The Musette: vegan “butter” cauliflower

One of my beloved’s favourite Indian dishes is butter chicken but could I make a vegan version that would satisfy us both, since neither butter nor chicken figure in my regime? Instead of chicken, I’ve used a whole roasted cauliflower and then made appropriate changes to the sauce to make the dish both vegan and plant-based. And, you know what? It’s delicious!

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

Whole roasted cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured coconut oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • sea salt
  • juice from 1/2 organic lemon

Sauce

  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger
  • 3 fat cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 400g (14oz) fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) filtered water
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured coconut oil

Method

1.Pre-heat oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 (375°F/350°F fan).  Carefully rinse the cauliflower, leaving the last few outer leaves.

2. Mix all the dry spices with oil and lemon juice, season with salt. Brush the cauliflower with the spiced oil mix.

3. Place the cauliflower in a cast iron pan or skillet, add 2 tbsp water to the bottom of the skillet and roast it covered for up to 20 minutes.

4. Uncover the cauliflower and baste the cauliflower with any oil and spice drippings from the bottom of the pan.

5. Roast the cauliflower for  a further 20-30 minutes until it’s golden brown and tender in the core.

6. Begin the sauce whilst the cauliflower is roasting. Mince the garlic and ginger and peel and slice the onions thinly.

7. Heat the oil on a medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander and salt until the onion has softened. This is the point where you add the chili powder if you want it spicy.

8. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

9. Using a stick blender, blend the sauce until smooth, add further seasonings to taste. Pour it into the pot with the cauliflower and let it heat through for another 5-7 minutes.


10. Serve the “butter chicken” with whole-grain basmati rice studded with raisins, chickpeas and pistachios, a few spicy pickles, a sprinkle of chopped coriander and a dollop of plant-based yoghurt.


Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.I generally make much more sauce than  I need so that I can freeze some for next time, and then I’ll have dinner ready in no time. Also, the flavours get better over time.

2. You can substitute cauliflower for broccoli (25% shorter cooking time) or root celery (25% longer cooking time) or romanesco (same cooking time).

3. You can substitute fresh tomatoes and tomato paste with a similar weight of canned tomatoes.

4. Feel free to make it even spicier with more chilli.

5. If you’d like the sauce to  be creamier, add some plant-based oat cream or yoghurt to taste.