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Cauliflower Bhaji with Spiced Basmati Rice
This week, a dear friend has come to L.A. to escape the cold, dark winter of London and visit with us for two weeks. Apart from seeing his lovely face again and laughing (and snorting) out loud unashamedly at his conversation, it brought back to me how much I miss the great indian food of London. Indian food is to London is what Mexican food is to Los Angeles: The can do no wrong trusted staple of each city. It’s great as fast food, can be eaten elegantly at a restaurant, or late at night after a big night out(those nights are long gone now with a ‘lil one). There is another reason I thought it necessary to post this recipe: I mentioned Cauliflower Bhaji in my “About Me ” page. It seemed unfair to tease you with something delicious, then leave you hanging.
I found my favorite indian cookbook sitting in a box full of dusty books in a charity shop (an english thrift shop) off the Chiswick High Rd in London. The book is called, “Indian Vegetarian Cookbook” by Tarla Dal. I have a few indian cookbooks on my shelf, but her recipes really work and are sensational. I would not dare to say that I adapted the recipe. Honestly, I have only changed three things: I left out using cream as I like my vegetables on the drier(niramish) side. I am not a fan of green peas, so I have left them out. As I love cumin seeds, I fried them in a non stick pan with turmeric until browned, then rolled the potatoes in the mixture for a few minutes until toasted and golden. Feel free to throw the cream and peas back in if the mood takes you. This dish is medium spicy, but leave the chili out entirely if it’s not your thing.
2 lb cauliflower
ghee or oil for frying
3 large tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion grated
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 inch piece fresh root ginger
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin powder
1 lb new potatoes, boiled
1/2 teaspoon sugar
chopped fresh cilantro leaves (also called coriander)
1. Break the cauliflower into small florets, then slice each in half. Heat the ghee or oil and fry the florets in small batches until golden. Drain on absorbent paper.
2. Bring a pan of water (enough to fit the tomatoes comfortably) a boil. Add the tomatoes and blanch for one minute until the skin peels away. Press through a sieve.
3. In a small nonstick pan, melt 2 tablespoons of ghee, add the onions, and fry until lightly browned. Meanwhile, grind the garlic and ginger together to make a paste.
4. Stir in the paste, garam masala, chili powder, coriander, and cumin powder into the fried onions and continue to cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat and set aside.
5. In a separate large nonstick pan, melt a tablespoon of ghee. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric and fry until lightly browned. Add the potatoes and roll them in the mixture until golden.
6. Add the cauliflower, paste, tomato stock, salt to taste, and sugar. Cook for five minutes to reheat all of the vegetables. Top with chopped coriander and serve with spiced basmati rice.
I usually offer one recipe per post, but this rice is so simple to make that I thought I’d throw it in. The ghee and the mustard seeds give the rice that distinctive indian flavor.
Spiced Basmati Rice
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (available at your nearest indian grocer)
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
pinch of salt
1. Rinse the rice throughly in 2-3 changes of water.
2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the ghee, then add the black mustard seeds. Cook on low heat until the seeds start to pop.
3. Add the basmati rice and cook for a minute until the rice turns white, taking care not to let the rice burn. Pour in the water, add the salt, and bring to a boil.
4. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Enjoy the meal with a dollop of Major Grey’s Mango Chutney or Lime Pickle bought from your local indian grocer. If you’re looking for another nice cooling side, try some Cucumber Raita (recipe below). O.k. darn it, three recipes this week! I can’t help myself.
2 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped cucumber, that has seeded, peeled, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
juice of half a lemon
optional: few leaves of fresh mint chopped
In a bowl, mix the ingredients together. Chill for at least half an hour for the flavors to blend before serving.
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