By Alice Zaslavsky
This is another culinary masterpiece by Alice for all the cauliflower lovers out there and guaranteed to become on of your home favourites!
Keralan fried cauliflower with coconut chutney (In Praise of Veg, p. 87)
Serves 4-6 as a starter
Puffy popcorn pieces of cauliflower, warmed and wonderful with the spices of South India, complete with a quick and easy coconut chutney. These are already gluten-free and can easily be turned vegan by using coconut yoghurt for dipping. Serve as a stunning share-plate, or turn into a killer breakfast by popping a runny fried or scrambled egg or two alongside. If this book isn’t smattered with curry-leaf-oily fingerprints within the next hour, I’ll be quietly disappointed.
½ head of cauliflower
1 cup (150 g) chickpea flour
½ cup (75 g) rice flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt flakes - Salt Odyssey Salt Flakes
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 cup (250 ml) very cold soda water
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
rice bran oil or extra virgin olive oil, for shallow-frying - Ladi Biosas EVOO
3 curry leaf branches, washed and patted dry
coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
1–2 limes, cut into wedges
Greek yoghurt, to serve
Coconut chutney (Makes 1½ cups)
100 g (3½ oz) coconut flesh (or shredded coconut)
1½ tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
20 curry leaves, washed and patted dry
1 green chilli, chopped
1½ teaspoons tamarind purée
1 teaspoon brown sugar, or to taste
1 bunch of coriander (cilantro), chopped
Remove and thinly slice the core from the cauliflower and set aside. Cut or tear the rest of the cauliflower into small florets about 3–4 cm (1¾–1½ inches) in size. Pick the leaves and keep these for frying also.
In a large bowl, combine the chickpea flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt flakes and 1 teaspoon each of the turmeric, chilli powder and curry powder. Create a well in the middle, add the soda water, garlic and ginger, whisking out any lumps. Add the cauliflower florets and mix to coat. Chill for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
To make the coconut chutney, place the coconut in a bowl and cover with just boiled water. Stand for 5‑minutes to soften. Meanwhile, place the coconut oil, cumin and mustard seeds, chilli flakes, curry leaves and reserved cauliflower core slices in a frying pan over medium–high heat and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the cauliflower is softened. Transfer to a blender, along with the remaining chutney ingredients and drained coconut. Whiz until smooth and combined, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time to loosen. Season to taste.
Heat 3 cm (1¼ inches) of rice bran oil in a wok or saucepan over high heat to 180°C (350°F); a little batter added to the oil shouldn’t take longer than 30 seconds to turn golden brown. Carefully add the well-dried curry leaf branches (they’ll make a loud noise!) and cook for 30‑seconds, or until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Working in batches, add the cauliflower florets and leaves to the hot oil after shaking away the excess batter and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
Strain one-quarter of the cooking oil into a cold saucepan, leaving a 5 mm (¼ inch) shimmer of oil in the pan. Return the pan to the heat with the remaining spices and cook for 1 minute, or until foaming. Add all the fried cauliflower and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until coated and golden. Transfer to a serving platter and scatter with the crispy curry leaves and coriander. Serve with the coconut chutney, lime wedges and yoghurt.
‘Images and text from "In Praise of Veg" by Alice Zaslavsky, photography by Ben Dearnley. Murdoch Books RRP $59.99’.