Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower

When I made my first recipes from Suvir Saran's first book, Indian Home Cooking, I knew I had struck gold.  They were more than I had hoped for.  Each was delicious and possessed the ability to transport me to another realm of tastes and aromas.
Now, years later, Suvir is still taking me on the culinary ride of my life in his newest book,  Masala Farm, a collection of stories, insights and recipes that carries the reader through the seasons of an upstate New York farm and feeds him on the way with a variety of treats from biscuits that would make any of my southern friends smile widely to a cauliflower recipe unlike any other I have ever tasted.
I have made Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower three times, so far.  The last time occurred this past Saturday when I made an Indian dinner for guests using all three of Suvir's books, Indian Home Cooking, American Masala and Masala Farm.  Next to the Haleem, a north Indian muslim dish that I must have and must have often, the dish my guests enjoyed most was the cauliflower with its rich sauce of tomatoes and garlic which glazed the vegetable already roasted in a coating of oil and spices.  This recipe really goes pretty quickly once you've started and will disappear from the serving dish once it's finished!
Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 green cardamom pods
3 dried red chilies (optional)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1- 2 1/2-3-pound head of cauliflower, cleaned and broken into medium florets
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9x11-inch baking dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil and set aside.
Grind the cardamom, chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns in a coffee grinder until fine.
Mix the spices with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl.
Add the cauliflower, toss with the spiced oil and sprinkle with the salt.
Transfer to the baking dish and roast for 20 minutes.
While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce.
Heat the oil and the black pepper in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for one minute. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring to avoid burning. Add ketchup and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cayenne and salt.
Cook until the sauce thickens and becomes a deep red, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes.
After the cauliflower has roasted for 20 minutes, add sauce and stir to coat. Return to oven and roast for another 20-30 minutes, stirring half-way through the allotted time.

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