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1 April, 2017 10:30:59 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 April, 2017 10:32:35 AM
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Thomasina Miers’ recipes for Sri Lankan cauliflower curry

Independent Online/The Guardian
Thomasina Miers’ recipes for Sri Lankan cauliflower curry

I find the flavours and cooking of southern India and Sri Lanka intoxicating, with their use of fresh coconut and inspired spicing. It’s a cuisine so full of depth and flavour that it’s easy to feast on endless vegetable curries without really noticing that you’re not eating meat. These curries are much faster to cook than the slow-cooked meat dishes of the north, but they’re just as satisfying. Farther east, the Japanese have a light touch with rice and seafood, and frown on dairy, so here, too, you can eat incredibly healthily without missing out on taste. Much as I love butter and cream, or the comfort of a hearty stew, it’s a treat to try these different styles, especially as warmer weather starts to beckon.

Sri Lankan-style cauliflower curry
Use mild chillies instead of birds’ eye, and this becomes beautifully gentle and suitable for the entire family, even the littlest ones. As Yotam said in these pages a few weeks ago, it is absolutely worth seeking out fresh curry leaves: buy them in bulk and freeze for other recipes. Serves six.

2 large cauliflowers, ideally with crisp, fresh outer leaves
4 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
1 tin coconut milk
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
6cm knob fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 green birds’ eye chillies, finely chopped (or mild green chillies)
30 fresh curry leaves 
1 tbsp fennel seeds
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
2 heaped tsp tamarind paste
12 cherry tomatoes
1 large handful roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped

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Cut the leaves from the cauliflowers and set aside. Cut three thick “steaks” from the centre of each cauliflower, and break the rest into florets, keeping the stalks. Rub the slices, stalks, florets and leaves in oil, just enough lightly to coat them. Arrange the leaves, stalks and florets in a single layer in an oven tray and the slices in a second tray, then season sparingly.

Scoop two heaped tablespoons of the coconut solids from the tin of coconut milk into a wok, and fry on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the oils separate and the solids start turning golden. Turn down the heat, stir in the garlic, ginger, half the chilli and 10 curry leaves, and fry gently, stirring, for five minutes.

Roughly crush the fennel and cardamom seeds in a mortar and add to the wok with the turmeric, fish sauce, tamarind, tomatoes and the rest of the tin of coconut milk. Add 100ml water and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to high and grill the tray of cauliflower leaves, stalks and florets for six to seven minutes, until slightly charred at the edges but retaining some bite, then tip into the curry sauce. Grill the cauliflower slices for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them halfway, until tender and lightly blackened. In a separate pan, fry the remaining curry leaves in the rest of the oil for three or four minutes, until crisp.

Divide the curry into six shallow bowls, and top each with a grilled cauliflower slice, some cashews and a scattering of fried curry leaves. Put the leftover chilli in a little bowl, for those who want an extra kick.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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