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Updated: Aug 21, 2021

An instant trip to my mother’s kitchen as soon as the first set of spices hits the wok 😌 My mom, learned it from her mother-in-law, my "Thamma". In Bengali, my mother tongue, "thamma" signifies paternal grandmother.

"Aloo" is potato. "Kopi" is cauliflower."Chechki" is regional dish, a stir fry specific to West Bengal, and the Kolkata region, and is tempered with "paanch phoron" a spice made out of a blend of five seeds. From speaking to my "thamma" and hanging out with her in the kitchen, I learned that widows in India, particularly the Kolkata region, traditionally have been expected to eat different foods. Non-vegetarian was a no, no. Onion and garlic were also frowned upon.

The plethora of foods that developed as a result of this constraint forms the basis of some of the most flavorful, healthy vegetarian and plant-based cuisine I have tasted. I am truly grateful to have access and connection to that culinary practice and because of it, I will NEVER EVER have a problem being a vegetarian.

I'm definitely headed in the direction of wanting vegetarian, not because it's fashionable but because I truly enjoy it better. The only reason I am still interacting with everything else is because my son really enjoys it and I am having a hard time giving up the idea of all the dishes I "used" to cook. This blog is a letting go of that part of my history as a chef while still recording that journey and retaining that as an option for generations that may follow and learn about their family's culinary repertoire.

This is a super simple to make after the first run. It's the ultimate comfort food. SO good on rainy days on a bed of rice with some masoor daal. Or if you want to skip the carbs in the rice, plate it on shredded cabbage. Or do another take on soup & sandwich and do a soup n veggies.

If you like ordering "Aloo Gobi", Potato and Cauliflower, in Indian restaurants, this is not that dish. That dish is another bog post :)

A weekly staple in our house with the cauliflower getting switched out for green beans, cabbage or peas and it’s a new dish every time :)


  • 4 tablespoon oil

  • 1/8 teaspoon Hing

  • 1 teaspoon paanch phoron

  • 2 dry red chilli

  • 1 cup potatoes, cut in half moons (Halve the potato. Then slice them half inch thick)

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets (if using the store bought pack, cut the bigger florets into half)

  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric

  • ¼ teaspoon chilli (or more if you want spicier)

  • 1 whole tomato chopped

  • cilantro for garnish


1. Prepare the spices ahead in two different bowls. The hing, paanch phoron, and dry chilli in one bowl. The salt, turmeric and chilli in another bowl.

2. Cut the potatoes and soak in water.

3. Cut cauliflower and soak in water.

4. Add oil in a wok or frying pan. Heat to high.

5. Add the first set of spices with the hing, paanch phoron and red chilli. Turn down heat to medium. Fry for 10 secs.

6. Add the potatoes. Fry for about five minutes till potatoes start catching on the pan and start to brown.

7. Add the cauliflower. Fry for a minute.

8. Add the second set of spices – salt, tumeric and chilli. Fry for another couple of minutes. 9. Make a hole in the center of the pan by pushing vegetables aside.

10. Add the whole tomato and cover.

11. Turn the heat to medium low and let sit for 10 minutes Uncover.

12. Use a fork to check on potatoes till they are fork tender. Cover for a couple more minutes if needed.

13. Once the potatoes are tender, take a steak knife fork and start cutting into the steamed tomato and cut into small pieces. Be careful to not mince the potatoes and cauliflower. (If uncomfortable, feel free to take the tomato out with a big spoon, do the cutting on a plate and then pour the tomato goodness back into the pan)

14. Mix in the tomato. (Your first few times cooking, your vegetables may be a bit mushy – there’s a trick to the stirring, “go under and flip” but the taste will be just perfect)

15. Cook for a couple of minutes uncovered.

16. Garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy with Daal and Rice!

Please email me at if anything is unclear or if you have any questions. If you try this recipe and it works for you or made modifications, please leave a comment to let the community know.


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