Manisha Pandit, creator of the popular food blog Indian Food Rocks, is a master behind the stove and camera lens. In her monthly column, she shares Indian recipes and cooking techniques that are as pleasurable to see as they are to swallow.
In this post, Manisha shares a beloved yet nontraditional recipe for roasted cauliflower and golden beets.
Ovens are not a common feature in most kitchens in India. It remains an appliance that is found in affluent homes even today. The famous clay oven, or tandoor, is not something most Indians -- or, for that matter, most middle class homes anywhere in the world -- can afford. It goes without saying that recipes that require indirect heat are, therefore, not part of the daily repertoire of a traditional Indian home cook. Braising, sautéing, and stir-frying are far more common, as is grilling over an open flame. With modern influences and fusion cooking, roasting is slowly making its way into Indian cooking and opening a whole new range of flavors.
Cauliflower, a much-detested vegetable, and usually cooked to death in most Indian recipes, gets a new life when roasted. It crispens as the sugars caramelize without becoming a soggy mess. Suvir Saran, author of several cookbooks and master of Indian fusion cooking, impressed me a great deal with his twist on roasted cauliflower. He added a bright blend of spices with cardamom as the top note. I am usually averse to adding cardamom to everything from dals to desserts to "make it Indian," but I must say that this spice blend works exceedingly well with cauliflower.
I have made an adapted version of Suvir's recipe over and over for dinner parties at my house and to take to potlucks, and it has received rave reviews every single time. I like to add seasonal vegetables, such as golden beets or turnips, that take about as long as cauliflower florets to cook. Adding diced potatoes would almost make this a roasted version of the well-known aloo gobi sans tomatoes. Sometimes I like to add whole peeled garlic cloves. I also add fresh lime juice to add tartness to round off the spices and to balance the sweetness of the roasted vegetables.
Cardamom Roasted Cauliflower and Golden Beets
Adapted from Suvir Saran's Cardamom-Roasted Cauliflower in American Masala
1 to 1.5 pound head of cauliflower, cored and broken into medium florets
2 golden beets, peeled and cut into long wedges
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced thin
1/3 cup olive oil
4 green cardamom pods
4 dried red chiles (optional)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sea salt
Wedges of lime
Like this post? See Manisha's previous topic: Bengali Masoor Dal.
All photos by Manisha Pandit.
Manisha writes the food blog Indian Food Rocks, spiced with eclectic Indian food and entertaining anecdotes.