Indian Inspired Aloo Gobi Wraps

by Gena on August 7, 2011

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Yesterday, I spent 5 hours on the same 23 electrochemistry problems for my online homework. One of the problems took me more than an hour and a half, and by the time I gave up on it—having entered no less than 24 incorrect answers—I was literally weeping in sheer frustration.

Ah, student life.

As it turns out, the problem that felled me was in fact faulty in the online homework system, which is why no combination amount of fiddling with signs, sig figs, orders of operation, or logic could possibly help me get it right. But it was traumatizing nonetheless, and not very different from many of my afternoons as a post-bacc student.

To make myself feel better, I committed to putting my books down, taking a head-clearing walk, and then making a good meal. Because, even though I can’t always fix or understand the mistakes I make when I’m doing chem, calc, or stats, I can always roll with the punches as I cook. If I add too much salt or fat, I cut the recipe with more volume. If I under-season, I adjust. If my texture’s too loose, I can add starch or flax to thicken; if it’s pasty, I can add some creamy coconut milk or some broth or water. If flatbread falls apart, I call it crackers. There are few kitchen emergencies I can’t deal with creatively: I wish it worked that way when it comes to redox reactions.

This dish may be suffering from a case of cultural schizophrenia: it’s inspiration is the Indian dish aloo gobi, which is one of my favorites: a mix of cauliflower, potato, green peas, curry, and (usually) some tomato. Since I had quite a few wax potatoes handy, as well as some chana dal and green beans, I decided to make a spin on aloo gobi by using chopped green beans in place of peas, adding the dal, and topping it all off with a rich spice mix. Since I also had exactly two whole wheat wraps in the fridge, I decided to wrap the gobi up, burrito style. So this is sort of an Indian/Mexican marriage. I suppose much international cuisine is really fusion food at heart!

These wraps sound like they take a while, but they’re actually quite easy to make, and absolutely delicious. Topped off with some mango chutney, they’re a perfectly satisfying, sweet savory combo.

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Aloo Gobi Wraps (vegan, soy free)

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

3 large red potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsps curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water
1/2 cup chana dal (baby split chickpeas)
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
1 cup chopped green beans
1 1/2 tsps cumin
1/8 tsp ground clove
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp spicy curry paste (optional, but great if you have it)
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup light coconut milk

2-4 large whole wheat wraps
Vegan mango chutney

1) Heat oil in a medium sized pot till hot. Add potatoes and onions, and sautee till onions are transluscent (about 10 min).

2) Add the salt, curry, garlic, and water, and bring to a boil. When the water boils, add the dal. Lower water to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until most liquid has absorbed and the dal are cooked tender.

3) Add the chopped cauliflower and beans, along with the cumin, clove, tomato paste, and curry paste. Cover pot and cook down until the cauliflower is very tender (you may need to add a bit of water periodically to keep things tender: I added about 1/3 cup). It should take about 10 minutes.

4) When cauliflower is cooked and the mixture is nice and thick, add 1/4 cup coconut milk. Cook, lid off, till it thickens up again (about 5-10 min).

5) Scoop mixture into whole wheat wraps, and top with a nice dollop of chutney (if desired). Wrap, slice, and serve with a big green salad!

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This dish was everything I needed it to be: it was fragrant. It was hearty and filling. It was fun to make, fun to eat, and it brought me back to the kitchen, which is the place I feel most confident, even when I’m not so confident about other things, like my agility with oxidation states. And after that meal, I felt ready to attack the unknown again. If you like fragrant and filling food, give these wraps a try: they’re delicious, and nutrient dense to boot.

Where do you feel most confident? Does cooking help you to reconnect with a sense of self? What dishes bring you back to earth when you’re melting down?

Great conversation, by the way, yesterday, with regard to ED histories and having trouble eating food that isn’t to your liking. Check out the comments if you haven’t already!

xo

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen August 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

I love Aloo Gobi! Indian food is so warming. I don’t eat enough of it! I used to add curry to almost everything, but haven’t done so in a while. I don’t even have curry power in my cupboard at the moment. *Gasp!*

I feel the most confident in the gym. There’s something about lifting weights, or working up a dripping sweat, that makes me feel empowered.

Cooking and baking sometimes help me reconnect with my sense of self, but lately I’ve been throwing together half-assed meals. Honestly, to relate to yesterday’s post, I’ve been struggling with making more laborious meals due to fear. I’m truly missing that therapeutic effect of solid kitchen time, and being excited to prepare something comforting. I need to get myself back into the swing of things! Your wrap look fantastic. I should look through your other recipes for more ideas.

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Allysia August 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

This is so funny, I just ate aloo gobi yesterday – had a huge hankering for Indian food, which happens sometimes. I love the idea of throwing it into a wrap! Also, that’s rough about the electrochemistry. I don’t even know what electrochemistry is, but it sure doesn’t sound like a party.

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The Rawtarian August 7, 2011 at 11:27 am

Oh dear, I remember being a student… Glad to read that it was technology–not your brain–that was failing you! :)

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Mama Pea August 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

You poor thing! My gosh, that test experience sounds traumatic! I think I would have had a pint of coconut milk ice cream for dinner. I’m glad you didn’t though, this looks delicious!

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Marianne August 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I used to hate those online question submissions, because there was always one question that I just could not come up with the right answer for, regardless of what I did. I swore the system was faulty, but never got validation that was so. I feel your pain, I really do.

And that wrap looks amazing. I love potato/cauliflower based Indian curries. I often make some sort of variation on them, usually adding chickpeas as well.

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Emilia @ Namaste Gurl August 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’ll have to remember to take “cooking breaks” when I start up my rigorous school schedule at the end of this month. There’s nothing a yummy meal or baked good using your creativity can’t do :)

I SO wish cooking was like doing math problems- wouldn’t it be so much easier? Good luck, my friend. You’ll get through it all with your intelligence and spunk :)

These look super yummy- can’t wait to try!

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Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) August 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Although we have something called roti in my culture that is wrap like, I would have never thought to put curry in an actual wrap!! Which could be a nice variation since I can’t make roti and it is a little expensive to buy.

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Lindsay August 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Oh YUM. This is one of my fave dishes and your wrapped up version reminds me a lot of the curried cauliflower wrap at s’nice. Good for you for turning a frustrating experience into a delicious creation. Food does always have a way of making things better!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Oh Gena, I am soooo sorry for your afternoon and the resulting feelings. I have memories of those types of afternoons and usually in my case, it wasnt a problem wit the homework that was given (although yes textbooks can be wrong and that is even worse!) it was me just not getting it and the feeling of spending ALL THAT TIME on something, not getting anywhere, I remember getting so stressed. Just reading this brought me back about 10 years. I am so sorry for your day!!

But so happy for this part:
“It was fun to make, fun to eat, and it brought me back to the kitchen, which is the place I feel most confident, even when I’m not so confident about other things”

The meal looks great and I am glad you were able to make something and create and feel confident. I love creating things in the kitchen, writing blog posts, running, doing yoga; doing things that I know I can tackle and will give me joy when I am feeling particularly stressed. I love making and creating new dessert recipes at those times :)

And mango chutney from TJ’s…I go thru about 3 jars a week lately :)

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Mandiee August 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I LOVE curries, especially when they involve cauliflower, so I’m definitely bookmarking this for when it gets chillier and the cravings for warming foods begin. Often my kitchen creations are some type of fusion, too. My favorite answer for when my mom asks me what I’m making is simply “food” because often times I don’t even know! At least that is an easier question than the ones you are tackling with your online homework. Electrochem wasn’t my strong point either, but I’m sure you’ll get through it with all the hard work and perseverance you’re putting in. Good luck!

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Get Skinny, Go Vegan. August 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

This looks delicious!

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Lauren August 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Love Indian food! Gotta make these!

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Lauren August 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm

It may bad blogger form to admit this but I’ve never had Indian food before. My mom hates it so I’ve never tried it. Since we’re both in the DC/northern VA area, any suggestions on where to try it for the first time? :D Thanks Gena! I’ll have to try this recipe at some point after we move on Tuesday…for now, no more groceries are being bought!

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Gena August 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

You know, Lauren, I have a tough time with a lot of Indian food, because I can’t take *too* much spice, but I do love a few key dishes, and this is one!

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Lauren August 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Oh great thank you! :D

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Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) August 7, 2011 at 8:41 pm

I was Indian in a past life, and in my opinion there is nothing better than Indian food. Can’t wait to make these Gena! Thanks again for keeping us inspired.

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Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn August 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Ahhh!!! Indian food is the best! <3

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bitt August 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm

oh that sounds downright awful. i think i may have quit after chem 1 and i applaud you for your persistence. they try to weed people out for sure. hang in there.

aloo gobbi is a fave of ours too. will make this soon! no more indian take out! yipeee make my own.

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Katie August 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm

This was really good and bad to hear from a new professor’s perspective. I am planning on setting up some online homework assignments but I don’t want this to happen to any of my students! Now I’m rethinking it…

Maybe you can bring your prof some aloo gobi? :D

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Gena August 8, 2011 at 5:13 am

Katie,

It’s not altogether a bad system. When you get the material, it’s helpful in cementing understanding. The problem is that, when you’re getting question after question wrong, and even when you enter 10 tries, it doesn’t always give you a “hint” as to what’s up. So you don’t know if it’s a simple issue of data entry (a sig fig, say) or that you actually are doing the problem altogether wrong. This is frustration, and I daresay it doesn’t help me learn by correcting myself. Compare this to when I do textbook homework: I’ll always have the answer key out, but then again, I can closely follow what I’m doing and catch mistakes as I go.

G

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Ali (urbanfruitbat) August 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Awww, girl! I am so so sorry that happened to you! Technology can be the absolute worst! I am glad that you know how to make yourself feel better though! I am like you, I feel pretty confident in the kitchen, with desserts being my go to for sure fire success! I hope you do feel better friend.

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Ela August 8, 2011 at 12:13 am

Ooh, I love aloo gobi–and I adore how you turned to the kitchen for some validation and a place where you _can_ balance equations. That’s kinda validating, too, that the kicker problem was actually a mechanical fault!

Chana dal is actually baby split chickpeas–slightly different taste than yellow split peas, and (because they’re ‘baby,’ I guess) the lowest glycemic legume, fwiw.

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Jelle August 8, 2011 at 3:43 am

nomnomnom :) bookmarked the page! I love wraps :) and booby-trapped assignments sucks :D

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Laura Agar Wilson (@keephealthstyle) August 8, 2011 at 4:00 am

I find cooking hugely therapeutic. I just stick the radio on and potter around in the kitchen and instantly feel better! My fave things to make in this way are also curries and huge pans of soup! Since I got a dehydrator a few weeks ago I’ve found preparing things to go in there extremely relaxing too :-)

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Kate (Peacocks & Moonshine) August 8, 2011 at 8:55 am

Yikes-that sounds pretty brutal! At least the result was a delicious recipe :)
My kitchen has been all over the world and back lately, so I can understand this recipe’s global fusion. I have been inspired by my favorite Macrobiotics cookbook as well as balancing my Vata dosha (which equals lots of Indian food). This recipe will be on display in a couple nights at my house :)

Also, I read through yesterday’s comments and was a little shocked at both sides of the sending-food-back debate. I guess if you want to get people riled up talk about veganism, sex and restaurants…anyway, I think its a very gray area and while I do agree in some circumstances it is completely appropriate to send a dish back, some of the readers seemed to be teetering dangerously on a ED habit in disguise. Orthorexia-”a fixation with healthy or righteous eating and has been referred to as a mental disorder” is a real issue with some people in the health food community. A compassionate lifestyle, to me, means practicing gratitude not just to the food we eat, but the energy behind it. I guess that’s why it’s a gray area-because sending a plate back that has been carelessly or grossly prepared should be just as acceptable as sending back a piece of spoiled fish or a rotten egg. The reverse is true, too-I will eat a dish that has been lovingly prepared instead of sending it back because there was something I disliked about it (unless there it involves animal flesh).

Thanks-as always-for bringing up a complex subject and giving us the space to discuss it :) Hope your homework gets easier and your day is wonderful-

Warmly,

K

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Christine (The Raw Project) August 8, 2011 at 10:09 am

Yikes, sorry about the online homework – so frustrating! But this dish looks wonderful! I love curry and potatoes together, so filling and comforting.

Pulling off a successful dish in the kitchen does help me after a bad day at work.

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Kelsey @ Unmitigated Grub August 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

awww so sorry about that frustrating problem!! not cool. but I am glad these wraps were your stress relief because they look totally delicious! I LOVE Indian food and haven’t had it in so long.

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Eat Hike Sleep Repeat August 8, 2011 at 10:18 am

Very helpful summary of how to “fix” a dish depending on how it turns out.
Re: confidence. It can be a funny thing indeed. I feel very confident in my job, but less so in my play. I just posted about leading my first hiking trip. There can be things that you regularly do, but when your role changes (e.g. from follower to leader), it can feel like a whole new ball of wax.
Good luck gaining confidence on oxidation state :)

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Sam @ Mom At The Barre August 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

I wish the brains behind med school curricula would realize that you will never see a redox reactions as a physician. Ever. Oh well. Sorry about your afternoon.

I make aloo gobi a lot. I grew up having it and I love the little tweaks you added like the green beans and ofcourse wrapping it up burrito style!

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girl in the pink August 8, 2011 at 11:33 am

I find cooking so relaxing, it’s the only time I really just forget everything else and focus on the task at hand – love that!

This recipe looks delicious too!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles August 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I’ve definitely been in your position with frustrating chemistry. Don’t worry, you’re almost done. You’ll survive!!

Right now I feel more comfortable with chemistry than in the kitchen. I hope that changes!! This recipe looks awesome, I love Indian flavors.

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melody polakow: Vegan for 3.33 a day August 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Those looks so good!

Your studies are sooo challenging!… My friend Paulie.. one of my best friends ever and another non-traditional student.. (she is 38 and a mom of two) is getting her White Coat in two weeks…

Blood, sweat and tears!!… and lots of great vegan, healthy food!

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Sam (Quantum Vegan) August 14, 2011 at 6:45 am

Why, how did you know that I’m practically obsessed with curried potatoes? (Curried anything, really. >.>) And mango chutney! My favorite! I’m definitely going to have to try this dish out.’

My favorite go-to “comfort” meals are beans and rice and vegan pizza. Both are easy and versatile, and can be made with very little stress. Plus they taste amazing!

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Tiina August 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

Keep at it Genna, you are super smart and you can do it. You are going to be a great doctor, and though I don’t write in often your posts are amazing and show what a great tenacious person you are. These subjects were definitely not my forte either. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just wanted to send you that note of encouragement this morning.

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Tiina August 15, 2011 at 8:18 am

ps. this makes me think of Hampton Chutney on Prince street- I was there last week for their avocado masterpiece with mango chutney

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Susan August 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Hey Gena,
My boyfriend is allergic to both chickpeas and green beans–any thoughts on some delicious substitutions? He loves when I make him raw/vegan foods and he LOVES Indian food, so I’d hate for him not to enjoy this :-D

Thanks!

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Sean October 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

Wow all these foods look really great. I’m a vegetarian interested in going vegan so I found this page. Although after seeing that every single comment on this site is by women it honestly makes me realize i might as well start eating meat again… i mean all of this looks delicious but i haven’t seen any of this food in a single restaurant I’ve ever been to. How do you find 6 hours out of your day to prepare this anyway?? Don’t get me wrong I want to support veganism and this looks fun to try but I don’t have time to do any of this and it this makes me think it doesn’t matter. i mean i don’t have a girlfriend, i don’t even really have any friends, i eat pretty healthy now and kinda enjoy it i guess but right now all im having this realization that i haven’t eaten some actual good tasting chik fil a or some dominos….. i mean i care about animals shit… i cried when i saw those videos but to 99% of people who aren’t vegan that doesn’t matter and ugly, acne covered outcasts like me just get insulted and publicly humiliated by everyone… especially women who seem to think about nothing more than sex appeal.

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