Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas
How’s that for alliteration?
First, I want to apologize for this week. I can’t remember the last time I went so long without blogging. But I’m sure you understand that the life of a college student is hardly an idle one, and this week was on the stressful side.
The two of us are sharing Fruit and Veggie co-op, where we get a weekly shipment of produce. We managed to pull together an amazing vegetarian, quasi-ethnic meal that Ari called “the United Nations of meals” using all of our produce.
This is what we were given:
- 1 Eggplant
- 1 Mango
- 1 Cauliflower
- A bag of apples
- 1 Head of lettuce
And this was our menu:
- Salad with Tabbouleh
- Mango Cardamom Lassi
- Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas
- Greek Eggplant
- Cucumber Mint Raita
The eggplant was entirely Ari’s doing, and it was so wonderful that it merits its own post. For now, let’s focus on the cauliflower.
First of all, cauliflower happens to be one of the most underrated vegetables. Unfairly condemned as albino broccoli, unfortunate childhood memories of mushy, overcooked cauliflower diminishes its potential. Roast it with lots of olive oil and you have a filling side, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, almost reminiscent of french fries.
But where cauliflower shines the most, in my opinion, is in curry. I had a vision of a wholesome vegan dish with excessive amounts of turmeric and cumin, tempered with the sweetness of cinnamon and kicked up with cayenne and chili paste on the side. Because my spice blend was Indian, I opted for chickpeas rather than tofu. I wanted something to give it richness: hence, coconut milk. But too often, soupy coconut curries leave us too full, and Ari and I weren’t having any rice to absorb the sauce.
Luckily, I happened to have the cutest miniature cans of coconut milk. Just one of these babies was enough to bind the cauliflower and chickpeas, but not so much that the coconut flavor was overwhelming. The coconut is there, to be sure, but never upstages the spices and herbs. A handful of cilantro and mint liven up the dish. Add a squeeze of lemon and feast.
Gone is cauliflower’s pale facade: it’s spiced up, golden and glamorous. Hardly albino broccoli.
Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas (Serves 3-4)
*As always, spice measurements are approximate. I happen to think in this case more is less.
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped (yes, I said 6!)
- 2 TBSP olive oil/ other oil: I’m sure ghee would be delicious)
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 TBSP turmeric
- 2 tsp powdered ginger (If you have fresh ginger, that’s even better– add at least a 1-inch pice of it, sliced)
- At least 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- Salt and pepper
- 1-2 TBSP curry spice blend such as garam masala
- Water as needed
- 1/2 large can of coconut milk, or one small can
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- Juice of one lemon
- Parboil the cauliflower. Do this by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, dropping the cauliflower in, bringing back to a boil, and waiting until the cauliflower are the vegetable equivalent of al dente. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water.
- While the cauliflower is boiling, heat oil on medium high heat. When it sizzles, add the onions. Let onions saute until translucent, then add the garlic. Saute a minute or two more and add seasonings.
- Continue to cook the onions on low until they’re very soft. Add the cauliflower, coating it with the spice mixture and adding more of whatever you need to taste.
- Next, add the coconut milk and bring back to a boil. Let it all cook through.
- Finally, add the chickpeas at the last minute so you don’t overcook them. Heat everything, turn the heat back down and add the cilantro, mint, and lemon juice.
- Add salt, pepper and seasonings to taste (you’re probably going to want a lot more than you initially added).
- Serve with additional lemon and chili paste on the side.