Did you know that there is a whole cookbook and blog (the blog actually came first) dedicated to $5 dinners? Erin’s blog is great and has a lot of very healthy looking meals, but, from a kosher perspective, many of her meals unfortunately don’t work for me. Sure, I can modify them, but that inevitably pushes the price tag over $5.
So, when we’re looking at very inexpensive meals, our preference is to go vegetarian. In fact, we eat milchigs (or pareve) pretty much every weeknight, saving beef and chicken for Shabbat.
We often enjoy super frugal dinners that are based either on beans, legumes and lentils, or on potatoes. On sale, we can buy 10 lbs of potatoes for $.99 (non-organic) or 5 lbs for $2.49 (organic). Beans are fairly frugal even canned, but a bag of dried beans is really the way to go if you can find the time. A bag costs less than $1, and produces four or five cans worth.
At a recent sheva brachot (Mazal Tov, Joseph & Alice!), the incomparable hostess (hi, Katie!) served a delicious selection of vegetarian Indian fare, reminding me (a) how much we like Indian food, and (b) what an incredibly frugal way it is to serve both potatoes and lentils/beans.
In the spirit of that yummy Sheva Brachot, I wanted to share with you today my all-time favorite Indian dish: Aloo Gabi. It’s a combination of potatoes and cauliflower, with some onion, herbs and spices. I usually serve it with a lentil dal and vegetable rice. But if I’m short on time, Aloo Gabi is great with a yogurt raita – which is also fairly frugal.
Before sharing the recipe, I want to share with you my favorite online resource for Indian cooking: Manjuli’s Kitchen. It’s a video-based Indian cooking blog, where all the recipes are vegetarian — and 90% of them even vegan. If you want to incorporate more Indian cooking into your weekly diet, you will LOVE Manjuli’s Kitchen.
Now, without further ado, here’s my favorite $5-or-under dinner: Aloo Gabi.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 small onion, quartered then sliced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger (or more to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala*
- 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (On sale, a head of cauliflower is around $1 or less in Kansas. If you only eat frozen, this may push the price higher.)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot. Fry the cumin seeds until they turn golden brown and begin to pop. (If you don’t have cumin seeds, you can substitute cumin powder for fairly similar results. Add it with the other spices.)
- Reduce heat to medium, and stir in the onion, sauteeing until golden brown. Stir in ginger, and saute for another minute. Add with coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and garam masala and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add potatoes and salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding a bit of water as necessary if it’s sticking.
- Once tender, stir in lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of oil. Heat on high for three more minutes to brown, but be careful not to mash the potatoes and cauliflower.
*You can buy garam masala at many grocery stores, or you can mix up your own. Store it in a glass jar and it will last for several months. Here’s a garam masala recipe, if you need one.
Okay, now it’s your turn to share: What’s your favorite super frugal dinner recipe? ($5 or under for the meal is my definition of “super frugal”, but don’t feel obliged to stick to that.)