Friday, 3 May 2013

Cauliflower - Don't boil, roast!

Seeming a little like broccoli's unfortunate anaemic looking cousin, in the UK, cauliflower is normally either boiled to smithereens in school canteens (it was in mine) or smothered in cheese sauce (nothing wrong this this at all). That's not much excitement for anyone. Indians know how to treat a cauliflower with respect though, and they understand how well it works with a little help from a bit of spice. I absolutely love them deep fried as pakoras, but that can make your kitchen smell a bit and sometimes you just can't be faffed to have a pan of boiling oil bubbling away, waiting for you to knock it off the hob (oh yes, that did happen once. Oil slick ahoy. And we had guests). Roasting cauliflower was a revelation, sprinkle it with chilli and cumin seeds and you can have it with curry, rub it with paprika and garlic and you've gone to Spain. A tiny bit of ground cinnamon and almond flakes with fresh mint and coriander a la Eattori and you've got a perfect and spunky accompaniment to fish, the possibilities are (almost) endless.

This recipe is what I would eat with curry as a healthier alternative to pakoras, but go nuts, use what you have and elevate the humble cauliflower to a new and exciting status.

Feeds two generously. Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Remove outer leaves from one whole head of cauliflower,  discard the tough leaves but keep the softer thinner ones from inside. Break/cut the florets away from the stalk and slice the upper third of the stalk into rounds about half a centimetre thick. Take a baking try and tumble the cauliflower (and leaves) in, slightly drizzle with olive oil, don't soak it, and combine with half a tsp turmeric, and a tbsp of garam masala. Toss really well and season. Bake for about 15 minutes and check on progress. You want the edges to go brown but the veg to retain a tiny bit of bite. If it looks a bit burny and raw turn the temperature down and put the tray in the bottom of the oven. Cover with foil if you're worried. When cooked, toss with a handful fresh coriander and if you want, a squeeze of lemon.

This is so good with roast chicken, you can play with the flavours as much as you like, to your taste. Just promise to never boil it again!


  1. It was a complete revelation when I discovered roast cauliflower. Though must add, most vegetables become suddenly exciting and amazing when roasted. Love the touch of spice and lemon, favourite way to jazz things up!

    (p.s. I do like boiled cauliflower though, kill me now)

  2. Ah Shu Han I'll let you off as all your other food is insanely exciting!