Earlier this year I wrote a guest article for Paleo Magazine, emphasizing the importance of eating vegetables. Americans tend to give vegetables a lower priority than the rest of the world; when comparing the most economically developed areas of the United States (those with the most money to spend on food) to similarly developed regions in Europe and the Western Pacific, we only eat about 75% as many vegetables as the other regions. Comparing the lesser economically developed areas of the United States to their global counterparts is much worse: there, we eat only around 35% as many vegetables.
Vegetables are an important factor in overall health. While not as nutrient-heavy as organ meats, fish, seafood, and naturally raised ruminants, they are often superior to pork, poultry, and fruit in terms of nutrient density. Fermented vegetables, a food that has been consumed for thousands of winters, also provide unique and essential forms of probiotic bacteria and increase the bioavailability (ability for us to absorb their nutrients) of vegetables.
Aloo Gobi Matar is Punjabi dish, and an excellent example of the potential tastiness and diversity to be found in a vegetable dish. Using a small amount of many vegetables will give your dishes deeper flavors and will make you less likely to tire of certain foods. If I ate just tomatoes every day, I’d get sick of them; adding a tomato or two to several dishes in a row wouldn’t have the same effect.
Aloo Gobi Matar
1 lb (2 medium-sized) potatoes or white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
3 tbsp ghee, divided
1 large cauliflower, broken into medium-sized florets
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1″ ginger, minced (1/2 tsp ground ginger okay)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground fennel
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp each)
fresh chopped cilantro to garnish
1. Soak the potatoes in cool water for 20 minutes, then drain and pat dry. In a large skillet, warm 2 tbsp of the ghee over med/high heat, then add the potatoes. Cook until browned, turning every couple of minutes, about 10 minutes, then drain on some paper towels.
2. Add the rest of the ghee to the skillet and reduce the heat to med/low. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp salt, and sauté until softened and slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
3. As the onions cook, drop the cauliflower florets in boiling water and par-boil for 3 minutes, then drain and set aside.
4. Once the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and ginger and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the spices (minus salt and pepper) and cook until the oil starts to separate from the paste, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the cauliflower, potato, peas, and water and gently stir until well-mixed; cover and simmer until the cauliflower softens, about 5 minutes. Uncover and add salt and pepper to taste, then serve with chopped cilantro on top.