Adding Gnocchi to Aloo Gobi makes for a beautiful textural balance between the tender and slightly chewy gnocchi and the crunchy charred cauliflower. Just imagine filling up your fork with a piece of perfectly cooked cauliflower and a pillowy cloud of gnocchi soaking up all the rich and spicy sauce!
Inspiration for making aloo gobi with gnocchi
The Northern Indian dish of Aloo Gobi is one of my favorite things to order when I get Indian food. Unfortunately here in America, a dish featuring potatoes and cauliflower can feel more like a side instead of the main. I guess we are just meat focused like that. I wanted to keep it vegetarian but make it more like a meal of it’s own, so I swapped out the potatoes in aloo gobi for gnocchi! Somehow I guess pasta makes vegetarian foods feel more like a main dish? These are arbitrary cultural lines that don’t make much sense!
I originally made this dish about 12 years ago but recently realized I made it for another website and not my own. I looked over that recipe and it was a little different than what I would do today with all those 12 years of experience under my belt, so I decided to make it again!
Making the perfect gnocchi
Unfortunately there is no foolproof recipe for gnocchi. The potatoes will always have a different moisture level, which means you will need to adjust the amount of flour you use. In the recipe at the bottom of this page, I did my best explaining the ratios, but it will always be different. I like to use a potato ricer and a gnocchi board to help me make better gnocchi.
Bake vs. Boil potatoes for gnocchi
I have gone back and forth on this topic and even tested boiling, steaming, and baking side by side by side. For a while I liked boiling more, but I think I was just making the gnocchi wrong. Now that I have a potato ricer and the knowledge and experience of making gnocchi with baked potatoes, I find that they come out way better than any other method! Another shortcut is to use potato flakes or instant mash. My very Italian grandmother always used potato flakes for gnocchi and they came out fantastic! A little different and more gummy, but to me that will always be the texture of a classic gnocchi cause that is what I grew up with.
I don’t pan fry gnocchi for every recipe, but for gnocchi gobi, the added toasty flavor is key to making this taste like a true mash-up between the Italian and Indian dishes.
Homemade vs. Store Bought gnocchi
I will never look down on someone for taking shortcuts in the kitchen or using store bought items. If the difference between you making this recipe or not comes down to using store bought gnocchi, the bottom line is I want you to make the recipe so please use the store bought!
Roasting the Cauliflower
A more traditional aloo gobi would involve cooking the cauliflower in the pan with everything else but we are using gnocchi in this dish so right off the bat we are anything but traditional. I love the flavor of charred cauliflower, and I also love my cauliflower nice and crunchy. If it is overcooked, it’s not my favorite! Roasting the cauliflower before adding it to the dish helps me keep the cauliflower the perfect texture for me.
Simply toss it in some oil, salt, and cumin and broil it until the tops start to char.
Making the sauce for Gnocchi Gobi
The sauce starts as a simple paste of onion, garlic, ginger, chilis, tomato, and spices.
Cook the onion in butter with a little cumin for about 10 minutes to soften, then add garlic and ginger pastes, and some sliced chilis. After that cooks another 2 minutes, add in the tomatoes and cook 5 minutes until they turn to mush. I peel the tomatoes first, which I gave directions for in the recipe below. Next all the spices go in! Coriander, spicy chili powder, mild chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala.
Finally add the cauliflower and gnocchi in, with a little of the pasta cooking liquid and some cream and toss the gnocchi gobi together!
I topped this dish with a drizzle of really good olive oil and lots of fresh cilantro. So good! The flavor is aloo gobi but gnocchi totally changes the texture!
Variations on Gnocchi Gobi
I mentioned earlier but you can definitely use store bought gnocchi for this gnocchi gobi recipe. There are a lot of different gnocchi varieties that would work well too! And you could use a gluten free version to make the whole thing GF. You could also use a half cup of canned crushed tomatoes instead of peeling and dicing a tomato yourself.
Making it more authentic
Obviously using gnocchi instead of potatoes immediately makes this dish less authentic to it’s roots, but I also made a few swap-outs for my personal tastes, and to make sure the ingredients for this dish are readily available at your local grocery store. One thing you can do if you want to make it more true to traditional aloo gobi is add whole cumin seeds to the butter and onion at the beginning. And of course use ghee instead of butter. You could also add a pinch of asafoetida in with the onions. Some versions also use amchur (dried green mango) and fenugreek leaves which would be added toward the end of cooking.
If you love making gnocchi and using them in untraditional ways, check out my recipes for gnocchi pasta salad, gnocchi chili bowls, pulled pork and sour cream gnocchi and one of my all time faves, GNOCCHOS!
- 2 large russet potatoes
- olive oil
- 3/4 cup flour more or less
- 1 egg
- 2 roma tomatoes peeled and diced (instructions below)
- 1 head cauliflower broken into florets, large stems removed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin split in half
- 2 inches ginger grated into a paste
- 5 cloves garlic grated into a paste
- 3 small spicy green chili peppers cut into rounds
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon spicy chili powder such as arbol or cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup cream
- good olive oil
- chopped cilantro
Make the Gnocchi
- Bring the oven to 375. Use a fork to pierce the potatoes in a few places. Coat the potatoes in olive oil and place on a pan. Bake about an hour and a half to two hours until fork tender. Remove from heat.
- Peel the potatoes and run them through a potato ricer
- Add in about 1/2 cup of flour, the egg, and a pinch of salt. Stir together until it starts to form a dough. Pour onto a counter top or dough board with more flour on the surface. Start to knead and as it comes together, add more flour if needed. Do not over knead. Rest the dough for about a half hour.
- Split the dough in half and roll each half out into a long snake about 1 inch round. Use a spatula or butter knife to cut 1 inch segments of dough from the snake.
- With plenty of flour and a gnocchi board, one by one use your thumb to press the dough into a gnocchi board while sliding downwards to cause the gnocchi to roll up into a traditional gnocchi shape.
To peel the tomatoes
- Bring some water to a boil. Season it with salt. Use a pairing knife to remove the top stem area, then cut a small X on the bottom. Boil the tomato for about 30 seconds until you see the skin starting to get loose. Remove to an ice bath. The skin will easily come off. Dice the tomato and set aside until ready to use. Keep the boiling water on the stove.
Make the dish
- Set the broiler to high
- Put the cauliflower onto a baking sheet and toss with salt and olive oil. Broil for about 10 minutes until starting to brown on top. Remove from heat.
- Boil the gnocchi in the same water you boiled the tomatoes. About 6-7 minutes until they float. When they are about done, reserve a half cup of the water.
- Preheat a pan with some olive oil and add the gnocchi directly from the boiling water to the hot pan. Cook about 7-10 minutes to lightly brown.
- Put the butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat and add the onions and half of the cumin. Cook about 10 minutes until the onions are nice and soft.
- Add the garlic and ginger pastes, and the chili peppers. Stir to combine. Cook 2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have basically become a paste.
- Add in the spices including the rest of the cumin and cook 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to combine.
- Add in the gnocchi and cauliflower and stir to combine. Add in about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, along with the cream. Toss to combine, adding more pasta water if needed.
- Remove from heat and serve. Top with good olive oil and chopped cilantro.