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


  • 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


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.


The Musette: vegan mushroom risotto

I like a challenge! A good friend told me you couldn’t make a decent risotto without dairy. I beg to differ and she’s now a convert. How did I achieve that? Here’s how. Don’t be put off by the length of the recipe, it’s easier than it might appear. Just follow the individual steps.

The recipe comes from the Plants Taste Better cookbook by Richard Buckley, though I have tweaked it a bit.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

Double mushroom stock

  • 11/2 ltrs (2 1/2 pints/ 6 1/4 cups) mushroom stock (see recipe below)
  • 50g (1 3/4 oz) dried porcini mushrooms

Mushroom puree

  • 40ml (8 tsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 190g (6 3/4 oz) chestnut mushrooms
  • 115ml (1/2 cup) ruby port
  • 30g (1 1/4 oz) dried porcini mushrooms (reserved from double mushroom stock)
  • 12ml (2 1/2 tsp) red wine vinegar
  • 15ml (1 tsp) truffle oil
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) double mushroom stock (reserved from above)


  • 200g (7oz) fresh cep mushrooms
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) fresh chestnut mushrooms
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) fresh girolle mushrooms
  • 75ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 100g (1/2 cup) finely diced shallots
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, pureed
  • 350g (1 3/4 cups) carnaroli rice
  • double mushroom stock (see above)

Mushroom stock (for double mushroom stock)

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 250g (9oz) chestnut mushrooms
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 15g (4 tbsp) fresh flat-leafed parsley, including stalks
  • 5g (1 tbsp) fresh thyme, including stalks
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 2 ltrs filtered water
  • 25g (7/8oz) dried porcini mushrooms


1. Chop onion, carrot, celery and chestnut mushrooms into similarly sized pieces. Put all the ingredients, except the dried porcini mushrooms, into a lidded saucepan. Bring gentle to a rolling boil which should take around 20 minutes.

2. Once boiling, simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

3. Immediately add the dried porcini mushrooms, ensuring that they are submerged in the stock. Cover the saucepan with cling film (plastic wrap).

4. Leave the stock to cool completely, then drain off through a large sieve into a clean saucepan. Discard the peppercorns, thyme stalks and bay leaves. Keep the vegetables and mushrooms to make a delicious vegan mushroom soup with the addition of filtered water and some oat milk.

5. Having made the mushroom stock, now make the double mushroom stock. Bring the stock (above) back to the boil, add the dried mushrooms, turn off heat and clamp on the pan lid for around 30 minutes, allowing the mushrooms to steep.

6. After 30 minutes, pour the stock once more through a sieve and retain the reflated dried mushrooms for the mushroom puree.

7. Now make the puree by heating the olive oil in a wide-based saucepan. Add the sliced chestnut mushrooms and sweat over a high heat until all the juices have evaporated. Add the ruby port and reduce until you’re left with a thick syrup. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender.

8. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and blend until silky smooth, only add a little filtered water if absolutely necessary. It should have a ribbon like quality (see above).

9. Prepare and cook the mushrooms for the risotto. If using fresh, ensure that you clean them thoroughly with a small brush and/or damp cloth. Do not wash them! However, if you can’t find fresh, feel free to use frozen or bottled. Add 50 ml (1/4 cup) of the olive oil to a large frying pan (skillet) and cook over a high heat, adding salt to taste, until cooked through and no liquid remains. Keep warm.

10. Now it’s time for the risotto. Heat the double mushroom stock, bringing it up to a gentle simmer. Heat the remaining olive oil in another frying pan (skillet), add the shallot and fry gently until translucent. Now do the same with the garlic. Add the rice and stir well to coat the grains in the oil.

11. Add four ladles of mushroom stock to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until it has almost disappeared. Now, keep adding stock a ladle at a time, until the rice is almost but not quite cooked through, 15-20 minutes. You may not need all of the stock but if you need more, just add hot water. The risotto should be thick, creamy and stiff.

12. The risotto should now be almost ready. Add the fried mushrooms and remove from the heat. Add the mushroom puree and stir well to combine both. Taste and adjust, if necessary, the seasoning. Divide between four bowls, add a sprinkle of fresh parsley, a spritz of truffle oil and serve the ambrosial feast.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. The trick to really well-cooked mushrooms is to use a large pan over a high heat so that they don’t stew in their own juices. If possible try to cook the mushrooms at the same time as you’re cooking the risotto mix so that you can combine when the rice is ready.

2. You could of course use a mushroom stock cube to which you add the dried mushrooms to make the double stock.

3. You can change the mix of mushrooms, just don’t use those tasteless white button mushrooms.

4. If you can avoid it, do not substitute the dried porcini (cep) mushrooms or truffle oil. These give the dish depth and a lot of umami.

5. Unless you advise your guests, no one will be able to tell that this is a vegan risotto. I have served this to Italians who were gob-smacked to discover it contained no dairy. Indeed, they pronounced it the best they’d ever eaten. Praise indeed!

6. You could make everything except the risotto in advance and heat through on the day.