Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chaal Kopi ~ a Cauliflower Dish

I have a tough life you know. After I have done my days share and fed the kid, read to her and am almost dozing off to sleep, she nudges me.
“Hmmmmmm”, I say
“Do you know what I want to be when I grow up?” the little one chirps.
I have no clue and this is not a good time to discuss career options I think, but who am I to decide anything

“I want to be a Painter, a Doctor, the One with the Hammer and also the Cleaning lady” she says very enthusiastically

Interesting combo I think and why not, this is a free country let her be whatever she wants to

“That’s nice”, I say and shut my eyes tighter only to be nudged again

“What do you want to be when You grow up?” she questions

I am being given a second chance here and what I really want to be is a billionaire lazing in a private island and enjoying good food and blogging about my high-falutin life maybe.
But that’s not what you tell a kid if you are the mother

“Painter”, I say deciding on a safer option
“But I am already going to be a Painter”, she argues
“Then You decide” I say, hoping to resolve the problem quickly

“You can be the Base Ball Player”, she suggests
Not my cup of tea that, so I say “But I don’t know to play Base Ball”

“You just have to wear a white cap and hit a ball with a bat, it’s easy, you can do it if you try” she says very knowledgeably

So I dream of how famous I am going to be hitting that ball and doze off to sleep thinking of Fame, Fortune and Fulkopi. Fulkopi in Bengali, Cauliflower in English and Gobi in Hindi that's G for Nupur’s “A – Z of Indian Vegetables” this week. Now don’t ask me why Fame & Fortune led me to dream of Fulkopi, ask Freud.

Chaal Kopi Or Cauliflower cooked in spices with a smattering of Rice is a very tasty and different dish. The rice is just that little bit and it’s the Cauliflower that dominates the taste. This recipe is from my Bengali Recipe Book and my Ma never made this. The dish is dry and goes well with rice or Chapati.


Chaal Kopi ~ Cauliflower cooked in spices with a smattering of rice

What You Need

Cauliflower ~ 1 cut into large sized florets. The large is the key here, do not chop into small fine pieces else they will turn mushy, see the pic.
Potato (optional)  ~ 1 large cut into large longitudinal pieces
Tomato ~ 1 medium chopped into small pieces, you can also used canned whole tomatoes
Green Chillies ~ 3 chopped or slit
Green Peas ~ 1/3 cup

For Masala
Cumin Powder ~ 1 tsp
Ginger paste ~ 1" grated
Turmeric Powder ~ 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1/2 tsp 
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp to sprinkle at the end

For Phoron or Tempering

Tej Pata or Bay Leaves ~ 2
Elaichi or Cardamom ~ 4
Cinnamon sticks ~1" thin stick
Dry Red Chili - 2 Dry
Coarsely bruise the above Whole Garam Masala

Basmati Rice ~ 1/3 cup soaked in water
Peanuts ~ 1/3 cups
Raisins ~ 10/15

Sugar ~ 1/2 tsp
Ghee ~ 1 tsp

How I Did It

Chop the cauliflower in florets as shown in pic
Chop potatoes and dunk in water, chop tomatoes & green chillies real small. 
Heat Oil in Kadhai/Frying Pan
Sauté the cauliflower florets with a little turmeric and salt till they take on a light golden hue. Remove and keep aside
Sauté the potatoes till they too turn a light golden and remove and keep aside
Sauté the rice and the peanuts and when you get that nice smell, remove and keep aside
To the hot oil add the phoron i.e. the Bay Leaves, Cardamom, Cinnamon Sticks (coarsely bruisely the cardamom & cinnamon sticks) 
When they start sputtering add the tomatoes & green chillies and sauté till the tomatoes are well done and are mushy
Add the Cumin Powder, Red Chili Powder and the Ginger paste and fry the masala till you see the oil separating from the masala
Add the peas and potatoes and mix well. Next, add the cauliflower florets and mix well so that the masala coats all the veggies
Now add the rice and the peanuts and mix
Add salt and ½ tsp of sugar and the raisins
Add water. I added about 1 and ½ cup to start with. Basically the veggies etc. should be partly immersed in the water, as they along with the rice need to be cooked. But since you do not want the cauliflower to overcook, be careful with the water and start with less to be cautious
Cook covered on medium heat and check in between, if needed add a little more water
Check to see that rice, and the veggies are cooked. If done add ½ tsp of Ghee. The recipe called for 1 tsp but I added only ½ tsp
The end result should be dry but do not overcook to dry off the water, so I again reiterate add water consciously
Sprinkle a little Garam Masala Powder if the cauliflower is not the freshest one and has a slightly pungent smell

Note for the Busy Mom: If you are cooking on a busy weekday, cut all the vegetables in this recipe before hand as in the previous day when you have no cooking chores. Remember to soak chopped potatoes in water else they develop a ugly black spot

Trivia:This dish has a prominent role in the movie Bend It Like Beckham—the film's DVD contains a featurette titled How to cook Aloo gobi., with the film's director making the dish. This led to the pickup line 'Why cook aloo gobi, when you can Bend It Like Beckham".


  1. So is this like a whole meal instead of a side dish?

  2. Oh thats a unique combination to add rice in cauliflower curry...sounds interesting..

    loved to read your chit chat with your little one :-)

  3. Yes, that's my dream too - billions, blogging, travelling!

  4. Apart from the rice, I tend to make this dish in very much the same way...

  5. so are u gonna become a baseball player? he he he...
    aloo gobi is something which is very close to my heart. coz this is the first thing i learned and cooked w/o any guidance from ma:)

  6. Oh the little ones, everything amazes them so. Billions and blogging have a nice ring together.
    Chaal Kopi looks tasty, I cook this dish too but minus a lot of ingredients, have to try it this way.

  7. Inji
    Funny, but this is supposed to be a side dish. The rice is very little compared to the rest

    Thanks :)

    Ha, ha same dreams ;-)

    Yeah even I never added rice until I saw this in the book, but the rice and the peanuts make it a bit different

    I love Gobi in all forms

    Try it sometimes. I do it ususally when I have friends over for dinner and everyone is bored with the standard alu-gobi

  8. Looks delicious!Kobi or Gobi!!
    Your write up was hilarious.For the life of me,I don't understand why people think having loads of money makes them happy!!!Doing what you LOVE is the only way to happiness.
    Being a painter is great as long as your hubby is willing to feed ya!;D

  9. rice and that's interesting, I have always liked the use of ginger with cauliflower,they just go so well together. Loved the writeup of the dialog between mum and daughter even more!

    i just read your comment....I know there was a realllllly good Gujarati restaurant called "jhupdi" in NJ, they served authentic Gujju food..and you sit on the floor...atleast they used to do do..not sure now. Haven't been there in a while.
    I was in NJ in September for a coupleof days,but only had a chance to go to the Hakka Noodle place,on Okat tree road and "Shabri" at Royal Albert Palace.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Right now I am imagining the probability of a newspaper title, " Bong Mom makes it to the Baseball Selection " :)))) I am always excited to read ur write-up :) Dish looks very tempting, adding rice to the cauliflower was something new.


  11. your posts are wonderful. your daughter will read them as an adult and marvel at what a great, creative mom she has.

  12. Your girl just sounds like a real darling! :) Does she get to eat all this lovely food you prepare? Hmm, peanuts in this dish? Sounds like an original home recipe! Have a good weekend!

  13. Loved your write-up. Baseball-tazeball chaado you should seriously consider a having a column in some newspaper!
    Chaal Kopi India-te 2-3 baar kheyechi, but have never had it at home. Shall surely try it sometime.

  14. Hey Sandeepa
    Wonderful write-up, So how is the selection going one for leauge matches;).
    Chaal Kopi is really interesting and looks delcious. Everything is there in the fridge and pantry and hubby is there to experiment:D.

  15. Asha
    Hee, hee...yeah should convince the hubby

    Been to "Jhupdi" nice place. I don't like the food at Royal AP, had been for a B'day, food was awful

    Its easy you see I only gotta try :)

    That's so sweet of you unless of course Blogger loses them all or someone lifts them and you don't know "who copied from whom" ;-)

    My daughter is not an adventurous foodie yet, she likes to stick to what she knows, only if its non-veg she is eager to try all kinds :)

    ha, ha...iarki(sp??) hochche :)

    Almost there :) If you try it let me know

  16. Adding rice to a subji is completely novel. Is this a traditional dish?

  17. Hi sandeepa oops... sorry a becoming great base ball player....hee heee..
    Ur kid is looking very enthusiastic..isn't it?any way all the best to u..:-D
    chall kopi..i have nevr heard of this dsih.looking interesting!!

  18. Hi Sandeepa, out of the mouths of babes, hmm? Your daughter is wise beyond her years :)

    Chaal kopi sounds delicious -- raisins and nuts too? Yum! I often toss a little rice in with dal to make a one pot meal (otherwise I tend to eat too much rice!). I will definitely have to try this. Thanks! :)

  19. great post and lovely have a great perspective I think...makes us parents to rethink again sometimes...~smile~...thanks for sharing....

  20. oh Sandeepa, your post makes me chuckle ... my husband wondering why I kept smiling in front of pc... The chaal kopi looks real easy to prepare, and delcious!!!

  21. Nice conversation between mum and daughter!I love hearing about kids' dreams.Have to agree with Linda about your daughter being wise beyond her years.I hope she attains all her are a great mom,sandeepa.

    Never heard of cooking cauliflower and rice together as a side dish.My mom makes gobi bhath but the rice amount is more,so it is more like gobhi pulao.will have to try this dish.Hugs to your ambitious little one:)

  22. Interesting conversation with your kiddo...ha ha.sandeepa,veggie dish looks awesome,seems like a dry dish .

  23. What a nice dish that makes! I can't imagine a side dish with rice in it but am sure it adds a nice texture and flavor to it, esp with the peanuts.
    Kids are so much fun, aren't they? I loved reading about your little one's ambitions! Not too varied at all! :) Give her my hugs!
    Hey, thanks for inquiring about me, Sandeepa! Life has been a little hectic and is about to get worse! My in-laws left today, M started with daycare last week and office has suddenly become a crazy workplace with a huge project coming up and we being short staffed in my team. I have been check all my favorite blogs though I haven't been leaving comments. I get a few minutes here & there and try to up-to-date with all my blogger buddies in that time. I've been to Penang in Edison and liked the food there but it is always crowded and we had to wait each time. Looks like the W Windsor one is a better bet. Talking of bets, I hope your AC trip went very well casino-wise! Love your sense of humor, S! :)
    Will be stopping by again soon but you may not come to know that till my next comment (it looks like a post, sorry!)!

  24. I look forward to reading your write-ups, more than getting to the recipe itself!! I think you should write a book - besides being a good cook, you are a brilliant story-teller!!:)

  25. Loved reading your post Sandeepa...:)
    Godi with rice that a good combo have to give it a try...thanks for the recipe.

  26. Hey Sandeepa, All the best for your new career. I loved reading the dialog between you and your little one. When I once asked my 5 year old what he would like to be when he grows up (And that was when he was 3 yrs old)he gave me a puzzled look and said "When I grow up I'll still be Devashish, won't I?" Innocence is so touching, isn't it?

  27. Finally a food blog I can rely on....BTW I love this dish, I would like to try your version. Tempting dish and wonderful write up.

    Keep posting Bong recipes.:-)

  28. Hilarious post, yeah that's what I want to be when I grow up too... (not the baseball player, the billionare one):D. Yuur daughter is such a clever little girl huh? Cutie pie does have everything figured out..
    Great recipe for aloo gobi, and a nice collection of recipes you have.

  29. All of You

    Thanks so much for your kind words and appreciating the write up :)

  30. that was such a cute chat!! my Son has not yet started asking me questions!! else OH LORD I will need lot of energy to reply back.


  31. Hmm. i like the name.. sounds like chaalu gobi..

  32. Sandeepa, believe me the same conversation occurs with my 4 yr old son too. Infact, he wants to be a "repairer, policeman, super hero, batman and a doctor" -:)[well, the list keep changing] and when he asks me what I would want to be when I grow up, my answer always is "I just want to be your mamma". But he never accepts that answer each time he asks me.:)

    Chaal Kopi is an interesting recipe with rice. I love cauliflower esp when cooked in the right way. I'd like to try this sometime. Bookmarked!

  33. Sharmi
    Just wait till he does :)

    ha , ha..:) :) thats what I am going to serve it as then

    That was a good answer, let me try that next time :)

  34. Sandeepa,

    My bong friends always made the best cauliflower dishes. Wondered what secret ingredients went into it :-)

    Your daughter is adorable. Little girls rock!!


  35. Hi Sandeepa,
    Dish looks great!!!!

  36. Hey, read that quip - why cook aloo gobi, when you can bend it like Beckham...Is the recipe really featuring in this movie and why? I have seen the movie but missed this. The cauliflower florets look amazing. An interesting and well detailed recipe!

  37. Hey Pritya
    Welcome to my blog

    This recipe here is a Bengali Recipe and is NOT "Alu Gobi"

    The trivia is not directly from the movie "Bend It Like Beckham" but from WIKI:

    This dish has a prominent role in the movie Bend It Like Beckham—the film's DVD contains a featurette titled How to cook Aloo gobi., with the film's director making the dish. This led to the pickup line 'Why cook aloo gobi, when you can Bend It Like Beckham".

  38. Hi Sandeepa,
    Adding rice to a curry is new to me. Pictures are tempting me to try it out..
    Loved ur writeup..

  39. it sure looks beautiful
    i hardly do curries with cauliflower

  40. Hello Sandeepa,
    The write-ups are great and so are the recipes!!I really like the heart-to-heart experiences that you make a point to put in before each recipe.Makes us feel so bonded to you somehow.
    I tried out this recipe of yours and it was an instant hit with my family!I make it a point to cook this on very special occasions as well.Thank you so much for the delectable recipes and the enjoyable read!Kudos!:)

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Hi, liked your recipe immensely...I used to have a cook-book ..I forgot the name of the book, but the author was Shotorupa, the book had this recipe. Lost the book in one of my numerous shifting episodes, never made the dish since. Thanks for reminding the recipe, sure going to make it's a holiday tomorrow, on account of Gandhi Jayanti here in India. And oh...though I loved you recipe immensely, I loved your account of the conversation with your daughter more ! You have a great flair for writing, and I'm sure you must be doing very well, if thats your profession ! Do let me know if you are (or already have) publishing any book....I'd love to read more from you ...

  43. Best gujrati food in nj , I've been here many times over the years for various wedding and wedding related functions. Great Indian food restaurant in edison nj.
    gujrati food in nj

  44. Dimple Restaurant provides genuine Gujrati Food in NJ with a guarantee from that you will never depart dissatisfied and keep returning for more and more.
    gujrati food in nj

  45. gujrati food in nj
    Best gujrati food in nj , I've been here many times over the years for various wedding
    and wedding related functions. Great Indian food restaurant in edison nj.

  46. Oh thats a unique combination to add rice in cauliflower curry...sounds interesting..

    loved to read your chit chat with your little one :-)
    Restaurant in Edison NJ


Thanks for your Comments. I hope you will be nice and not Spam.