Friday, October 5, 2007

Gloria's Spicy Cauliflower with Ginger

I love Indian food. I was lucky to spend two weeks in Bangalore a couple of years ago, and had wonderful meals in that city and while traveling on a daytrip to Mysore on New Year's Day. The fragrant aromas and heady flavors were so much more intense and fresh than any Indian food I've had in the US, and the meals were deliciously satisfying regardless of whether they were at an upscale restaurant or a quaint spot favored by locals. And contrary to popular belief among many back here in the US, it ain't all curry! The variety of intriguing dishes, tastes, textures and aromas kept me from ever getting bored.

Here is a simple vegetarian recipe that's inspired by Indian cuisine. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you'd like by adjusting the amount of red pepper. When short on time, I use frozen cauliflower florets. The fresh gingerroot is essential: you'll need about 2 inches of gingerroot that's about 3/4 inch in diameter, which will grate down into 4 teaspoons. Some specialty grocery stores carry small bottles of fresh grated gingerroot, which will work in a pinch although the flavor won't be as intense. Ghee is Indian clarified butter, and can be found in specialty stores and Indian markets. If you don't have ghee, just use regular vegetable cooking oil (not olive oil).

1 large cauliflower head, broken into small florets (6 cups) OR 6 cups frozen cauliflower florets, defrosted
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs Ghee or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp fennel seed
4 tsp grated gingerroot
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 to 1/3 cup unsalted cashew pieces (see note)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
2 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro

Melt the ghee (or heat the oil) in a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-high heat. You'll know it's hot enough if it sizzles when you toss in a fennel seed. Add the fennel seeds and stir for 30 to 60 seconds or until the seeds are browned. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the grated gingerroot, turmeric, salt and red pepper to taste. Add the cauliflower florets and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and cover. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium, remove cover and sautee for 3 to 5 minutes until any remaining water has evaporated. Stir in the cashews, lemon juice and cilantro. Serves 6 to 8 (or 4 as a main course with Basmati rice).

Note: I like to dry-roast the cashews in a small pan until lightly browned, to bring out more flavor before adding to the cauliflower. I love cashews, so I use more rather than less.

Zestfully yours,

PS: If you love curry, check out Nando's Curry Coconut Cooking and Grilling Sauce, an award-winning exotic and versatile South African sauce!

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