Cauliflower with Mustard

I was more taken with this than Michael was. An unusual and interesting Indian preparation for cauliflower, this comes from a recent acquisition of mine, The Food of India, a collaborative work from Murdoch Books. It’s a coffee table book, but the recipes certainly sound (and undoubtedly look) good. In the coming weeks I’ll be able to tell you how many of them actually are.

This is a nice change of pace from the usual Indian cauliflower-and-tomato dish. I like that too, but I get a little tired of tomato-in-everything.

I added a little pat of butter at the end of this recipe to help bring the sauce up a bit, but otherwise I’ve left it largely the same. I did change the tamarind puree to tamarind paste – I don’t even mess around with block tamarind, and I figure if I don’t mess around with it, no other American-born person is likely to either. I just buy the prepared concentrate that comes in a little plastic tub marked “TAMICON.”

2 t. yellow mustard seeds
2 t. black mustard seeds (sometimes called brown mustard seeds)
1 t. turmeric
1 t. tamarind paste
3 T. oil (the original recipe calls for mustard oil, which I don’t have around – I used a combination of oil and butter)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 medium head cauliflower, broken into medium florets
2 serrano chilies, membranes & seeds removed and minced
2 t. kalonji (also known as nigella seeds)
salt and pepper to taste

Grind the mustard seeds together to a fine powder in a spice grinder (I used my little food processor). Mix with the turmeric, tamarind paste and 1/2 c. water to form a smooth, quite liquid paste.

Heat the oil (or oil/butter mixture) in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until almost smoking. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and fry for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden in spots. Add about half the cauliflower and fry, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Fry the remainder of the cauliflower until lightly browned, adding more oil if necessary. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Fry the minced chilies for about a minute, until tinged with brown around the edges. Return all of the cauliflower to the pan, sprinkle it with the mustard mixture, kalonji, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the cauliflower is nearly tender and the seasoning is nearly dry. Taste to check seasoning – add salt and pepper to taste and melt a small pat of butter in the pan, if desired, to then toss with the cauliflower.

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