Nik Sharma’s roasted cauliflower in turmeric kefir | Curry

Will Kreznick

This recipe takes advantage of kefir (buttermilk can be substituted) for its bright acidity. I prefer to use a bottle of freshly opened kefir or buttermilk here, because as these liquids age, the lactic acid increases, which not only leaves a strong tart taste but also causes the milk proteins […]

This recipe takes advantage of kefir (buttermilk can be substituted) for its bright acidity. I prefer to use a bottle of freshly opened kefir or buttermilk here, because as these liquids age, the lactic acid increases, which not only leaves a strong tart taste but also causes the milk proteins to curdle quickly on heating.

Using the acidity of fermented dairy such as kefir and the Maillard reaction creates a bittersweet taste and new aroma molecules in vegetables. Chickpea flour, which contains starch, acts as a thickener for the base of the sauce. The sound of the seeds sizzling is a good indicator of how hot your oil is: if the oil is hot enough, they will sizzle immediately and brown quickly.

Serves 4
cauliflower 910g, broken into bite-size florets
garam masala 1 tsp
fine sea salt
grapeseed or other neutral oil 60ml
red onion 150g, minced
ground turmeric ½ tsp
red chilli powder ½ tsp (optional)
chickpea flour 30g
fresh kefir or buttermilk 480ml
cumin seeds ½ tsp
black mustard seeds ½ tsp
red chilli flakes 1 tsp
coriander or flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C fan/gas mark 7.

Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan or baking dish. Sprinkle with the garam masala, season with salt and toss to coat. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat evenly. Roast the cauliflower for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and slightly charred. Stir the florets halfway through roasting.

While the cauliflower is roasting, place a deep, medium saucepan or casserole pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan. Add the onions and sauté until they just start to turn translucent – 4-5 minutes. Add the turmeric and chilli powder and cook for 30 seconds. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the chickpea flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and fold in the kefir, stirring constantly. Watch the liquid carefully as it cooks until it thickens slightly – 2-3 minutes. Fold the roasted cauliflower into the liquid and remove from the heat. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin and black mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop and the cumin starts to brown – 30-45 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the chilli flakes, swirling the oil in the pan until the oil turns red. Quickly pour the hot oil with the seeds over the cauliflower in the saucepan. Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve warm with rice or parathas.

From The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma (Chronicle Books, £26)

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