Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cauliflower in Pepper Garlic Sauce

A recent news report comments on the popularity of cauliflower. It is an aha moment for those who have not enjoyed the delights of this mild tasting veggie. And that must be why the prices of these heads have soared in the last few months. Nevertheless, I still buy them. Because it is one of the most requested vegetable by family. Because we love how cauliflower adapts and adopts the flavors it is cooked with, be it florets in masala, pureed into soup or plain pan fried. 

I'm making Asian tonight. Cauliflower goes well with the stir fried beef I am about to wok-fry. How many ways can you make this veggie in an Asian fashion? One way is Cauliflower Manchurian, a staple in the Indo-Chinese fusion repertoire. It starts with florets deep-fried in batter, then coated in a 3 alarm spicy soy based sauce. Having made the recipe a couple of times, I know the labor intensive steps it involves. I remember watching Suvir Saran cook a similar recipe, oven roasting mildly spiced cauliflower florets instead of deep-frying them. I am intrigued. It looks easier, less messy and more calorie conscious. 

Florets are coated with olive oil, dusted with cumin, coriander, roasted in a hot oven till they are crunchy and brown. The sauce starts with olive oil. Lots of garlic and pepper provide the zing. Don't let the large amount of pepper stop you. It dissipates into the sauce. Ketchup gives the sauce a silky quality. As it simmers, the sauce darkens to an intense red color. A quick toss in the sauce and the florets are ready to eat.

Serves 4

4 cups Cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons Olive Oil 
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder 
1/2 teaspoon Coriander powder 
1/4  teaspoon Kosher Salt 
10 Garlic cloves
2 teaspoons Black Pepper powder
1 tablespoon Olive Oil 
1 cup Ketchup
1/4 teaspoon Chile powder
Scallions, cut on a bias

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil for easy clean up.

Put florets on a baking sheet.

Drizzle olive oil over florets.

Sprinkle cumin and coriander powders over florets. Season with salt.

Mix gently so florets are coated with oil and spices.

Roast on middle rack for 20-25 minutes till floret tips are dark brown. 

While cauliflower roasts, start the sauce.

Mince garlic finely.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep sided saucepan.

When oil shimmers, add garlic and pepper powder. Stir.

When garlic is golden, add ketchup and chile powder.

Simmer over low fire for 15-20 minutes for sauce to thicken. It will darken as it simmers.

Take cauliflower out of the oven and add to sauce.

Toss florets so they are well coated.

Spoon onto a platter and garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro.

I am in love with oven roasted cauliflower. Each bite has some crunchy texture, some tang. Fork tender florets draped in silken tomato make for one zesty accompanying side.

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