The Layering of Flavours

One of the amazing things learned from my courses in Indian Cooking is the layering of flavours. And Indian cuisine has a lot of flavours to work with. It is a process of adding ingredients through time. Both the Indian Cooking and the Indian Vegetarian courses are taught by Chef Sean Mendonca. He unveils this secret to Indian cooking through a series of demonstrations. The courses are currently online through George Brown College. I highly recommend them if you want to expand your culinary repertoire.

I will show how the process goes in order for you to visually get the idea. However, hear is Chef Sean’s recipe to see what is involved. Before you begin, you prepare you ingredients in advance so you have everything at your fingertips.

Aloo Gobi
(Spiced Potato & Cauliflower)

Yield: 10 servings

3 potatoes
1 head of cauliflower
50 ml oil
5 g cumin seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
10 g garlic paste
10 g ginger paste
2 green chiles
10 g coriander powder
10 g turmeric powder
5 g chile powder
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped


  1. Peel and cut potatoes into quarters. Cook in cold water for about 12 minutes — the
    potatoes should still be a bit firm.
  2. Cut cauliflower into florets and lightly blanch in salted water for 5 minutes until al
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the cumin seed and toast until it starts to crackle.
    Add the onion and bay leaf. Cook briefly.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, green chiles, coriander, turmeric, and chile powder.
  5. Add the tomatoes. Cook briefly.
  6. Add the potatoes and cauliflower with the water and cook until done. Season to taste
    with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish with lemon juice and cilantro.

Begin by heating the oil. It needs to be hot enough to start the cumin seeds crackling. Test by putting in a couple of seeds and listen. This will create a cumin flavoured oil.

After doing a few recipes you will get the feel of the flow. Once the cumin flavour has been released, add the onions and bay leaf

Once the onions become translucent, add the ginger and garlic paste. You will be able to smell the changes in flavour during each step. The pungent poof of garlic/ginger is immediately noticeable.

Then add the chilies and your spice powders. The powders are only cooked briefly as you do not want them to burn. Again, have a whiff as you are stirring and adding another layer to the mix.

Add the tomatoes. The moisture will soak up the spices. Use the spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan.

Finally, add the potatoes and cauliflower, along with some of the water from boiling the potatoes. Allow the flavours to spread through the mixture. Add the lemon and cilantro just before serving.

Along with this dish I also did a 5 lentil stew using the same process with different spices. Together they provided a varied flavourful dinner. And that is the secret to good Indian cooking. Of course there are other methods to Indian cooking – Dum (steam cooking), Bhunao (combination of stewing and sauteing), Talna (frying), Tarka or Bhagar (tempering), Dhuannar (Smoking) and Tandoori cooking (done in a tandoor).

If you are interested in pursuing this cuisine, you will need to stock up on spices. Here is a list of Indian grocery stores that will supply you:

B J Supermarket1449 Gerrard Street East, Toronto M4L 1Z9
Kohinoor Foods 1438 Gerrard Street East, Toronto M4L 1Z8
Namaste Indian Supermarket85 Kingston Road East,#13-15,Ajax
Trupti Enterprises2 Thorncliffe Park Dr #40, East York, ON M4H 1H2
House of Spice190 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L6
The Spice Trader877 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G3
Dundas Fruit and Vegetables38 Dundas St W, Mississauga, ON L5B 1H4
Patel Brothers169 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L5A 1W8
Om India Foods1470 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J 3N1
Ambal Trading591 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M4X 1P9
Om India Food Centre3300 McNicoll Ave, Scarborough, ON M1V 5J6
Queen Supermarket1431 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1M3

Happy Cooking. Also today is Republic Day in India. They established their constitution this day in 1950 – Happy Republic Day.

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