Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

One of the many awesome cookbooks that my mother-in-law has given me is The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes and the first recipe I tried out of this was the Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes. Now one note about this cookbook: a lot of the recipes require some unique spices, but I've found that if your local grocery store doesn't have what is needed, try You're definitely going to need to stock up on some standard Indian spices like garam masala, which is in almost every recipe. Also, a lot of the recipes call for saffron, which can be really expensive.  In the introduction, it says, "For decades, saffron was the world's most expensive spice by weight."  I found it prohibitively expensive in my local grocery store, but Trader Joe's has it at a much more reasonable price, so check there.  I actually have avoided the saffron recipes so far because I didn't get it until recently, so you'll have to wait for any of the recipes that use saffron.

The recipe is pretty easy to make once you've chopped all the ingredients.  You'll need to cut up the cauliflower, potato, onion, tomato, fresh ginger, garlic, and peppers (Thai, serrano, or cayenne). The spices in this recipe include cumin, red chile powder, garam masala, salt, and turmeric, with a little bit of vegetable or canola oil. As most people who read this blog regularly know, I didn't add the salt.

You mix the ingredients all together and then cook the cauliflower on low for three hours. The recipe recommends mixing it once during cooking: "Mix once or twice during cooking, especially in the beginning. Eventually the cauliflower will release enough liquid to prevent anything from sticking to the sides of the slow cooker."

This is what the dish looked like before I turned it on.

And this is what it looked like after cooking.

As you can see in the picture above, you mix in some chopped cilantro. The recipe suggests serving this dish "with roti or naan and a side of onion and cucumber salad."  As you can see from the picture to the left and below, I served it over basmati rice, the naan you can get from Trader Joe's, and a salad. This was a really good recipe, but I made it too spicy.  I didn't get all the seeds out of the peppers so it ended up super spicy. Obviously it wouldn't have been as spicy if I had taken all the seeds out.  But, I thought it was still good.

The good thing about this dish is that it makes a lot of servings.  This cookbook doesn't give you any approximation about the servings, but rather how many cups of food you make. This recipe makes 7 cups.  I ate it for a while, however, so I'm going to estimate that I got 8 servings out of it for the purposes of my calculation. In terms of calories, the cauliflower dish by itself is only about 122 calories per serving.  I'd estimate rice at between 100 and 150 calories (depending on how much you serve -- 1/2 cup is about 100 calories, but people often serve themselves more) and the Trader Joe's naan is 190 calories per piece. So the total (not counting the salad) is about 412 to 462 calories per meal.  This one really keeps the calories down for those days when you spend the entire day in the library and no time in the gym!

For cost per serving, the real bulk of the cost is getting some of the spices that you may not normally have on hand. My grocery receipt included cumin ($2.99), red chile powder ($7.99), garam masala ($4.49) and turmeric ($3.29) -- basically all the spices needed for this recipe. The first time you cook from this book you'll be spending a bit more to get the spices, but subsequent recipes will cost less per serving because you'll already have the spices on hand.  For everything you need for the recipe, I estimated about $4.34 per serving (I only paid $3.54 per serving, but I didn't have enough naan to serve every time). If you already have the spices it would only be $2.00 per serving (and keep in mind, I included the rice and naan in this calculation) and only $1.44 with the things that I already had on hand!  So basically, you could feed yourself for over a week with this meal at only $2.00 per meal!  Really helpful for those of us on a grad school budget!

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