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Yummy Cauliflower Pilaf

May 7, 2016

cauli pilaf

This is a really easy recipe but the secret to its success is the freshness of the spices. You really need to use fresh turmeric and fresh curry leaves here. We have a curry tree growing in our garden and it runs rampant, supplying us (and everyone else) more curry leaves than we know what to do with!

The curry tree is part of the rue family which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. The very pungent leaves are used in many dishes in South India and Sri Lanka where they impart a curry flavour like no other. To use them fresh, you need to fry them well in oil to extract the flavour and tenderise them as older leaves can be a bit tough.  The ones that you buy in the supermarket tend to be a bit older so if you can get your hands on some home-grown ones; fabulous! Keep an eye out for them when you are walking as the tree appears on nature strips and hanging over fences where they have been planted for their foliage, not for cooking purposes! You will know them by their distinctive, almost tobacco-y, curry smell when you crush them – it’s unmistakable. Grab a handful as they freeze well. Apparently they are very good for reducing blood sugar levels in Ayurvedic medicine but I have no idea how many you would need to eat for this to happen!

I have also used fresh turmeric which is much easier to find in the supermarket these days. Peel the tough skin unless it is really fresh, otherwise I leave the skin on; ditto for the ginger. This really is a ‘loose’ recipe where I use a handful here and handful there. I tend to be pretty heavy handed with spices so go with what you like.


curry leaves40g fresh ginger

30g fresh turmeric (or 2 teas dry turmeric powder)

3 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

1 teas mustard seeds

½ small red chilli, sliced finely (optional*)

60g coconut oil (or about 3 tabs)

handful of fresh curry leaves (about 30)

600g cauliflower florets

½ cup (or mug) of fresh peas (or frozen)

3 tabs fresh coriander, chopped

3 tabs toasted cashews, chopped

juice ½ lemon

salt and pepper to taste

lemon wedges to serve

Blanch the peas by placing them in a mug and pour over boiling water, set aside.

Grind the fresh turmeric, ginger and garlic on SP 8 for 5 seconds. Add the onion and mince further for another few seconds. Set aside.

Without washing the bowl, prepare the cauliflower by chopping on SP 4 until resembling rice size pieces. Add 100g water and cook on 100ºC for 6 minutes. Drain well.

Heat the coconut oil in a large shallow frying pan and fry the mustard seeds until they start to pop, being careful not to burn them. Add the ginger/garlic/onion mix with the curry leaves and sauté until fragrant. The curry leaves will wilt down. Add the cauliflower and drained peas and continue to sauté for another 10  – 15 minutes until it is coated with spices and a few crusty bits start to form on the pan. Season with the lemon juice, coriander and salt & pepper and serve with the spiced yoghurt and cashews to garnish. And lemon wedges if you like it more lemony!

Spiced Yoghurt

300g coconut yoghurt or natural yoghurt

½ teas ground garam masala

juice ½ lemon

salt to taste

1 tab fresh coriander, chopped

Mix together well and use to garnish the pilaf.


*You could use ½ teas dried curry flakes instead, or no chilli at all!


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