Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cauliflower with Ajwain

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables since it  is mild and picks up flavors easily. I like it sauteed and roasted. Sauteing cauliflower with Indian spices works very well since it infuses the cauliflower with loads of flavor and there is a wide variety of spices to choose from to make a different tasting dish every time.

Ajwain is an Indian spice which looks like celery seeds but smells like thyme. If you like thyme, you will like this seed. It is more aromatic than thyme and a little goes a long way. I like to use it to flavor stir fries featuring  cauliflower, okra, potatoes, paneer, as well as mushrooms. You can purchase ajwain seeds in any Indian grocery store or online at Penzeys.

Here I combine ajwain with cauliflower and spice it up a little more with chili flakes and a final sprinkling of dried mango powder, which is tangy. (If you don't have dry mango powder, you can skip it, or substitute with a tablespoon of lime juice - the dish will still taste great).  Cilantro leaves added at the end lend some freshness to the dish and are very aromatic.

Cauliflower with Ajwain
1 ¼ lbs cauliflower florets
1 ½ tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ajwain seeds
1 teaspoon red chili flakes (or to taste)
¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur)
½ cut finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Separate the florets of the cauliflower and slice them into ¼ inch slices.
  2. Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet with canola oil. Add the ajwain seeds and the chili flakes and heat them both for 30 seconds to flavor the oil. Add the sliced cauliflower to the pan and toss to mix well. Add the turmeric powder and mix once more. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the salt. Mix the salt into the cauliflower and spice mixture and cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. The salt will draw the water out of the cauliflower and create steam which will quickly cook the cauliflower.
  3. Remove the cover and raise the heat to medium high and sauté for 3 more minutes till the edges are light brown. Add the dry mango powder and ½ the chopped cilantro leaves and mix well. Cook for 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro leaves before serving.
Serves 2 to 3 as part of a multi course meal.

Note: If you like cauliflower, you may want to try some of the other cauliflower recipes here.

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