Tandoori Gobi

I fell in love with 'tandoori gobi' at first sight! Neither sticky nor oily, brightly coloured, and good looking! My earliest recollection of this exotic dish is at P Uncle's place. One of my daddy's friends had hosted a dinner for us when my father got transferred from Jabalpur. I cannot recall the friend's name (Started with 'P') but I do remember that his daughter's name was Aanchal.

They had served us these huge cauliflower flowerets, that seemed to have been grilled in coal. They were dark brown and yummy! A long time after that day, I tasted an equally tasty version at 'Shiv Kripa', opposite Talao Pali, in Thane.

My husband and I used to eat there often when we were courting, and the waiters there would recognize us as their loyal 'tandoori gobi' customers. Now 'Shiv Kripa' is overshadowed by the presence of bigger hotels with finer interiors, and I find that the previous standards are not met any more! They no longer serve this wonderful delicacy - maybe it wasn't publicized enough!
(Another droolworthy dish was their 'lal mirchi ka achaar' - I discovered a better version at Vandana's house - home made and she gives it free too!!)

I have tried tandoori gobi in many other places since, but no one has been able to replicate the standards set by 'Shiv Kripa'.....until about 3 years back. I had been leafing through my recipe collection (The ones copied from Mummy's collection, from magazine cutouts etc.), and found a half jotted recipe of 'tandoori gobi'. I had written down the ingredients but not the method! That was enough for me. I tried making it using the ingredients a marinade, coating half done cauliflowers with it. Allowed it to dry in the fridge (To rob the moisture), and then deep fried a few and grilled the rest over the gas directly. The result was tasty but my gas burner was choked up from the marinade running into it!

Now I have somewhat perfected the recipe.....using Nita Mehta's version as my guide. I once tried following her recipe to the tee - it is equally good and almost the same except for the addition of peppercorns, and use of tandoori masala (which I do not buy!)

Aah!! Here's the recipe at last ;)

Plan a day before you actually would like to make the dish - the more it marinates the better it tastes!

Ingredients for the marinade:
(I readied this the previous evening and marinated the gobi the entire night in it!)

Fresh Curd (Hung in a muslin cloth to drain the water completely) - 1/2 kg.
Chilli powder - 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp.
Bengal gram flour (Besan) - 1/2 tsp.
Salt - to taste
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp. (I do not use this!)
Black salt powder (Kala namak) - 1/2 tsp.
Sambar powder - 1/2tsp.
Salsa sauce - 1/4 tsp.

Ingredients for topping before serving:
Red chilli powder - 2 tsps.
Lime juice - 1/2 cup.
Sugar - a pinch of icing sugar.
Mix the three together in a bowl and set aside to be used at the time of serving.

Method for marinade:

1. Hang the curd in a muslin cloth till the water is completely drained.

2. Take the hung curd in a deep bowl. Add all the other ingredients, and whisk till blended.

3. It should be smooth. If not add a tsp. of sunflower or olive oil and whisk till shiny and smooth.

4. Taste it to check that it is tangy but not sour (Add cream if it is!), a little spicy (It will be spread over a wide area so it will not be as spicy later!), and salty enough for you.

Method for the tandoori gobi:

1. I power steamed big cauliflower flowerettes in the microwave adding a little salt till just done in two or three batches. Alternatively you may steam it adding a little salt over boiling water till half done.

2. Drain the cauliflower in a sieve completely.

3. Lightly toss the flowerettes in the marinade taking care that they do not break. Remove each floweret and push the marinade inside the nooks so that it is well coated.

4. Set in an open bowl in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 hrs, so that they become dry. (I kept it overnight). Here is how they looked the next morning.

5. Remove and grill in a greased tray or rack in a pre-heated oven at 150 deg. cel. (I prefer to grill for a longer time at a slower temperature to ensure that it is cooked through) till the tops are nicely browned (Burnt tastes even better!).

Remove once in between and turn over to grill evenly all over.

6. Before serving brush the tops liberally with the lime+sugar+chilli powder solution (Balance the ingredients to suit your taste!), and grill further for 5 to ten minutes in a hot oven.

7. Serve with peas sauteed in butter or in a bed of lettuce leaves.

8. I keep aside some without the chilli powder solution on top. Instead I top it with a little grated cheese and bake till the tops melt. Children love it this way. This time I forgot to do this. My children loved the adult version - I also realized that they had grown up since the last time!!

Note: I avoided the oil,cream and butter entirely and still got the best results!!
My peas have been blanched in salted water and the shine is due to lime juice.

Tip: Cover the tray with aluminium foil to catch the drip if any so that your tray does not end up with hard dried marinade!

Labels: , , , ,