients. make the tomato paste as well.
Start by first sauteing the cauliflower and potatoes and leave aside. Take 1 tsp clarified butter and add the asafoetida and cumin seeds, bay leaf , green cardamom and cinnamon . Once the seeds splutter immediately add the ginger chili cumin paste. This quick as a cat business is required so that the cumin does not burn. Add the tomato paste. Keep stirring to make the spice on medium heat till the raw tomato is completely cooked and blends well with the other spices. Add the potatoes and mix well. See potatoes take a longer time to cook and so in order to prevent the cauliflowers from over cooking the potato is first added and cooked halfway before adding the cauliflower. Add the whey before adding cauliflower and bring to a roaring boil and salt, turmeric and sugar and then simmer covered for sometime till the potatoes are half cooked and add the cauliflower and bring to a boil again and then simmer covered till the potatoes and cauliflower is cooked thoroughly, cook for a little extra time without the cover to dry up the gravy and then simply transfer everything in a bowl. In the same wok add to slit green chilies and 1 tsp to 2 tsp water and on medium flame quickly stir to get any stuck up spices and when it all but bubbles pour it over the vegetable curry. This makes sure the chilies preserve their green colour.
Being from the western part of erstwhile undivided Bengal I am naturally drawn to using a bit of extra sugar but adjust it as per taste.
This goes very well with hot steaming rice and even chapatis but I shall post another recipe which is thicker for those lovely puris called "luchis" made of all purpose flour with the reputation of being paper thin.
If you have children do please reduce the total number of chilies from 4 to 2 or even 1