One of my favourite vegetables is the humble cauliflower. I’ve found so many ways to cook with it and use it as a substitute for rice, couscous, pizza bases and mashed potato. My preferred way to eat it is spiced and as the star of the meal. I love Indian food but because restaurants cook everything in ghee, if I want Indian food I now have to cook it myself. To be honest, in France, that’s no bad thing. The French generally don’t like too spicy food so most of the curries served in restaurants are mild, but I love a bit of spice.
This recipe is one adapted from the incomparable Anna Jones. It’s cooked in coconut milk, given a punch with garlic, ginger and green chilli, and an earthiness from mustard seeds and turmeric. It can be served as a vegan main, or side.
Ingredients (serves four as a main course or eight as a side)
- 1 large cauliflower or 2 small ones
- 500g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
- 4 green chillies, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 500ml (2 cups) coconut milk
- 1 organic, unwaxed lemon, cut in half
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- small bunch coriander leaves
- handful flaked almonds, toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 7 (400F/350F).
2. Cut off the large leaves and stalks from the cauliflower, leaving the smaller leaves close to the florets. Using a large knife, slice it into large 2cm (2/4i n) steaks. Meanwhile cut the potatoes into 2cm (3/4 ins) chunks.
2. Take a frying pan (skillet) large enough to take the potatoes. Spoon in the coconut oil. Grate the ginger and garlic into the oil, add the chillies into the pan, then put over a medium heat. Let the spices and aromatics cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the mustard seeds and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, then add the turmeric powder and a big pinch of salt.
3. Pour the coconut milk into the spice mixture, stir well and season with a little black pepper. When the milk starts to bubble gently, turn off the heat. Put the drained potatoes into an ovenproof dish along with the cauliflower steaks, add the lemon halves into the side of the dish, then pour over the sauce.
4. Bake the dish for 40–45 minutes, basting it occasionally with the spiced sauce in the dish. It may catch a little on top. Test that the cauliflower is cooked by inserting a knife into the middle – it should be tender and the potatoes and cauliflower should have soaked up most of the sauce. Once it’s perfect, take it out of the oven. Transfer to a serving dish, then squeeze over the juice from the roasted lemons, scatter over the toasted almonds and coriander, and dig in!
Sheree’s Handy Hints
1. The original recipe par-boils the cauliflower and leaves it whole but I found that the sauce and spices didn’t fully penetrate, instead they were largely absorbed by the potatoes.
2. Non vegans could also spoon over some yoghurt to serve.
3. You could substitute the toasted almonds with toasted coconut flakes.
4. To increase the health benefits, add a tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric in stage 2.
4. I served it with some wholemeal flat bread.