I had spent all day thinking about what I should cook tonight.  I knew I wanted to use up the veggies I had in the fridge as I knew they would go bad in a day or two.  I opened up the fridge and saw frozen veggies.  Humph, that’s boring.  What else have we got in here?  As I riffled through the fridge I realized we had some throwing out to do.  Stuff was growing and not in that “I have my own home-grown food” kind’a way.

As I cleared out, I found some perfectly good cauliflower in the bottom drawer.  Cauliflower was the first Indian dish I learn to make with some degree of success.  I think it’s the most forgiving dish in the “newly married” repertoire as it’s very simple and basic.  I turn to this dish a lot these days.  Which amazes me because I never liked cauliflower when I was growing up.  Of course, in my household, cauliflower was steamed and put on the side of whatever meat we were eating.  The vegetable was an after thought.  You were lucky if it even had salt.  No wonder I didn’t like it.

This cauliflower dish is totally different.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but Hubby says this is the best cauliflower recipe I’ve ever made (and I have made a LOT in these six years).  However, he also said my first attempt at Indian food was amazing.  It was broccoli and tofu.  Broccoli doesn’t even exist in India.  So there goes his credibility.

Okay already, let’s make cauliflower with veggies:

pour the frozen mixed veggies in a bowl.  I think I used 2 cups worth, but it doesn’t matter that much

wash a head of cauliflower

remove the leaves

cut off the stem

cut or pull apart into bite-size florets

add the cut cauliflower to the bowl

cover the bowl with plastic wrap

cut a little slit for steam to escape

put the bowl in the microwave for 5 minutes

meanwhile…heat a large skillet on medium-high

once the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of oil

test to see if the oil is hot by dropping 2 cumin seeds in the oil.  If they splutter and pop, add the rest.  If they do nothing, let the oil get a bit hotter

(I should have waited for the oil to get hotter, my seeds aren’t doing too much)

add a “pinch” (less than 1/4 teaspoon) of asafetida and let it sizzle for 5-10 seconds.  Using asafetida is optional but it adds a nice sourness.

once the cauliflower/veggie mixture has been steamed for 5 minutes, add it to the pan.

add salt to taste (I did about 1 1/2 teaspoons) and give it a stir

then I added about 3/4 cup of pre-made tomato tadka.  See the recipe posting on Tomato Tarka.

cover and cook on medium for 10 minutes

uncover and stir

add the spices:

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 teaspoons dry mango powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (or to taste)

Careful not to over spice, which is very easy to do in Indian cooking.  You want to add spice so that the food is not bland but you don’t want to add so many spices that the dish tastes grainy and over whelming.

Your tastes may be different than mine.  For me, this is just enough spice to flavor but still allows a light quality.  You might need more or less.  Feel free to experiment.  It’s always good to add a little at a time (maybe adding 1/2 teaspoon of each spice at a time), let it cook for a minute to meld the flavors, taste and then slowly add more until you find the amounts you prefer. With this method, you’ll learn to gauge how much spice to add for your own preference.

oh, now it a stir.

chop up half a bunch (1/2 cup worth or so) of coriander leaves and add to the pan.

stir again. Taste, adjust as needed.  I think I added more salt.  The dish was a bit wet still and the cauliflower was still too crunch for my tastes, so I let it cook another 5 minutes uncovered.  I added about 1/4 teaspoon more garam masala as it was a little bland to my taste.

Serving suggestions: serve with fresh homemade Indian flat breads called chapatis or over Basmati rice.

Now go try it yourself!

See More Cauliflower Recipes:

Mummy-ji’s Aloo Gobi Video Recipe (Potato and Cauliflower Curry)

Cauliflower with Mixed Vegetables

difficulty level: Beginner

makes: 6 servings         time: 30 mins.

1 head of cauliflower

1-2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

(I used a mixed bag of peas, carrots, green beans and corn, but use whatever you like)

1 tablespoon olive oil (or any daily cooking oil you have)

less than 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup pre-made tomato tadka

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)

1 tablespoon coriander powder

2 teaspoons mango powder

1 teaspoon Garam Masala (see post on Garam Masala to make at home)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro (a.k.a. coriander) leaves

if you don’t have any pre-made tadka use the following ingredients:

3 tomatoes, pureed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger (you can also grate it)

1. Wash and drain the cauliflower.  If using fresh vegetables, wash these too. Cut the leaves and stem from the cauliflower and cut into bite-size pieces (if using fresh  vegetables prep and cut them into bite-size pieces as well.

2. Put the veggies into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, but a slit for the steam to escape and put into the microwave to steam for 5 minutes (on high).

3. While the veggies are steaming, heat a large skillet on medium-high.  Once the pan is hot, add your favorite cooking oil (mine is olive oil). Test to see if the oil is hot by dropping a few (2-3) cumin seeds into the oil.  If they sputter and pop immediately, the oil is hot enough.  If they take a few seconds, it’s not hot enough, if the oil is smoking it is too hot and you will burn the spices and ruin the flavor.

4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds to the hot oil.  Let them sputter and spit and pop.

5. Add the “pinch” of asafetida if uisng it.  Let it bubble a bit (5 seconds tops).

6.  Add your steamed veggies.  They should be halfway cooked already.

7. Add salt to taste and stir.

8. Add 3/4 cup of pre-made tomato tarka

9. Cover and cook on medium for 10 minutes

10. Uncover,  stir and add the spices and stir again

11. Add one cup of chopped coriander, mix and serve hot.

Serving suggestions: serve with fresh homemade Indian flat breads called chapatis or over Basmati rice.

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