It’s just a typical afternoon. 5:00, and thinking about dinner. It begins with an innocent little peek into the fridge. I have all the ingredients for that Indian dish I like to make. Great, let’s have that over rice. Simple. Hmmm, rice is great, but it would be even better with that spiced rice I like to make. Oh, I know, I know! I could make that dal recipe the mister likes so much. I haven’t had naan in forever! Let’s search in all my cookbooks to find a good recipe. Darn it, I need yogurt for that. I must have yogurt. Now. Wonder if it will work with soy yogurt. Can you go to the store, dear? The kitchen transforms from immaculate–who am I kidding– the kitchen transforms from relatively clean to spinning in chaotic fury within 30 minutes. Two and a half hours later, dinner is served.
I don’t know about you, but when I think Indian food, I know I’ve got my work cut out for me. I expect to be chopping vegetables, toasting spices, making special pastes, and frying potatoes or cauliflower. It’s usually worth the effort, but always takes way longer than anticipated. Indian food is one of those cuisines that I crave on a regular basis. Maybe it’s the collection of Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks on my bookshelf, or the lack of a go-to Indian place in our neighborhood, but “restaurant” usually isn’t on my radar.
There could be a way to satisfy those Indian food hankerings without spending hours in the kitchen. Whaaat?!? Roasting is the tired cook’s secret weapon for busy weeknights or otherwise un-motivated evenings. Add oil, some spices and shallots, put it in the oven, then fuhgettabowdit for a while. The shallots will sweeten without a long saute, and take on a roasty, toasted spice flavor just by using the heat of the oven. This ain’t traditional, but it works. Just sayin’.
You can eat it simply, over a bowl of basmati rice with a dollop of yogurt or raita, or…use it as a garnish for the curried coconut tomato soup (next post!). And…I imagine some freshly baked garlic naan would go perfectly with the mix. But…this is meant to be a simple meal…so don’t get carried away, now!
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ lemon
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Whisk the olive oil, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne, mustard seeds, tomato paste, sugar, and salt together in the bottom of a large bowl. Toss the cauliflower and shallot with the spice mixture until thoroughly coated. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 25 minutes, or until soft and golden brown in places. Add the cilantro, squeeze the lemon to taste over top of the roasted cauliflower. Toss to combine, and serve while hot.