I first tasted curried cauliflower at the home of a good friend when I was about 15. When she was just a little girl, her family had spent several months living in Mysore, India, studying yoga and Indian music, and developing their love of Indian food. Among the many things they brought home with them were an enhanced understanding of spices and the knowledge of how to prepare ghee (the Indian version of clarified butter.)
Although I admit I was skeptical at first since nothing in my life up to that point had prepared me to appreciate cauliflower and it may have been the first time I'd ever tried Indian food, all my doubts vanished at the first bite. What a wonderland of flavors!
So when I opened up our produce box yesterday (a feeling I find akin to that of unwrapping a Christmas present) and found a beautiful white cauliflower staring up at me, it was the first thing that popped into my head. We also received a huge bag of fresh, green (if muddy) spinach in the box and this curry sounded like a perfect way to use two produce box ingredients in one yummy dish.
If ghee is not available you can use either clarified butter, instead (or canola oil if you don't have time to clarify butter. )You can make this curry as mild or spicy as you like by simply adjusting the amount of chilis you use. I've included directions for toasting some of the spices whole as that will provide the best flavor but you can also use the powdered versions. And you can also shorten the cooking time by steaming the potatoes and cauliflower ahead of time if you prefer, just remember not to add as much (or maybe any) water as it won't be required to help them cook.
It goes very well with basmati rice, naan, or chapatis and a bowl of raita (yogurt and cucumber sauce) to cool it off.
Curried Cauliflower With Spinach & Ginger
* 3 Tbsps clarified butter or ghee (if that's too much trouble, you can also use vegetable oil)
* 1 cauliflower, washed, dried, and cut into bite-sized pieces (you can use the stem as well as the florets, just cut off the ends and anything that seems too tough and cut into pieces)
* 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
* 1 large onion, thinly sliced
* 2 tomatoes, washed and diced
* 1 bunch of spinach, washed, dried, and with stems removed
* 2 tsps minced garlic
* 1 tsp chopped or grated ginger
* 1 tsp chopped jalapeno pepper or a pinch of dried chili flakes (optional and to taste)
* 1 tsp black mustard seeds
* 1 tsp whole cumin seed
* 1 tsp ground coriander
* 2 tsps garam masala
* 1/2 tsp turmeric
* Sea salt
* Cilantro as garnish
* 1 - 1 1/2 cups water or stock, as needed
1. If you do not have ghee on hand, prepare the clarified butter (see directions here.)
2. Toast the whole mustard and cumin seeds over medium heat in a small cast iron skillet with a little oil. Cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Remove from the heat and transfer the toasted seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind into a powder (this should not be very difficult.) Combine with the other spices.
3. Heat the clarified butter/ghee/oil in a wide sautee pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the onion, season with salt and sautee until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, and chilis and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes until they begin to fall apart.
4. Add the ground spices to the pan and stir well. Throw in the potatoes and the cauliflower, add the water or stock, cover and cook for another 10-12 minutes until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.
5. Add the spinach leaves and cook until wilted. Taste the curry and adjust the seasonings as needed - you can add more garam masala, ground cumin seed, salt, etc. Serve garnished with cilantro.
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