This recipe transforms cauliflower from a humble cruciferous vegetable into something spicy, slightly exotic, and with the fine grainy texture of couscous.
A chef I follow on Twitter sent out a tweet about making cauliflower ‘couscous’ which immediately piqued my interest. I’m a big fan of this underrated vegetable because its is quite adaptable and fairly neutral in flavour. Pay it some attention in the cooking process, add the right spices and you can make it really interesting.
Aside from when I make a cauliflower cheese, I prefer to cook it dry by either roasting it in the oven or stir frying it. It keeps more of its texture this way and absorbs the flavours you add to it.
I bought a beautiful cauliflower from the Hope Street Market and set about experimenting in my kitchen. This is really easy to make and I cannot wait to make it again.
*my quantities for this recipe are for a smallish head of cauliflower. If you are using a big head, just double up on everything. Like with all cooking, I believe spice is a personal preference thing, so add and subtract according to your taste.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1/2 cup (or so) of water
- 1T butter or olive oil
- 1t cumin
- 1/2t garam masala
- 1/2t ground coriander
- salt to taste (I used smoked salt)
- 1T finely chopped parsley
- black pepper
- pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional) – I also used smoked chilli
Separate the cauliflower florets from the head and place them in a food processor, ensuring you don’t fill the bowl more than a third. Blitz until the florets are broken up into the desired grain like texture. Empty the bowl and repeat until all of it is ground up.
Bring the water to boil in a wide non stick frying pan and add the cauliflower. Place a lid on the pan, allowing it to steam for about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and continue stirring the cauliflower until all the water evapourates off. At this stage the cauliflower will be cooked through and will just start catching on the pan.
Add the butter or olive oil and stir to coat. Add all the spices and parsley and keep stirring. Adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat and serve.
This can easily be made in advance and microwaved before serving.
The risk of making this recipe is adding too much water to the pan and over cooking the cauliflower which will then turn to mush. If you have any doubt, rather add less water and keep adding a bit more as you go. It cooks fairly quickly. I have seen recipe that do not pre steam the cauliflower and simply stir fry it on olive oil, but I like the fluffy texture of doing it this way.
I plan to play with different flavours in the future. Perhaps cooking it in stock instead of water and adding lemon zest or finely chopped up preserved lemons.
This will make a wonderful accompaniment to meat, chicken or fish. I visualise tangy, sweet chicken kebabs draped on top of this and served with a crunchy salad or roasted vegetables.
This is sure to impress vegetarians.