Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Indian Feast Pt. 3: Hyderabad Cauliflower

I was really excited about the authentic-fusion character of this dish (and I use both those words very self-consciously).  In Indian Home Cooking, Suvir Saran talks about how this dish is a mixture of southern Indian flavors (especially the coconut and the cilantro) and northern/Mogul cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, etc.  And it really all does work together here.  The dish does not photograph well at all, but it tastes really wonderful.

This recipe was very saucy, and the sauce was delicious.  However, I think the recipe might have been geared towards a larger cauliflower.  As it was, half of the coconut milk called for was more than enough.  Even reducing the coconut milk, as well as the oil, this was a silky, rich dish.  The cauliflower achieved a texture that was soft and almost melty, and the cinnamon, cardamom, and shredded coconut all suggest "sweetness" as well.  Then again, the mint, cilantro, and ginger add refreshing brightness.  There's not very much heat in this recipe--just enough to bring out the flavors, but not so much that you'd think, "it's spicy."

I almost never cook with red onions, but both this recipe and the one for baingan bharta called for them.  Are they milder?  Or simply prettier?

Some final notes: I omitted the mustard seeds and curry leaves.  And, you really need very small florets of cauliflower--these need to be bite-sized, remember.

Finally, I really liked how front-loaded the cooking is: you have to make two "pastes" before really starting, and then most of your prep work is done for you.

Onion-Coconut-Cardamom Paste; Green Chili Paste

I've totally failed to take a decent-looking photo of this dish, but you can look ahead to my next post for another shot of all these dishes together.

Hyderabad Cauliflower

onion-coconut paste:
 1 large red onion, chopped
1/4 c shredded coconut
2 pods cardamom
2 TB water
green paste:
1/4 c mint leaves, chopped
1/4 c cilantro leaves, chopped
1 hot green chile, chopped
1 TB water
2-3 TB c canola oil
2 1-in pieces cinnamon
4 pods cardamom
4 whole cloves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp nigella seeds
1.5-in piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small (bite-sized) florets
1 c coconut milk
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 TB chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a small food processor, blend together ingredients for onion-coconut paste; set aside.  Then blend together ingredients for green paste; set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, and nigella over medium heat.  Cook several minutes, then add onion-coconut paste and 1 tsp salt.  Cook 5-7 minutes.
3. Add ginger and garlic; cook 3 minutes.  Add cauliflower; cook 5 minutes.
4. Add coconut milk, ground cumin, cayenne, and green paste; cook 5 minutes.  Then add garam masala; cook 3 minutes more.  Garnish with cilantro.  Serves about 4.

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