Spicy South Indian Cauliflower

This is another dish I made as a result of the cookbooker.com challenge to try and review the recipes of Martha Rose Shulman.  Many of the recipes in her book use lots of Mediterranean and Mexican spices and this one is no different.  That's one of the reasons it hit my short list of recipes to try!  That and we love cauliflower!

Here is a LINK to the recipe from the NY Times website.

The recipe calls for whole coriander and cumin seeds, toasted.  This recipe was a great reminder to toast my spices before using them.  I don't always do it and I don't know why.  Toasting the seeds really enhances the flavor.  And when I crushed them in my mortar and pestle I think you could smell them in the next room!


There is a little cayenne in this recipe but most of the heat comes from a couple of serrano chilis.  I removed a little over half of the seeds and the finished dish still packed quite a punch.  I did use gloves to chop the peppers and I chopped them on a board I could throw in the dishwasher.  I didn't want the next thing I chopped on my wood board to taste like serrano!

Like with the tomato sauce for the halibut (see Baked Halibut with Tomato Caper Sauce) out of this same book, the recipe called for tomatoes and again I used fresh.

The cauliflower is steamed which caused me a little concern.  I love roasted cauliflower.  Steamed just seems boring.  Then again there was going to be a lot added to the cauliflower so maybe steaming is ok.

This goes together pretty quickly.  The ginger, cumin and chilis are sauteed in peanut oil (or canola but I chose peanut!)  and then the cauliflower is added.  To be honest, if the recipe stopped right there it would have been a really good dish!  But don't stop there!

Next the tomatoes, ground coriander, cayenne, turmeric are added and everything is simmered until heated through.  To be true to the recipe you would add cilantro at this point but, well, I don't like cilantro.

It's a very pretty dish and I was hoping to love it.  I just liked it.  I think I still prefer a simply roasted cauliflower either finished with balsamic or tossed with herbs or maybe some Chinese Five Spice.  Maybe I left in too many seeds from the serrano pepper but the cauliflower was just hot.  I didn't really get the other wonderful spices that were in the dish, just heat.  So I'll chalk this on up as OK, but probably not something I'll make again. 

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