Friday, 11 September 2015

Recipe: cauliflower and almond curry

Cauliflower is very fashionable nowadays, in fact one amazon 'reviewer' of my book V is for Vegan said he judges all cookbooks by whether they had a cauliflower recipe in it! Apparently my book failed the cauliflower test. Oh well. If I'd known it was a criteria...
Some people don't like cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, so a curried cauliflower is a good option because it covers up the taste! I also tried out a couple of new products I've been sent a few months ago, HolyLama spice drops and Amira basmati rice. (This is not a sponsored post, I'm not being paid to write this. I feel I have to explain this as so many blogs carry sponsored posts nowadays and I don't.)
This recipe is inspired by a cauliflower recipe in Camellia Panjabi's 50 great curries of India. (Get it, it's brilliant.)
She advises using authentic Indian Kashmiri chillies and while five may seem a lot, they are mild and merely give depth of flavour. I ordered mine from Amazon.

Cauliflower and almond curry

This recipe is a cinch if you have a powerful blender like a vitamix or a food processor to make the onion, tomato, coconut 'gravy'.

Time to prep and cook: 30 to 40 minutes

Serves 4

Vegetable or groundnut oil or coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5cm fresh ginger, peeled, diced finely
4 tomatoes, quartered
half a pack of creamed coconut
5 dried Indian chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick
4 peppercorns or 2 drops Holy Lama Spice Drops in black pepper flavour
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cm nub of fresh turmeric or 1 tbsp of ground turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp tamarind paste
50g flaked almonds
1 whole cauliflower, leaves removed, cut into largish florets (not too small)

Using a deep saute pan or frying pan, add the onions, fry in a little oil, until soft then put aside in a small bowl.
Do the same with the garlic and ginger, fry briefly, put aside in the same small bowl.
Boil a kettle and soften the creamed coconut in its plastic bag, in a heatproof jug full of boiled water.
Using the same frying pan, temper the chillies, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, turmeric, paprika. Temper is the proper word for briefly frying or toasting these spices to bring out the flavour.
In your blender or food processor, put the onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, creamed coconut, chillies, spices and tamarind paste. Grind until smooth.
Put the paste back into the deep frying pan.
You can add the raw cauliflower florets if you don't mind them a little crunchy in texture but you could also pop a colander over the boiling rice and slightly steam the cauliflower to soften it.
Then add the cauliflower and almonds to the spice/coconut paste and heat up gently. Add water or coconut milk if you want the sauce to be more liquid. Salt to taste.
Serve with white rice, and a yoghurt and cucumber raitha.
This curry like all curries, tastes even better the following day.

Amira Basmati rice

This stuff is well posh; lovely aromatic long basmati grains. All the top Indian restaurants, like Gymkhana, use Amira and you can buy it in most UK supermarkets. I've cooked it a couple of times before and it was either too hard or too soft. This time I succeeded but I used a rice steamer. You must soak it first for at least half an hour then rinse it a few times until the water is clear. I think the amount of water you use in the cooking is crucial, not too much or too little. Here is a link to a post on how to cook basmati. I really don't know enough about basmati rice: I need to visit India to find out.
I used the saffron Holy Lama spice drops to flavour the cooked rice. The cheap way of making basmati look like pilao (pulao) is to add a pinch of yellow food colouring then fork it through. Or you can pound a few strands of real saffron in a mortar and add it that way. The spice drops worked well, adding flavour but not colour however.


  1. I have the spice drops but I haven't used them yet. Every time I come to use them I don't want to because I feel I'm missing out on the look and the feel of the real spices. They're so beautiful, and so nice to touch and toast and grind. The husks of cardamom pods for example, or spiky little cloves. I guess the advantage is they don't go stale in the same way as actual spices do.

    1. I agree, I personally prefer to work with fresh spices. The saffron was good, the black pepper seemed a bit of a waste of time and the garlic one was bitter, I prefer fresh garlic. But I can imagine they'd be good if you were doing molecular cuisine.

  2. It was the word Marmite which drew me in and I'm glad it did...Love cauliflower so this curry sounds like a must try..thank you for sharing :)

  3. Will be making this one - sometimes hard to find a vegan recipe which will keep my teen happy that everyone will eat, otherwise end up cooking two meals. Edible flowers in pasta.... have got to try that too.

  4. I've made this three times now and my husband just hoovers it up. It also went down well with friends who a committed carnivores and treat vegetarian and vegan food with great suspicion.

    1. So gratifying to hear this. Thanks for the feedback xx

    2. Have made this sauce again today, It really is a good standby to have in the fridge for getting home late at night. All you have to do is add pre-steamed veggies for a wholesome and hearty meal. I know the ethos with this is vegan, but I'll be trying it again in future with either chunks of white fish or prawns together with the almonds. It would not be the same without them.

    3. Yes I think it would work well with fish x


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