Cauliflower Curry Feast

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

By Cat, Jan 2008  (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Curry is a very common dish in India and Pakistan. They can be very spicy (hot) or mildly spicy; either way, they are always best when the whole spice is freshly ground. I have a Revel electric spice grinder from India that works very well and I can highly recommend it (photo, left, from Amazon.com).

Cauliflower has an amazing affinity for curry and is an excellent accompaniment to Tandoori Chicken or other curried meats. I like to serve the curry with lots of sides:

 

Ideas for Sides to Accompany a Curry Feast

  • Steamed brown or white rice (NOTE: while brown rice has greater nutritional value than white rice, the recently revealed contamination of rice with high levels arsenic (a toxic heavy metal) from chemical fertilizers has caused me to switch back to Organic white basamati rice. The removal of the bran and germ from brown rice to make white rice significantly reduces the amount of arsenic in the rice).
  • Cucumber Raita (Its coolness is a nice balance for the heat of the curry)
  • Chopped dried fruit such as apricots, cherries, dates, and plums tossed with shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Sections of tangerine, satsuma, mandarin or regular oranges
  • Slices of banana
  • Peanuts and/or Cashews
  • Chutney and other Lacto-fermented condiments 
  • Dal or Lentils (especially if this is a vegetarian meal)
  • Naan, Pita, or another Flatbread

You can also serve Cauliflower Curry as a side dish with baked or grilled fish, such as salmon, halibut, sea bass, or cod.

Notes on Ingredients

I prefer to get all my ingredients ready before I start to cook them, as the cooking all goes quite fast and doesn’t leave opportunity to prepare an ingredient.

Cauliflower: Choose a head that is firm and not too blemished.  Cut away the blemished flowerettes.  Cauliflower can be stored in a cool place such as a root cellar or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for a long time.  I much prefer fresh to frozen cauliflower.

Potato or Peas:  If you use the potato in this dish, skip the peas, and vice versa.  Snow or sugar snap peas, cut into ¾” lengths can be used instead of shelled peas, if desired.

Tomatoes If you cannot find ripe fresh tomatoes, use a small can of chopped Organic tomatoes (Muir Glen is my favorite brand, but home-canned is best).

Legumes: Best if sprouted 2 – 3 days before hand. Chickpeas and lentils are very traditional choices.

Ginger: In a pinch, you can use powdered ginger, but curry is much more flavorful if you use freshly grated or finely minced ginger root. See Spices G – Z for more on ginger.

Revel spice grinder

SpicesYou can use all, or just a selection of the listed spices.  Alternately, you can use a curry spice blend known as Garam Masala.  See also Spices A – F and Spices G – Z for more info on many of the spices used in curries.

Traditional Garam Masala contains cinnamon, cumin, caraway, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg; modern blends may also contain dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves and fennel.

If you use the mustard seeds, you must first pop them in a hot cast iron skillet.

Ghee: ghee is a form of clarified butter that you can make yourself, or is available for purchase in most Natural food stores.  Olive oil can be used instead of ghee in this recipe.

Leftover fish or chicken:  If you have some leftovers you need to use up, you can stir them into the curry when you add the potato or peas, to warm them.  If using fish, flake it into bite-sized pieces; if using chicken, tear or cut it into bite-sized pieces.  I especially like leftover salmon or sea bass with the curry.

Basic Cauliflower Curry

This recipe is adapted from two versions of Cauliflower Curry in The Vegetarian Epicure (1), and The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two (2), both by Anna Thomas.  Cauliflower has an amazing affinity for curry and I think you’ll really like this.  I like to serve this with lots of sides (see above).

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 small potato (optional)
  • 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen peas (optional)
  • 2 medium ripe, fresh tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • ½ yellow or red onion, slivered
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cup filtered water (or juice from canned tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Spices:
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • Equipment:
  • 12″ cast iron skillet or 3 -quart saucier, with lid
  • wooden spoon

Method:

  1. Prep: Wash & rinse cauliflower: remove outer leaves; break the head into flowerettes, each about the size of a quarter and with just a short stem.  Set aside.
  2. If using a potato: scrub (do not peel); parboil in salted water until just barely tender (a toothpick inserted requires a tug to remove).  When cool enough to handle, cut potato into ½” cubes and set aside.
  3. Mince garlic, chop onion.  Set aside.
  4. If using fresh peas, shuck from pods; and rinse peas (toss pods into your compost collection).  If using frozen peas, you do not need to thaw them first. Set aside.
  5. Wash & rinse tomato and cilantro; chop and set aside together.  If using canned tomato, pour off most of the liquid and reserve for use as part of the water.
  6. Measure all desired spices (except mustard seeds) into a small cup or bowl and stir to combine.  (Or 1 – 2 Tbsp Garam Masala). Set aside.
  7. Juice lemon and add juice to water (or reserved tomato juice).
  8. Now you are ready to start cooking.  Line up your prepared ingredients in order of using: Oil, mustard seeds, spice mix, garlic & onions, cauliflower, salt, water & lemon juice, cauliflower, potatoes or peas, leftover meat (if using), and tomatoes & cilantro
  9. Heat oil or ghee in a 12″ cast iron skillet or 3-quart saucier, over medium-high heat.  Add mustard seeds (if using) and warm them a few minutes until all have popped.  Stir in remaining spices and saute 3 – 4 minutes, stirring constantly so they do not burn.
  10. Add garlic & onions, and saute until onion begins to wilt, stirring frequently.
  11. Add cauliflower florets and saute 4 – 5 minutes more.  Add salt, water (or juice from canned tomatoes), and lemon juice; give it a stir; then allow the cauliflower to steam, covered, for 5 minutes.
  12. Add potatoes or peas and simmer 7 – 10 minutes.  If adding leftover fish or chicken add it with the potatoes or peas.  Add tomatoes & cilantro at last minute and stir to warm them.
  13. Serve.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with steamed brown or white rice and a wide selection of accompaniments (see list at top of this page).  A cooling cucumber raita is a must.
  • Spoon curry onto a large serving platter.  Arrange fillets of baked, steamed, poached or grilled fish over the top of the curry and garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

Cauliflower Curry with Chickpeas

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking.com’s South Indian-Style Vegetable Curry recipe, and serves 6. It’s best if your sprout the chickpeas (garbanzos) for 2-3 days, then lightly steam them for 15-20 minutes before making this dish.

Not yet tested, but this promises to be delicious.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Veggies:
  • ⅓ cup dried chickpeas (soaked or sprouted to make about 1 cup)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2″ piece fresh ginger (1 Tbsp grated/minced)
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (about 4 cups cubed)
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes (about 3 cups cubed)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 1.5 cups chopped)
  • 2 large carrots (about 1 cup, cut up)
  • ¼ lb baby spinach (about 4 cups, lightly packed)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 fresh lime
  • Spices:
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • ½ Tbsp (1 ½ tsp) ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • Other ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1 Tbsp homemade tomato paste or commercial tomato paste
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or veggie broth
  • ⅔ cup coconut milk diluted with water to make 1 cup (do not use light coconut milk)
  • one 3″ cinnamon stick
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Equipment:
  • 6 quart Dutch oven with lid
  • wooden spoon

Method

  1. Prep: Sprout chickpeas until a tiny tail appears, 2 – 3 days. Rinse well and place in a steamer basket and steam over boiling water for 15- 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare fresh veggies: Finely dice/chop onion. Peel and mince garlic; grate or mince ginger and add to garlic.
  3. Wash & rinse cauliflower: remove outer leaves; break the head into flowerettes, each about the size of a quarter and with just a short stem.
  4. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1″ cubes.
  5. Wash, seed, then chop tomatoes.
  6. Scrub or peel carrots and cut into ½” thick rounds. Combine with cauli, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
  7. Wash & rinse spinach; set aside
  8. Grate lime to make 1 tsp zest; then squeeze to make 2 Tbsp juice
  9. Wash & rinse cilantro; chop; set aside.
  10. Measure & combine ground spices.
  11. Cooking the Curry:
  12. Heat oil/ghee in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally about 3 – 4 minutes until begins to brown. Reduce heat to medium or lower if necessary and cook until richly browned, 5 – 7 minutes more.
  13. Add garlic & ginger; cook, stirring, 1 minute to blend flavors. Add spices, and stir for 30 seconds to toast.
  14. Add tomato paste and stir until well blended, about 1 minutes.
  15. Add broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  16. Add cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes & carrots. Raise heat to medium high and return to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer until veggies are tender, 20-25 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
  17. Stir in chickpeas, spinach, lime juice & zest; cook until spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste and garnish with cilantro.
  18. Serve.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with steamed brown rice and a wide selection of accompaniments (see list at top of this page).  A cooling cucumber raita is a must.

References:

  1. The Vegetarian Epicure Books One and Two, by Anna Thomas; see Beloved Cookbooks for more detail.
  2. Fine Cooking: finecooking.com/recipes/south-indian-style-vegetable-curry.aspx

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