Recipe: Potato and Cauliflower Curry (Aloo Gobi)

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17 Feb Recipe: Potato and Cauliflower Curry (Aloo Gobi)

If you look at my recipes index it’s hard to believe I used to do a lot of health writing. While I was supposed to be promoting a healthy lifestyle in others, opposing stats and studies nearly made me sick. One day I’d file an article declaring 7 cups of black coffee a day would ward off Type 2 diabetes, and wouldn’t you know it? The next morning a press release landed in my inbox railing against the evils of caffeine. Does cinnamon really help you lose weight or is it just rat poison with a nice smell? The contradictions were endless. Black coffee, green tea, white vegetables. Everyone had a theory and it was making me crazy.

Being somewhat gun shy, I hesitated to review Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD with Debora Yost. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get back to the kind of thinking that vilified or canonized a particular ingredient. But being a Gemini, and just as contradictory as the studies I dreaded, the first thing I did was look up cocoa so I could write a long persuasive post justifying all the dessert recipes I create (and gobble). I wanted to convince you that, despite the whipped cream and butter, chocolate mousse wasn’t just delicious, is was downright healthy. After all, according to studies, flavanol-loaded cocoa will:

• lower cholesterol •  lower blood pressure • boost circulation • thin blood • lower the risk of stroke • increase your chances of surviving a heart attack • feed your brain • make you smarter • help ward off wrinkles • soften skin and give you more endurance.

Just the kind of ammunition I was looking for to justify a diet of pure chocolate. The other part of me snorted in disgust and began browsing spices.

While Healing Spices is all about the health benefits of spices, Aggarwal and Yost take a balanced approach. They don’t suggest you sprinkle pomegranate seeds on every entree and slip horseradish into unsuspecting side dishes. Instead, the authors’ encourage you to use health-promoting spices — and enjoy the results from your taste buds to your toes.  “Don’t be intimidated,” they implore. “That a recipe contains a lot of spices doesn’t necessarily mean the recipe is hard to make, time -consuming, or firey-hot.” My sentiments exactly.

Even though the book covers a wide range of studies, you won’t be poked in the belly with stats or hit in the face with a pie chart. Bulleted lists lighten information overload, with all findings delivered in an easy-to-read style. Although mighty turmeric (Wordless Wednesday’s mystery spice) receives almost a dozen pages, the enthusiastic writing style makes you want to cook. Looking to combat a particular ailment? Head to page 294 where the handy 13-page chart, From Arthritis to Ulcers, provides at-a-glance information on the condition, healing spice(s) and therapeutic use.

The impatient practical-minded can skip the research and dive right into the shopping, cooking tips and recipes. While my wonky thumb is thrilled to learn ginger will help ward off arthritis, my mouth is drawn to the two dozen homemade spice mixes. I expected Garam Masala and Jamaican Jerk, but Chesapeake  Bay Seafood Seasoning? Creative cooks will love the spice blending chart while the time-strapped will appreciate the chart on substitutions.

So, for those who are hungry, here’s a healthy, cancer-fighting dish bursting with anti-oxidants. Enjoy — but don’t eat to much. You want to save room for dessert.

Do studies influence how you cook? Have you ever added or removed an ingredient from your diet as a result of reading a study? If so, did it make a difference or is it back in your diet again?

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10 Comments
  • cheryl
    Posted at 12:38h, 18 February Reply

    Gorgeous photo and recipe. The pitfalls of health writing ring especially true with me, so thank you for putting words to the contradictions.

    Now I’m off to drink an especially strong mug of antioxidant-and-caffeine-laced black tea.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:00h, 18 February Reply

      Glad to know I’m not the only writer who gets befuddled by the contradictions of research. I swear, if I hear the term “superfood” one more time I’ll scream.

      Think I could use a nice cuppa myself.

  • Mama Kelly aka Jia
    Posted at 18:34h, 18 February Reply

    I love aloo gobi and this one looks like it would be seasoned just right!! Plus the book you reviewed is right up my alley in that it both touches on the healing properties of the spices and gives recipes for homemade spice blends. Thank you

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:14h, 19 February Reply

      I started making my own garam masala last year and can’t believe how easy and tasty it is. I’m definitely going to be making my own blends more often. Next up? Likely Thai curry pastes.

      Now off to check out your Thai Mushroom Stir Fry — love mushrooms, love Thai. Sounds like a perfect dish for me.

  • Jenny
    Posted at 10:49h, 19 February Reply

    I just love the composition and the contrast of colors in the first photo, and the aloo gobi looks fantastic! You’re right, Healing Spices does sound a little more balanced than the typical trendy information you can find in most “nutrition” articles. I’m glad I found your site!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:30h, 20 February Reply

      Thanks. I’m glad you like the site.

      I was so pleased that the book spent as much time of cooking as it did on health. Even if new studies come out, the buying, storing and blending advice never goes out of date.

      Happy cooking.

  • Sally - My Custard Pie
    Posted at 11:29h, 19 February Reply

    A varied diet and everything in moderation is my mantra with diet. I gave up tea for a few days once and then thought that life was too short to be without something I enjoy that much. Do you ever listen to the BBC food programme on podcast? Just heard a fascinating episode about milk (worth a listen) – we don’t know enough about this amazing and complex food to know whether the fat in it is bad for us or not. I think that is the same about most foods – plus there is a lot of marketing hype thrown in (e.g. blueberries = superfoods but so are blackcurrants but they have a short shelf life and are hard to transport). Sorry this is a very long comment so signing off with saying how lovely the pic with the pink background is. Gorgeous!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:35h, 20 February Reply

      Long comments are great! I appreciate you taking the time.

      And I couldn’t agree with you more. Moderation is key. I interviewed a doctor once who said a client of hers read that Earl Grey tea was good for you and couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t feeling well when he added it to his diet. Turns out he was drinking 15 cups a day.

      And don’t get me started on superfoods! If I read one more article on acai berries I’m going to explode — and that can’t be good for my health.

      Enjoy your tea — in moderation :-)

  • Jonesta @ FiveCourse
    Posted at 20:30h, 20 February Reply

    Hi. How knew that delectable and creamy chocolate mousse could be so beneficial for ones health. My taste buds want more, please continue with great post like these. I really appreciate your research and attention to details.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:41h, 21 February Reply

      And to think I actually edited down the list of cocoa’s benefits. It’s quite amazing that one little bean can do so much.

      Turmeric is no shirk either. Nice to know that no matter what I pull from my spice rack, some body part will rejoice.

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