March 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s not that I don’t like Middle Eastern/East Asian spices. I love them. I just don’t know how to use them.
For me, adding a shake of tumeric or fenugreek isn’t like reaching for the thyme or oregano. There’s a feeling for proportion with these spices with which I am not yet familiar.
Cooking is about trying new things. So, I tried something new last night. Cauliflower Masala.
A few months ago when I was testing out names for blogs I thought would be appropriate for me, I typed in www.growcookeat.com into my little url space and – what do you know – someone already had that blog. A chef/urban gardener/consultant, Julia Shanks had already taken the perfect name. Turns out she’s in the Boston area, too. Julia, if you read this, we should meet up and talk about getting a jump on the gardening season.
Cruising around her site, I found a recipe I just had to put in my “to cook later” files. I love cauliflower (my mother was be aghast to hear that), and it’s about time I try my hand with Middle Eastern spices. The recipe seemed ultra-accessible, so why not?
Again, I made a few changes to the recipe due to only having a 1/2 head of cauliflower – hers calls for a whole head, no potato, one tomato and a whole onion. I kept the spice proportion the same.
- 1/2 head cauliflower, separated
2 potatoes, on the smaller side, cut into 3/4-in. chunks
1+ 1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped or diced
minced fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb to your first knuckle
1clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. brown mustard seed
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. turmeric
2 tomatoes, chopped – try to keep the juices if you can
1 fresh green chili, sliced
Salt to taste
-Toss cauliflower and potato with the olive oil and add a pinch of salt/twist of fresh pepper. Put on a baking sheet and roast in a 425F oven for 20 minutes.
-Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic and ginger in another 1 tbs. olive oil on med-low heat. Let it cook down until the onions are transparent – 5 minutes or so.
-While that is happening, rough chop the tomatoes. Instead of slicing, I minced the chili because I’m a wuss. But, I did mix the tomatoes and chili with a pinch of kosher salt and let them sit together until needed, letting the flavors meld together.
-When onions, garlic and ginger are nicely sauteed, add the spices, stir, and let them sit on low for a minute. Add the tomatoes and chili. Cover and let sit until cauliflower is done – no more than a couple of minutes.
-Time the cauliflower to come out just as the tomatoes go into the onions. Add the roasted veggies and mix the flavors together. Season with salt.
Oh my lord, it worked. The flavors were amazing. So simple and so QUICK. I’d serve it on top or alongside of cous cous or rice, but last night we had it on its own.
A note about proportions – I used half a cauliflower because that’s what we had and added in an extra tomato and the potatoes to make up for some of the bulk. Even with a whole head I would add in two tomatoes. The potatoes were good in it, too. The recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks, Julia.
P.S. Yes, my food photography sucks. It’s just my camera phone. But I’m in the process of researching cameras. Any suggestions?