I am moved to write about cauliflower for two reasons, (1) many people have asked for the recipe I mentioned in my last post for spicy cauliflower and (2) A Quebecois friend of mine told me this week that the price of cauliflower had rocketed in Canada to $8 Canadian and even more in some places. In Sterling, that’s £4 a piece. For a cauliflower! Apparently this is due to El Niño weirdness affecting the crop this year. At any rate, it has made me thankful that cauliflower is still going for £1 in my local Tesco and I am free to enjoy it without a pain in the wallet.
A recent discovery of an old recipe my Mum used to make has made me appreciate cauliflower anew. I’ve never really been that keen on cooked cauliflower, I love the peppery taste you get from the raw florets, but when served boiled as a side dish or even in cauliflower cheese (which I like but don’t love) I’m not a huge fan. I think the whiteness puts me off it a bit, I like colour on my plate. Anyway, back to Mum’s dish. It’s possibly adapted from Madhur Jaffrey as her (now Turmeric-stained and oil-splattered) book has been the Michie household’s Indian cuisine bible since the 1980s, but I think it has been modified enough to call it our own. It’s a dead easy recipe and the introduction of cumin seed, fresh green chilli, turmeric for that glorious bit of colour and ground cumin and coriander really lifts the vegetable to a new level. The brown bits where the cauliflower catches on the pan add a hit of lovely umami too. Be warned though, this dish is incredibly addictive. Don’t make it too far in advance or you’ll end up eating a bit every time you pass the pan, and making excuses to pass the pan too!
Mum’s Spicy Fried Cauliflower
- 1 large cauliflower broken into florets. If they are large florets, cut them in half lengthways
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or less if you don’t like it hot)
- 1 green birdseye chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced (again, cut it out or use half if you have low spice tolerance)
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1-2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
- Soak the cauliflower florets for half an hour in a big bowl of cold water
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle for 30 seconds or so
- Add the cauliflower and stir well so it is well coated in the cumin seeds
- Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring infrequently, until the cauliflower has plenty of lovely brown spots on it
- Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook for 6 minutes until the cauliflower is al dente
- Remove the cover and add the rest of the ingredients. Try and sprinkle the spices evenly so you don’t end up with one floret drenched in a particular spice. Stir well
- Serve as a side dish with curries. I like to serve it with daal and Lake Palace Aubergine or Gujarati beans (both Madhur Jaffrey specials) for a veggie curry feast. It’s also really nice with simple dishes like flattened breaded and pan-fried chicken breasts or veal escalope.