It was long ago, at a stall in the Saturday Night Market in Westfield Shopping Center in Auckland that the first coloured cauliflower varieties were spotted. Vivid and distinct in both appearance and appeal, the purple, green and orange cauliflower heads were piled up in a neat row alongside organic mescul mixes, blood-orange carrots and silver beet bunches, practically begging to be picked up. With suggestions from the vendor’s friendly wife – who was even kind enough to hand down a recipe for silverbeet muffins – the family picked up the silverbeet, purple cauliflower, some red carrots, as we waddled our way across to other inviting stalls, where the aromas of homegrown mandarins and gingerroot blended vivaciously with those of piquant Pavich berries and flattering Oratia feijoas. A variety of things were dished out later in big sister’s sunny little kitchen with the finds – a mixed vegetable pickle with the purple cauliflower and red carrots, silverbeet sambhar to dunk everyone’s favourite mini-idlis in, and a refreshing feijoa-mandarin cooler that seemed to slake us even on a typical rainy day in the Land of the Long Cloud.
Eight years later, the initial sightings of the irresistable coloured cauliflower heads came in from a corner of a Mexican market bin in a quaint US town in Indiana. With a sizeable stock of Khana Khazana’s Gobhi Shalgam pickle already in the pantry, and the oven-baked Gobhi Musallam recipe that had become a little too familiar, was there something we could do differently with the chubby old chou-fleur? After rehashing all the ideas that presented themselves, including a finespun French au gratin and spiced Spanish tapas, a spicy, gingery sabzi was born, and it’s been a hot favourite with our friends and families ever since.
Grated Cauliflower with Peas
- 1 Small-medium cauliflower
- 2 Tablespoons light olive oil
- 1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida/hing
- 1 Onion, chopped – about 1.5 cups
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
The spice array –
- ½ Teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne
- ½ Teaspoon turmeric
- 1 Teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ Teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 Teaspoons kasuri methi(Dried fenugreek leaves)
- Salt to taste
- 2 Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Cup frozen peas, thawed
- ½ Teaspoon garam masala
- ½ Teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder), or a teaspoon of lemon juice
- Grate the cauliflower using the shredding disc of a food processor or on the larger side of a box grater and set aside. It is important here to have long shreds rather than a powdery mince.
- Warm the olive oil in a deep non-stick saucepan or kadhai. Add the cumin seeds and wait until they start to sizzle and darken before adding the asafoetida and onions. Let the onions cook for a while on low heat, stirring occasionally. Once they turn golden, put in the ginger, and after a minute, all the spices and salt. Stir the mixture for a few seconds, and then add the tomatoes. Once the masala has dried up, stir often to avoid burning, and roast for a couple of minutes.
- Next, add the cauliflower with the peas, stir well to mix everything and cover the pan briefly to let the vegetables cook. Then take the lid off and let the dish roast on high heat until done, stirring often to avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Mix in the garam masala and turn off the heat before adding the amchur or lemon.