Do you know, I’ve been having the oddest food cravings recently. My last was for cauliflower (the one after that, brie!). I have a love-hate relationship with this vegetable because I don’t really like cheese sauces (white sauce/bechamel) at all. The cheesy white-sauce dilemma has marred what should be a love affair with lasagne and macaroni cheese, too. I’m just not a fan. So overcook cauliflower until it’s mushy and cover it in cheese sauce, creates one of my food hells: cauliflower cheese.
That said, I don’t have anything against the vegetable itself. I cannot stand it overcooked; I’d definitely rather have it crunchy than watery and mushy. I must also confess, I’d never eaten it raw before, either. I have a thing about raw vegetables: celery, carrots, salad veg – fine; cabbage, cauliflower and mushrooms – not okay. It’s just me; I think in the case of mushrooms it might be the mouthfeel, because I *love* mushrooms once cooked. Suffice it to say, when I had my cauli-craving (I thought it was to do with needing iron, but it’s not that because according to my doctor I am the opposite of anaemic…) I could not settle until I had got one. I tried it raw and it was a revellation. It didn’t have any of the sulphur smell usually associated with cooking it; gone was the watery mush and in its place was a nutty, gorgeous, creamy vegetable of deliciousness. Honestly, it was lush.
So, having decided that I did not want it as a simple side-dish, I decided on a curry as I had mountains of vegetables that needed eating up. Here’s the twist: instead of buying a curry paste or pre-made sauce, I was going to start pretty much from scratch. I bought cumin, black mustard seeds, blade mace, cinnamon and garam masala. I heated the spices in a teaspoon of oil until the mustard seeds began to pop, at which point I added a whole diced onion, a thumb-sized piece of ginger (grated) and a whole diced aubergine, frying for a little while. Add to that a tub of almost-too-ripe cherry tomatoes, a whole head of delicious cauliflower, a couple of left-over radishes and about a pint of water. I also added a large handful of roasted, unsalted cashew nuts (gorgeous in all kinds of Indian dishes). That is it. I stirred it, popping the tomatoes as I went, until it was all coated. Then I left it for a while, simmering in the pan. Once it was reduced a bit and the vegetables softer, I added a tablespoon full of honey (from Glastonbury!) to bring out the curry flavours and the nuttiness of the cauliflower.
The finished dish cannot have very many calories and virtually no fat, yet it was the most delicious bowl of curry that I’ve had in a very long time. The cauliflower still had bite and was spicy, warming and sweet. I served it with naan bread, but rice or rotis would also be nice. Honestly, go and make it now. It is delish.