Cauliflower curry

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It was exciting to find such a variety of vegetarian dishes in India in the 1970s, when the western world was largely meat orientated. In particular, I learnt how to transform cauliflower, by smearing florets with spices and oil and roasting them. As the main ingredient in a curry, cauliflower can be as good as chicken. If you are able to find curry leaves, add a few with the tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large cauliflower
  • 5 cm piece fresh root ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • 300 g medium tomatoes (plum variety if available)
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 level teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 rounded teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon black onion seeds
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • juice of 1 orange
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • sea salt

Method

Heat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3. Divide the cauliflower into smallish florets. Peel the ginger and garlic. Cut open the chillies under running water and discard the seeds and stems. Chop the ginger, garlic and chillies together finely. Cut a small slit in the tomatoes, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave for 2-3 minutes, then drain, peel and cut the tomatoes in half lengthways.

Heat the sunflower oil in a fairly large, heavy flameproof casserole over a low heat. Stir in the turmeric, ground coriander, cumin and onion seeds, followed by the chopped ginger, garlic and chillies. Stir over the heat for a minute, then add the cauliflower florets and stir around in the spice mixture. Take off the heat and place the halved tomatoes amongst the cauliflower. Pour in the lemon and orange juices and sprinkle with some salt.

Cover the casserole, bring up to bubbling point on the hob, then transfer to the centre of the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes. Before serving, finely chop the coriander leaves and scatter over the curry.

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