Though eating vegan was much easier than I anticipated, I have to admit that a large part of what helped keep me focused was learning to cook several Indian dishes with my friend Shiva who has not only been kind enough to teach me some of what he knows, but also help host an Indian themed dinner party.
I have always been curious about Indian food, the colors, the smell, the fact that a huge amount of it is vegetarian and vegan. But last fall when I tried to make myself some dishes I didn’t have great success, my chicken came out tasting like soap, and my chickpea dish was heavy in that bad heavy way, not in the satisfying way. I was also imbued with the nagging suspicion that the Indian food that I had eaten in New York, which I found incredibly greasy and gut busting, was not the real deal. The wrinkle of Shiva’s nose when I stated this to him let me know that I indeed was correct and for the last two months I have been taking Indian cooking lessons. This cauliflower dish is not only simple to make, but delicious and can be eaten either cold or hot. One of our guests said to me, “I don’t usually like cauliflower, but I liked that.” The success of taking an ingredient that people normally turn their nose up at and have them digging their fork in for more, is the greatest compliment that I can get as a cook.
Foodnerdjen factoid: Turmeric is amazing stuff and among its many assets are the fact that it has both anti-bacterial and disinfectant qualities.
Curry Spiced Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower broken down into small floret (this is by far the most time-consuming part)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1.5 tablespoon Turmeric
3 tablespoons neutral nut oil (safflower, grapeseed, etc)
1/4 cup water
Once the cauliflower is cut up, heat the oil in a pan that you can cover, or a wok, until the oil is quite hot but not smoking. Add the cumin seeds and cook them until they start to pop (less than a minute), add the ginger and stir then add the turmeric and stir, you want to toast the spices but not burn them (Less than 30 seconds). Quickly add the cauliflower and stir coating it in the spice mixture. Add the water and cover the cauliflower. Turn down the heat to medium low allowing the cauliflower to steam. 10 minutes is usually long enough. Cook longer for a softer texture. An added bonus to this dish is that it retained its texture and taste for several days in my fridge and I used the leftovers I had with some cooked potatoes, celery and yellow onion to make a quick and healthy potato salad.