Best Ever Cauliflower Curry (No, really)

Cauliflower was on clearance and lo, a miracle was bestowed upon us.

Sarcasm aside, cauliflower has some image issues. It can be delicious but it’s too starchy for most go-to veg jobs and too veg-y for those diet listicles that always turn up around New Years: “replace shredded cheese on your favorite dish with crumbled cauliflower nibs, you’ll never know the difference!” (Yes. I will. And I will never forgive you.)

I think until last night I’d never actually bought a honkin’ head of it. But necessity and student loans truly are the mothers of invention. Something really wonderful came of the budget-induced experiment. So wonderful I feel you, my lovely readers, ought to know.

~

Important Lessons from this Haphazard, Miraculous Recipe Development:

  • Lesson 1: Trust the experts. A Girl Call Jack told me to roast the cauliflower. (She is very clever.) Roasting boosts this hearty, earthy curry into something properly sustaining. The nuttiness and heft of the slightly charred bits balance my super souped-up sauce, uniting to create something rich and cozy.
  • Lesson 2: Make do. Yes, a fancy curry would have greek yogurt or double cream mixed in at the end. My kitchen is not versed in such items. But I did have a quarter block of Philadelphia and it brought the creamy magic like a boss.
  • Lesson 3: Trust your instincts. Work a flavor combination you trust for the base and flourish from there. I saw lots of lovely cauliflower curry recipes online but wasn’t sure about how some of them would fare with my necessary substitutions. (Coriander leaf/cilantro is lovely with coconut milk, but with Philly? I wasn’t convinced.)
  • Lesson 4: Meatless isn’t always soulless. Trust me, with this many layers of flavor you wouldn’t even notice the Meatfree Monday vibe if I didn’t mention it. I hadn’t even noticed myself until I’d finished.

So now you get a recipe which shall live on the back of an envelope in my kitchen for years to come, accompanied by a picture of today’s lunch leftovers. (How classy am I?) The flavor was unhindered in round two, but sadly the colors are far less vivid.

  • Lesson 5: Kale may stand up to reheating, but its hue is more subdued.
  • Oh, and Lesson 6: Currys always have really long ingredients lists. It doesn’t mean they are hard or complicated. Just spice things up and live a little.

BEST EVER VEG CURRY

que sera sara veg curry top down

INGREDIENTS

Large cauliflower head broken into florets (by hand is easiest)

1 tbs turmeric

1 tbs ginger

Good slug of olive oil

1-2c brown rice (+ water to cook it)

Half an onion, finely chopped

1 tbs curry powder

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 cloves garlic, minced

Chili pepper to taste (Fresh is best here – I used about 1/3 of one for a mild but definite heat signature)

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into small pieces

Tin of chopped or crushed tomatoes, drained

Tin of chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained

1.5c red lentils

2 c stock (chicken or vegetable work fine) + 2-3c water (I used 5 c water + 2 stock cubes)

1/3 bunch of kale, roughly chopped

4tbs (or thereabouts) of cream cheese

DIRECTIONS

Roast the cauliflower as per Jack’s recipe: Break the cauliflower up by hand into manageable pieces. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet. Toss with ginger, turmeric and olive oil and roast at 350 for 30-40minutes until toasty and brown on the edges.

[Lie down with a glass of wine for 15 minutes and unwind from your day.]

Cook the rice as per usual. While it comes to a boil, chop the garlic, onion, chili and carrot (and tomatoes if needed, you want them pretty fine for the sauce here).

On a medium low heat in a large, covered pan, saute the onion with the curry powder, cumin and coriander in a generous splodge of olive oil for 15 minutes.

[Feel free to go put on your pjs and choose something from your Netflix queue.]

When its fragrant and the onions are soft add the garlic, chili, carrot, tomatoes, chick peas, lentils, and enough water + stock to cover. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked and the cauliflower is done.

[More lolling about to be had as you see fit while it works its magic.]

Stir in the cauliflower and kale, reduce heat to low and cover for 5 minutes so the kale wilts but isn’t soggy. Turn off the heat.

Dice the cream cheese into little bits and stir into a corner of the pan for even distribution and to avoid curdling, then fold into the rest of the sauce. Add a splash more water if necessary to get your preferred consistency. Serve over rice and luxuriate in your mellifluent feast.

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