Curried Cauliflower “Bhaji” (B+)

October 17, 2006 at 6:17 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

This is a quick, everyday dish, from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail, by Madhur Jaffrey.

Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 2 whole, dried, hot, red chilies
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, first cut into thin slices, and the slices then stacked and cut into thin slivers
  • 4 heaped cups cauliflower florets, 2 inches in length and no wider than 1 1/2 inches (about 1 pound after removing core and leaves)
  • 1/2 cup peeled and finely chopped tomato

Pour the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and salt into a small bowl. Add 4 Tbs. of water and mix. Set aside.

Pour the oil into a large, lidded pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, put in first the ginger and then the cauliflower. Fry the cauliflower, stirring at the same time, for about 2 minutes, or until it picks up some brown spots.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the spice paste, cover, and continue to cook over low heat for about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Replace the lid, and cook for a further 6 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender.

My Notes

This tastes a lot like the cauliflower recipe my mom used to make all the time, except it uses individual spices rather than curry powder. We used less oil, added frozen peas to add some nice green color, and I was too lazy to peel my tomato. I also used some grated ginger I had around, rather than the julienne slices, and kosher rather than fine salt.

It was delicious. I could have eaten the whole pan. My mom and I polished it off easily. If I make it again I will use the whole head of cauliflower, as this dish reheats well. I might make a few changes, such as slicing the cauliflower rather than breaking it into florets, and adding a bit of lemon juice at the end. It was also good with a bit of masala chaat powder.

I made it again with a relatively small head of cauliflower, and it was about 7 cups of florets, which made quite a lot of curry, but it’s good as leftovers and it all got eaten. I also added a few roasted potatoes, lots of peas, and canned dice tomatoes. I used 2 Tbs. of oil, and it wasn’t oily, but tasted rich.

Update Sept 2009:  I made this with 1.5 Tbs. oil, 1 pound of cauliflower, and no ginger (I was out).  I added 1 cup of green peas, and 1 tsp. of lemon juice.  It was very good, and not too oily, although perhaps just a tad salty.  My 12-inch skillet wasn’t completely full.

Rating: B+

Derek: B+


  1. Janet said,

    Excellent treat for the taste buds. My brother, the non-vegetable eater, gobbled up half the pan by himself, then asked for more. I’m pleased to have a yummy addition to my repertoire, especially while on a restricted diet.

    Together we rated this dish an “A”.

  2. Back to normal life « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] Cauliflower curry with potatoes, peas, and tomatoes. Mom’s or Madhur Jaffrey’s. […]

  3. austingardener said,

    Did you know you can dice the cauliflower core and use it too? I just found this out watching a tv cooking show. I am going to make this recipe now instead of mine. Will post the results.

    • captious said,

      Yes, I did know that about the core. It’s like broccoli stem. Tougher than the florets but perfectly edible.

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