I've currently got this thing about caulifower; in truth, it's developing into a bizarre craving. I'm not sure what it is exactly that I like about cauliflower. Is it the slightly peppery, mustardy flavour? Or the crunchiness of the stuff when it's slightly undercooked?
Aloo Gobi is the dish of the moment- potato is the aloo bit, and caulifower the gobi. It's a dry curry from Northern India, and easy to make; or at least, I thought it was until I tried using the recipe from Manju Malhi's otherwise excellent book, "Brit Spice".
I think I like this book: it's well laid out using decent, clear typography, has excellent photographs, and the cover shows a wholesome looking girl (presumably the author) chopping up some coriander. The blurb on the front cover (courtesy of The Guardian) says "Manju Malhi is being billed as the Next Madhur Jaffrey".
I followed Ms Malhi's instructions to the letter: tip half a teaspoon of cumin seeds into three tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil and fry for a few seconds. So far, so good. Next, you add a chopped onion, a peeled and diced potato and a chopped and seeded green chili and fry for five minutes, before adding 200g (7oz) of caulifower florets and stir-frying for a further thirty seconds.
Turmeric, coriander and salt are stirred in, and the dish is covered and cooked on a low heat for five minutes. Chopped tomato is folded in, and the aloo gobi is cooked, covered, for a further three minutes.
And the result? Delicious flavours, but both the potatoes and cauliflower remained severely undercooked. I realise "Brit Spice" is meant to be about modern, fast Indian cookery with a British twist: busy lives and all that; but this is taking fast food to extremes. Also, the cauliflower florets were too large, but that was my fault. I'm fine with the idea of keeping the caulifower crunchy, but undercooked potato ain't a good idea.
Sometimes I wonder if editors actually test the recipes they publish? I have a sneaky feeling that we could be looking at a typo here and the potato, onions and chili should be cooked for fifteen minutes at the start, and not five minutes, as published. The cooking time for the cauliflower could probably be increased by a further five minutes, too.
But it's an interesting question. How many recipes out there from well-known cookery writers are actually just plain wrong? I seem to remember reading about the famous case of Robert Carrier and his Chili Con Carne, when because of some misprint, thousands of eager cooks across the land spooned in five tablespoons of hot chili powder rather than four teaspoons, or whatever it was supposed to be. And this was in 1965 (or whenever it was), a time when most Britons thought garlic was the mark of The Beast.
Stangely, curry might now almost considered to be The National Dish.