My mother moved my sister and me with her from Fort Worth, Texas to Mar Vista, California. Being a newly single parent, my mother began working long hours to support us. During this time, an Indo-Fijian (Fijians whose ancestors came from India) woman named Madhu, would babysit us at her home. After school, we would go to Madhu’s house, watch TV with the other kids that she babysat, afterwards play outside until my Mom would pick us up. Towards the end of the day, Madhu would start cooking her family’s dinner. Every night she takes small balls of dough, flatten the balls shaping into ovals, followed by grilling on her stovetop. Naan, as I later found out is the name of this bread.
Most evenings, Madhu would peel fresh shrimp from a galvanized bucket, next sauté the shrimp in a frying pan, adding oodles of fragrant spices, soon to be swimming in a luscious highly spiced sauce. As the aroma started seeping from the small modest kitchen, filling up the house, and spreading outdoors, my stomach would start craving for this unknown meal. Each night while I waited for my Mother, deeply I desired to stay for dinner and taste what I only knew by smell. So odd too, since I was a child who grew up on mostly Southern food, not yet exposed to food from other cultures, but I was so eager to sample.
Then one night it happened…my Mom had to work overtime and could not pick us up until late. That was the night that my sister and I ate dinner with our babysitter Madhu, and her family. The flavors of Madhu’s curry was bold and wondrous, my plate was small, not enough to hold all that I wished to devour, too shy and modest to ask for more. My nose had not failed me, I was forever captivated by Indian food.
Many times I have experimented with Indian dishes, never being able to replicate what I tasted that night. However, this vegetarian/vegan dish is extremely similar. The meat won’t be missed, I promise you. Rather than attempt to mix spices to obtain the perfect curry seasoning, I simplified and used a ready-made curry powder. Quick and easy is what I sought after for this dish. After my success with this curry dish, I’ve decided that I’m going to try out more Indian recipes and venture into making my own curry powder from dry spices, when I have more time. But for now, this dish is perfect for my family either as a side dish or main.
- 1 medium-large cauliflower
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Rice Bran Oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 (15 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 (15 ounce) can organize chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- A good handful of cilantro, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the cauliflower into medium florets. In a large sauce pan, add cauliflower florets, cover with water, add some salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Once the cauliflower comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat and drain. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and sauté for approximately 8 minutes until soft. Stir often to avoid browning.
- Add the chile pepper flakes, curry powder, and salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with their juice and the chickpeas. Stir well, then add the cauliflower. Pour in ¾ cup of cold water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower is tender ( a fork easily enters cauliflower).
- Remove from heat and stir in the gram masala and half of the chopped cilantro, then check the seasoning. Serve scatted with the remaining cilantro and accompanied by brown rice or naan.