I have a friend who says cauliflower sucks, because it smells like farts. Touché, my friend. In a ‘recent’ trip to my local Sunday market, I bought this cauliflower. It ended up relegated to the back of my fridge for a little too long. Like, a couple of weeks too long. This one smelled a little farty before I roasted it.
When I eventually pulled it out, I have to say I was surprised at the fact it wasn’t completely dead. So, as I do, I looked on the internet for inspiration. I found Eyal Shani had taken over the world with his recipe for cauliflower, a whole-roasted head to be exact. Everyone seems to be doing it. So, I took that inspiration, cut it in half and added whatever I had sitting around. Cue my favourite recipe to date. Not only is it delicious and rich, it’s also a vegan dish. Well, it was vegan until I sprinkled it with broken feta. So, if you’re that way inclined, have at it vegans!
I added Indian spices and created a rub for the half-head. It turned out to be a richly messy mixture of Indian spices atop of a mild, tender head of cauliflower. If you want to give it a go, it’s easy. Cleaning is too, given it’s a one-pan wonder and I ate it straight out of the pan.
Time: 1 hour, approx. 10 minutes prep.
Serves two, or one hungry hippo (me).
- One medium-sized cauliflower, leaved trimmed, halved
- Vegetable oil, with a high-smoking point (I used sunflower oil)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic
- Small knob of ginger, peeled
- 2 tsp black mustard seeds
- handful of curry leaves
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 small finger of fresh turmeric (2 tsp of powdered turmeric will do)
- half of one red chilli
- 1 can of tomatoes
- freshly ground pepper
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Small chunk of sheep’s feta (any feta will do)
Heat fan-forced oven on 200.
Place your oven-safe pan on a high heat, with oil and 1 tsp of cumin seeds. Be careful not to burn the seeds. Before they get the chance, place the cauliflower stalk down into the pan. Cook until the stalk is browned and crispy.
While the cauliflower sizzles, gather turmeric, garlic, remaining cumin, chili, olive oil and ginger and blitz in a food processor or pound in a mortar with pestle until a thick-ish paste forms.
Without burning your fingertips, rub cauliflower with mixture and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
In another pan, add some more oil and fry handful of curry leaves with mustard seeds and garam masala. Once wilted and fragrant, add tomatoes. Cook on a medium heat, and reduce. Taste, add some honey or a small amount of sugar if you desire.
Check on cauliflower.
Stab the stalk with a knife, to check how tender it is. If it’s soft already, feel free to expedite the process and skip to the next step.
If it’s nice and crispy, cover with tinfoil and put back in the oven for 20 more minutes. If not, continue to check on the cauliflower, to make sure the florets don’t burn too much while you achieve your ideal texture.
Pull out the cauliflower and pour tomato concoction around the mixture and serve immediately with green garnish. If you’re using feta, sprinkle on top too.