Cauliflowers are in season and I've spent the last few weeks doing some experimentation as a way of celebrating what I think is a rather under-appreciated vegetable. A cauliflower is good for so much more than cauliflower cheese! Because it naturally has quite a savoury flavour it is good in a curry, for example aloo gobi, a classic Indian curry made with potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi).
So I wanted to try preparing cauliflower in the form of a vindaloo, which is (and probably always will be) my all-time favourite curry. A classic vindaloo is made with pork, but works great with chicken too, which is one of my go-to staples for a curry night with friends. A runner bean vindaloo was a previous late-summer experiment of mine which was a fantastic and delicious success. I think this moment was inevitable: it is now time for the cauliflower to receive the vindaloo treatment!
- 500 g cauliflower (about ½ a head)
- 3 tbsp high quality rapeseed oil
- 80 ml white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 15 curry leaves
- 2 medium onions, finely sliced along the grain
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
- 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely grated
- 1 handful baby spinach leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
Remove the thick stalk from the cauliflower and reserve for another recipe. Take one or two small florets and slice thinly – these will be for garnishing later. Separate the rest into florets about 4 cm thick and then cut each one in half. Put a large, heavy based pan on a high heat and add the rapeseed oil. Wait for the oil to heat up (about 20 seconds). Season the cauliflower pieces with salt and place in the pan in a single layer (do them in batches if the pan is too small). Stir occasionally and allow the cauliflower to become golden and caramelised. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate or a tray.
While the cauliflower is frying, measure out the turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper and garam masala and set aside in a bowl.
Ideally, your pan will be big enough to cook the rest of the curry in it; if not, transfer all the oil from the pan into a larger one. Set the pan over a medium-high heat and add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onions and curry leaves. Stir and fry until the onions turn a light golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir until fully mixed. Now add the spice mixture and tomatoes. Turn the heat down and continue to cook for around 5 minutes.
Add the cauliflower pieces to the pan along with the salt, sugar, vinegar and 350ml water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 - 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
Taste the curry and add more salt if necessary. Take a few leaves of spinach and shred finely with a sharp knife to create a chiffonade. Add the rest of the spinach to the curry and stir until gently wilted. Serve with white rice, garnishing with the reserved sliced cauliflower from earlier, and the spinach chiffonade.