One of my most recent cookbook acquisitions was Neelam Batra’s The Indian Vegetarian. It contains a wealth of information about Indian cooking, and I’ve been meaning to cook a recipe from it ever since I got it, but something always stands in my way. Either I don’t have all the ingredients or the recipe would take too long to prepare. (Yes, I know there’s this little concept called planning, but it just hasn’t caught on in my psyche yet!)
Anyway, I bought two cauliflowers thinking that I would make Whole Cauliflower Baked in Classic Curry Sauce. It didn’t look to be that time-consuming, a little more than a half hour, until I took a look at the Classic Curry Sauce, secreted away in another recipe. It required at least another 50 minutes. So I gave up my dream of whole baked cauliflowers on a Thursday night and added the recipe to my Weekend-Only list.
But I did have those cauliflowers just sitting in my fridge, and I wanted to use at least one of them while they’re fresh. So I scoured the book and found a recipe for Cauliflower Broth that Ms. Batra says can be a base for a sauce or a soup. I elected to use it as a sauce for chickpeas and potatoes, and I adapted it as I went along, using my Foolproof Recipe Adapting Technique (TM): I dip a little of the sauce out into a bowl, add a tiny pinch of whatever spice I’m considering throwing in, and taste. It’s prevented me from making some big spicing mistakes in the past.
One more thing, before I show you the not-so-lovely photo: This is a great “sneaky mom” dish if your child (or spouse, for all I know) doesn’t like cauliflower because the cauliflower is completely blended into the sauce. I figure, “What they don’t know can nourish them.”
Oh, one more one-more-thing: This is a very mild (not spicy) Indian dish, so that’s another point in its Kid-Friendliness favor. I served this with Fiery Onion Relish, a recipe I originally got from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. The photo below shows a little dollop of relish on top; I actually ate it with about three times that much. I like breathing fire! But my daughter E. enjoyed hers plain, and if you like complex yet delicately seasoned food, you should like this without any embellishment.
Chickpeas, Potatoes, and Green Beans in Cauliflower Sauce
1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces
4 cups water
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
4 bay leaves
4 curry leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon garam masala (homemade, or find a brand you like)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 cups cooked chickpeas
4 medium red potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups sliced green beans, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup plain soymilk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Place all the sauce ingredients into a large pot, bring to a boil, and cook, covered, over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay and curry leaves, and puree everything else in a blender (I use my trusty Kitchen Aid hand blender right in the pot).
Return the sauce to the pot and add the chickpeas, potatoes, and green beans. Cook until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Check the seasonings and add more as desired. Add the soymilk and lemon juice, stir, and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve over basmati rice topped, if you like, with Fiery Onion Relish.
Fiery Onion Relish
1 large onion, minced
4 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. It should be so spicy that a little goes a long way! It will keep refrigerated for several days.