I adore cauliflower. I know, that is not a statement one is likely to hear often. But I do. That strong sulphuric smell when I steam and then roast cauliflower is enough to send me into a tizzy. I grew up on rice steamed with cauliflower for lunch every week day, and I tell you, you haven’t smelled white rice cooking until you’ve smelled it cooking with cauliflower.
All right, all you unsympathetic ears. I made this dish for a housemate once, and he said he had never, before then, actually enjoyed cauliflower. Plus there are the incredible cancer-fighting, DNA-repairing traits of cauliflower that it shares with its cruciferous brethren like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and so on. So here is a simple way that can be included in any Indian meal, with chapatis or naan, with rice and dal; or with any Western meal that has strong flavors as the vegetable side. Or — what the heck — put it in a burrito.
Presenting Gobi Masala done in a Sindhi way.
Half a head of cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into thin florets, none wider than half an inch
Half a teaspoon whole cumin seed
Few sprinkles of asafetida
Half a teaspoon red chili powder
Half a teaspoon turmeric powder
One teaspoon coriander powder
One inch piece of ginger minced
One-two serrano chilies, sliced
One medium tomato, choopped
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro to garnish
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a thick-bottomed pan on medium-high. When it shimmers, put in the asafetida, the cumin seeds, and the red chili powder.
They will sizzle presently. In go the ginger and serrano chili. They will start to look blistered.
Now it is time for the cauliflower to go in. Stir to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with salt. Stir occasionally, while leaving the pan uncovered, on medium-high.
Fifteen minutes later, some of the florets will show some translucence on the stems, and some browning on the buds.
Now, put in the coriander, turmeric, and tomatoes, some extra salt to taste, and stir to coat the florets once again.
Cover, lower the temperature to medium, and let it cook for another ten minutes. At the end, garnish with cilantro.