Bollywood Cooking: Punjabi Aloo Gobi – Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Alu Gobi (02) by MeetaK 

One of the staple dishes at our house, while growing up, was the wonderful yet simple dish of aloo gobi - gently sautéed cauliflower and potatoes tossed in a aromatic melange of spices. It's certainly has got to be one of the most popular Punjabi vegetarian dishes, which rose to international fame in Gurindar Chaddha’s cult film Bend It Like Beckham. The film does not need any introduction as I am sure almost everyone has seen it.

A few months back my boss, Prof. TS, watched the film and became a fan. The following day he asked me if the Punjabi family - the Bhamras - embodied my family back at home! I had to laugh because it does not get more clichéd than that!

However, there is a certain truth in each cliché and I do remember my grandmother's (nani) credence was very similar to the unreasonable demands Jessminder's family put on her in the film.

Good Punjabi girls are not supposed to run around in skimpy shorts running after a ball, instead she should be charming, shy, dressed decently and know how to cook good down-to-earth Punjabi food. After all she has to fulfill her one purpose in life - marry well and cook a good aloo gobi for her husband. At the age of 15-18 I defied all of these clichéd notions with intrepidity. Luckily for me, my grandfather was mostly on my side!

Nani and I would often banter affectionately:
"Meeta stop running around half naked! Swimming, water-skiing - this not something for young ladies- beti" (Beti = daughter)
"But Nani I am on the swim team - I can hardly wear a salwar kameez in the pool!"
"Swim team, swim team! Forget the swim team. Has your mother taught you how to make dal or aloo gobi yet?"
"No nani - I am 16 I do not need to learn how to make all that Indian stuff!"
"All that Indian stuff? Ahaha, look here - angrez di puther - you are not only Indian but you are a Punjabi and you will learn how to make aloo gobi!" (angrez di puther = daughter of an English man)
"Not now Nani - I have to go to swim practice!"

From behind us I hear my Nana sigh.
"Gurcharan - leave the girl alone. If she does not go to swim practice how can she save the life of her drowning husband? She can hardly throw a life saving aloo gobi at him!"

That was my cue to freedom. With a quick hug and a wet kiss on his white bearded cheek I winked at my nana and left for swim practice.

Alu Gobi (03) by MeetaK

Things change. Sadly, both my nana and nani are no longer here with us. I did learn how to make an aloo gobi. I can save my husband should he ever be drowning and feed him that damn good Punjabi aloo gobi too!

Recipe: Punjabi Aloo Gobi – Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Printable version of recipe here.

450g russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
450g cauliflower, cut into small-medium sized florets
400g canned diced tomatoes
200g frozen peas
5-6 inches long ginger, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil or ghee


  1. In a large skillet heat the ghee or canola oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and gently stir-fry until they begin to turn golden, approx. 1 minute.

  2. Lower the heat, add the potatoes, garam masala, turmeric and a pinch of salt. Carry on stir-frying until the spices cook and begin to smell fragrant – approx. 2-3 minutes.

  3. Add the cauliflower and toss to incorporated with the spices, then pour in the diced tomatoes. Stir once or twice, cover and allow to simmer over a medium heat for approx. 30-35 minutes. Stir occasionally. The vegetables should be tender but still firm.

  4. Add the peas about 10 minutes before the cooking time is completed and gently stir
  5. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve with hot rotis or naans.

Kitchen Tips:

  • Once you have cut your potatoes into cubes, place them in a bowl of cold water. This will prevent the potatoes from turning brown. When you are ready to use, drain the water and pat dry with a few paper towels.

  • Need for speed: use a bag of frozen cauliflower florets instead. Do not thaw them just add them to the skillet and proceed as directed.



Alu Gobi (01) by MeetaK

I miss both the pillars in my life. My nana and nani were two opposites but both enriched my life in ways only grandparents can. I think my nani would have relished this aloo gobi. It is adapted from my mother's recipe who taught me how to make the dish after my nani passed away. It is typically made the Punjabi way - dry and with not much gravy. The cauliflower is tender and the potatoes hold their shape in the dish. The medley of spices bring an extraordinary highlight and the turmeric gives the dish a sunny yellow color.


More Bollywood Cooking from WFLH:

OkraIndian 04 framed AchaariAloo 02 framed Paneer Frankies 01 framed
Spicy Okra with Onions Aachari Alu - Potatoes in Mango Chutney Sauce Vegetable Paneer Frankies with Mango Chutney

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  1. Love that story :) This is a dish I often order and haven't yet tried to make. Thanks for recipe Meeta. :)

  2. Oh, two of my favorite vegetables in one awesome dish! It looks fabulous and wonderfully flavorful!



  3. This is a lovely recipe. I have always wanted to try when I heard about it for the first time last year.

    The spices sound amazing and potatoes are my favorite food of all time.

  4. What a very funny story Meeta! I love aloo absolute favourite.

  5. Aloo Gobi certainly is a staple recipe. If I ate potatoes more often, I'd be cooking it once a week. Lovely version you present here.

  6. Can relate with this one!! I guess every Indian girl has had to listen to this one time or the other:) I love aloo gobi too!

  7. So typical, but such a sweet conversation..:-) I don't think I can imagine life without aloo gobi. today my hubby made aloo gobi for me, in a very bengali way & he is not a bong!

  8. This looks wonderful! And I love the shortcut of using frozen cauliflower - yum!

  9. A lovely post, Meeta. It says such a lot of who you are and what you believe in. I have never tried this recipe, but it looks so deliciously aromatic!!!

  10. A lovely read... I'm still laughing at some bits. :)

    We love aloo gobhi :) yours looks delish... but tell me, are tose peas in the picture? I didn't see any peas mentioned in the recipe... but its a good idea to throw some in :)

  11. Loved the post!!I think Aloo gobi has become synonymous with BILB,;-).I've been trying to recreate "the punjabi aloo gobi" in my kitchen since long.Shall try out this recipe..!!!

  12. With Simple Spices, you made them so wonderfull!

  13. One of our favourites too, and yes, we too add those peas :-)

  14. Thank you for all your great comments and I love the story myself. It brought up so many memories. Glad I could share it with you.

    Raaga, you've got sharp eyes!! Yes those are peas and thanks for reminding me that they were missing in the recipe instructions! LOL!

  15. Looks delicious! I made few times spicy cauliflower with curry and potatoes and peas... I wonder if that is what I was trying to make, because looks very similar. I must find my Vegetarian Indian cookbook to look at the original name of the dish.
    Enjoy your day Meeta... spring came also to us here in London, birds singing, flowers start coming out from the ground, but still very cold, about 5 degrees only.

  16. Lovely story :)

    I personally adore your Bollywood Cooking posts. You should post even more about Indian food. I can get enough :)

  17. Love the story and I am still laughing at the bits.The dish is perfect.Love aloos and this combi is very classic and anytime preferable :)

  18. BEYOND lovely dish and accompanying story, Meeta!!

  19. Mmmmmmm, strange but this is almost exactly how we do it too. I always thought Punjabi Aloo-Gobi had onions.

    Looks lovely for words and this IS a life saver ;-)

  20. It looks so tasty...I love the spices in it!

  21. I guess most of us have nana nanis (or dada dadis) like yours.

    Aloo Gobi, in its many versions, is a regular at our table, as my daughter loves cauliflower.

  22. Thank you for that recipe, it looks delicious! I would like to make this myself, but before I do I have a question. Can the koriander leaves in this dish be ommited or replaced?

    I am one of those people who dislike it. The first time I had koriander leaves in a chinese stir-fry, I didn't even know koriander existed, let alone that I was eating it at that moment. But I honestly thought they had accidently dropped bits of soap in that dish!
    Since then I have tried it many times in hopes of aquiring a taste for it, but it doesn't seem to happen for me. It still find the taste soapy.

    So do you have a suggestion for me, what could be used instead?

  23. wow...this looks something..i'd love to try..thanks for the recipe..uphere in U.S. i always have a hard time to find ingredients..thanks to my friend who introduced me to a great resource and i thought that i pass great along as well.

  24. Such a cute story! :) I had Alu Gobi for lunch!

  25. this looks really lovely meeta - perfect for a vegetarian treat!

  26. This is such a lovely post and I love this veggie dish. I can't wait to give this a try. So much flavor!

  27. I have seen many many recipes for this but with a heart-warming story like this I am sure to love yours best!!!!!!

    It makes me miss my Poppa!

  28. Beautiful story. I too miss my grandparents, even though I'm sure they didn't understand some of the very American things I wanted to do when I was young.

  29. Lovely post and the aloo gobi is gorgeous!

  30. I love Indian flavors, and your pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  31. HeHe! Your life runs parallel to "Bend it like Beckam" too! She did play in football in the end! :)

    Aloo Gobi Matar is my fave, easy to make and yummy. Looks delicious!

  32. love aloo gobi.....its the first recipe that comes to my mind whn i buy gobi.....and i totally loved ur any plans to write a book meeta????it sure will be a sell out!


  33. It may be a cliche, but there is something very very unique about Aloo Gobhi cooked by a Punjabi - other versions cooked by non Punjabi people just don't seem to cut it.
    I used to always think that maybe there is a secret recipe which is only passed on from mother to daughter :)

    Thanks for sharing the recipe and the lovely story!


  34. Thats a very cute story...Punjabis or not, every Indian must have had similar experiences with our elders:)...
    Aloo Gobi looks perfect.

  35. Yum. I made a similar dish with curry and coconut milk. I think it was too heavy. This sounds better. I'll try it!

  36. What a lovely post Meeta and how wise your grandfather was (lol). However the same notions fit with grandparents in Greece and Cyprus, as the girls should get married, have children and be good housewives and of course know how to cook.

  37. Thanks everyone! Yes this one has no onions instead the combination of ginger and garlic are perfect to make in aromatic and delicious. My mother never put onions in her Aloo Gobi.
    Glad you are all liking this!

  38. Stefanie - Yes - substitute the coriander leaves with flat leaved parsley - it won't be the exact flavor but it does a good job of substituting the coriander leaves. Or you could be daring and try some thai basil!

  39. "She can hardly throw a life saving aloo gobi at him" - brilliant!!

    I fell in love with aloo gobi here in London, where all the curry houses serve it. I like it the way you've made it, without too much gravy.

    Love your story, which proves a girl CAN have it all!

  40. Looks wonderful, Meeta. Definitely a staple in my kitchen. I love it when the cauliflower remains slightly crunchy.

  41. Meeta, aloo gobi is one of our favorite dishes, and I make it at least every two weeks or so. I tried roasting the cauliflower and aloo in the oven last time...didn't quite turn out right but I'm working on perfecting it because the cauliflower holds up so nicely when roasted. Lovely story you shared :)

  42. Meeta, what a hilarious anecdote!! I love it, and would've loved to meet your grandfather and grandmother! I love indian food; I used to live in Sinagpore for most of my life, and up o today when I go back to visit I always have the roti prata with curry chicken. Punjabi food is probably different from that, since I understand that Indian regional cuisine varies in taste and characteristic, but I still get very inspired by the Indians' deft and expert use of spices. I have to try this sometime!!

  43. Sounds like you got the best of both worlds! Great story and recipe!

  44. Dear Meeta,

    You must share Punjabi recipes regularly, please! There must be several variations to this humble, everyday affair. This particular one with ginger and garlic seasoned first in oil is a show-stopper. We loved it with rice. I would like to know if some cauliflowers are slightly bitter by nature. Mine were!! How does one treat a bitter cauliflower?

  45. Thanks for the delicious recipe. I am living in Germany, where you can't get too much good Indian, and I've been CRAVING aloo gobi. Made it last night and it was a success.

  46. Oh I am loving the fact you all like the recipe here! thank you for all the feedback.

    Latha, the best way to treat cauliflower is to wash it in warm salty water. a trick i learned from my MIL! So glad you liked it! I really do love your feedback ;-)

  47. Hi Meeta, First time here. Lovley blog. Enjoyed reading. Aloo Gobi is inviting. Awesome click.

  48. HI Meeta, you have an amazing site! I don't know where you find the time to do all that you do, what's your secret? I made this dish and it was just as good as anything I've ordered. Thanks for the awesome recipes you post.

  49. That seems like a great recipe Meeta! Do you make your own garam masala or use store bought?

  50. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. At first I was sceptical about using a whole six inches of ginger. But I tried it and it really works great.

  51. Awesome. This will be a staple in our
    "cook once a week Indian" family cook plan! I found a good recipe for Garam Masala substitute, since we live where you can't buy it. Hope it's authentic:

    1 tablespoon cumin seeds

    1 tablespoon coriander seeds

    2 teaspoons black peppercorns

    12 cardamom pods

    8 whole cloves

    1 2-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces

    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


    1. Place cumin, coriander, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in a skillet over medium-high heat.
    2. Cook until spices start to smoke and become aromatic. Constantly shake skillet for about 5 minutes then stir in nutmeg.
    3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
    4. Place toasted spices in a spice or cleaned out coffee grinder and grind until finely ground.
    5. Store in an airtight container.

  52. Just made this tonight Meeta - but without the potato (as we were having other carbs) aloo gobi without the aloo! It's a great recipe - quick and simple and much tastier than many I've tried.

  53. What a wonderful story and the recipe looks great.

  54. I knew I could count on you for a good recipe of aloo gobi... The husband has been requesting this after sampling his colleagues lunch. So I'm gonna try out this tonight :)

  55. I made this, Meeta! We had it with hot chapatis. And it was fabulous! I followed ur recipe to the T except for adding a green chilli. I never knew that the combination of veggies such as this can result in such a comforting and yummy meal! Thank you.

  56. My college's dining hall is where I first fell in love with Aloo Gobi. Hoping to find an equally yummy substitute over Christmas break, I did a web search and stumbled onto your blog, and the rest is history. I'm happy to say that your recipe beat my college's, hands down! :)


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