Heirloom Recipes

The Only Way I'd Eat Cauliflower as a Kid (and Now as an Adult, Too)

November 16, 2017

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This one comes from community member Heena, who shares a favorite recipe of her mother's that's simple, satisfying, and make-ahead friendly.

When I was contacted about featuring my Mom’s Aloo Gobhi recipe, I was sure there was a mistake—I did not remember putting up the recipe.

In fact, it is such a simple recipe that I take it completely for granted (cooking more from memory and instinct than an actual written recipe). I could not have dared to imagine that other people would find it interesting. As I clicked on the recipe link included in the email, I had a blast from the past as I read the lovingly transcribed recipe for the dish that was the only way my mother could make me eat any cauliflower.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

At the time I first uploaded the recipe, I was working as a software engineer in Toronto. Homesickness made me turn to the recipes my mother so lovingly made in our Bombay kitchen. The familiar smells and tastes would transport me right back home and were my greatest source of comfort. This trend continued when I moved to Paris scouring the Indian neighborhood for familiar spices and ingredients.

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Today, I’m back in Bombay and in a plot twist, I now work as a professional pastry chef (that’s a long story for another day). Meals are eaten hurriedly between restaurant service and cake orders, and while I’m building elaborate confections, I seem to have forgotten the comfort and pleasure of a simple, home-cooked meal. In today’s clickbait world of recipes (2000-layer Napoleon! World’s best chocolate cake!) I had forgotten that people also need something that is delicious but easy enough that it becomes a regular feature in their home as it was in ours.

After being reminded of my mother’s recipe, I stepped back into my own kitchen on my day off and started cooking. I had forgotten how quickly the recipe comes together, how all the spices meld together to create a fragrant steam when you lift up the lid, how the cauliflower is just the perfect texture (and still the only way I’ll eat it). With freshly made chapatis and hot dal on the side, it was the perfect meal—warming and comforting. I was truly home.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Matilda Luk
    Matilda Luk


AntoniaJames November 16, 2017
Meena, I have a feeling this will strike a chord in the hearts of so many people. Homesickness in a cold place (I've been there) seems universally helped, if not cured, by the aromas of one's favorite childhood foods, especially when wrapped in the warmth of the kitchen. Ultimately, this defines comfort food, in the truest sense of the word.

I'm looking forward to trying your recipe, too! I have a nice little curry leaf plant on the landing below my kitchen window. I've never used the leaves in a dish like this, and was just saying the other day how I need to find more ways to use those leaves. Thank you. ;o)
Matilda L. November 16, 2017
Beautifully written. Now I can hardly wait to hear that long story of how you came back home to Bombay and became a professional pastry chef!