Saturday, February 24, 2007

Indian Spiced Cauliflower & Potatoes

When you've clipped a recipe and made it enough that it is tattered, a sensible cook find a more permanent place. For more than a decade, mine was a lovely little paper notebook, a gift from my cousin Joanne. I used it for recipes from friends and family, newspapers and magazines, and for original recipes that I worked out through trial and error. And on one sad day, I tossed it out with newspaper recycling. I still sigh -- especially for the Thai Chili Noodles -- but never mind. I replaced it with an 8-1/2 x 11 leather-bound book. It will never go out with recycling. One of its treasures is Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes.

This dish calls on your chopping skills -- or it will give you an excuse to practice on cheap ingredients. And please, get a good knife and take care of it. If you're unsure about your knife skills -- practice. Years ago I took a terrific "Knife Skills" class at the St. Paul Cooks of Crocus Hill. I was cranky after the class because I wanted to chop for three hours instead of watching, listening and getting the basics. The teacher was right, though. Like all skills, this one requires practice. I took that class in the Spring, and that summer my Onion Relish won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair. Why? Because it tasted great and because after chopping more than 20 pounds of onions, the pieces were perfect.

I have adapted this traditional Indian dish, offering the option of adding of  very untraditional onions and carrots and increasing the spices. This dish has it all: it is good hot, cold or at room temperature; it is astonishingly low in fat, and amazingly intense in flavor. Add these spices to your spice rack -- you'll use them often. If you have a very sturdy stainless steel roasting pan, this is the time to use it!

This is a two-part recipe: roast the vegetables in the oven, then add them to a spicy mix on top of your stove.  

Adapted from Gourmet (Feb. 2004, p. 135)

1 head of cauliflower, cut in 3/4" florets
1-1/2 # potatoes (Idaho or Yukon), cut in 3/4# cubes)
1 medium onion, cut in 1# chunks (optional)
1/2# carrots, cut in 1# chunks (optional)
3 T vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 475. Preheat the roasting pan at the same time.
2. Toss the cut vegetables with 3 T oil and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp crushed red peppers.
3. When the oven is hot, put the vegetables into the hot roasting pan. Bake for 20+ minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the cauliflower has brown spots.

2 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or dried minced garlic)
2 tsp minced fresh jalapeno (or serrano for more heat) peppers with seeds
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water

1. In 2 T oil, cook the onion, garlic, jalapeno (or serrano) peppers and ginger for 8-10 minutes.
2. Add the cumin, red pepper (optional), coriander, turmeric and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the water, add the vegetables from the oven. Stir well, and cook covered for 5 minutes. Stir once or twice, and serve with lemon wedges.

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