Baked whole cauliflower with Indian spices, mint and yoghurt

Baked whole cauliflower with Indian spices, mint and yoghurt

By
From
Real Food by Mike
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

Ideally you want to brine your cauliflower overnight, but even a couple of hours in brine will work wonders. Look for a small cauliflower and trim only a couple of the outside leaves as you want as many as possible to help protect the cauliflower while it cooks – plus the leaves make great eating. My Indian spice mix is a personal favourite, but you can choose any spices you like. You’ll find many varieties in Asian grocery stores. Try using different yoghurts, too. I love buffalo milk yoghurt for its light texture, and coconut yoghurt works very well if you have dairy allergies. If this is the case you can also replace the clarified butter with olive oil. Additions of sliced fresh chilli to add heat and mint for a menthol hit are great twists.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 small cauliflower
125g clarified butter
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 tablespoons indian spice mix
1 lime, juiced
60ml curry oil, to serve
1 handful coriander, to serve

Saltwater brine

Quantity Ingredient
2 litres water
100g sea salt

Raisins in tea

Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons darjeeling tea leaves
500ml boiling water
60g raisins

Yoghurt dressing

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon grated fresh vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove
1 handful mint leaves, finely shredded
300g yoghurt

Method

  1. For the saltwater brine, combine the salt and water, stirring to fully dissolve the salt.
  2. Place the cauliflower in a non-reactive, snug-fitting container with a lid. Pour over the brine to fully submerge the cauliflower and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. For the raisins in tea, brew the tea leaves in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain the tea over the raisins in a bowl and allow them to swell for 30 minutes before using. (They keep well in the refrigerator until needed. Any type of tea works well, depending on your taste and what you’re using the raisins for.)
  4. The next day remove the cauliflower from the brine and pat it dry.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a heavy-based roasting tin with baking paper.
  6. Place the cauliflower in the tin, cut side down, so it sits upright. Pour the tea from the raisins over the cauliflower so it hydrates the vegetable and forms a puddle in the tin.
  7. Melt the clarified butter in a frying pan over medium heat. When it starts to warm up, add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Cook for 1 minute until the seeds start to pop in the pan and become aromatic. Brush the clarified butter and seed mixture over the cauliflower and then dust it with the Indian spice mix. Cover the tin with aluminium foil and place it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, undisturbed. Remove the foil and baste the cauliflower with the clarified butter and tea liquid sitting in the bottom of the tin. Bake for another 30 minutes, basting regularly with the clarified butter– spice mix.
  8. After the cauliflower has been cooking for 1 hour, insert a skewer or knife into the base. If it’s tender, remove it from the oven and rest it in the tin for 15 minutes. If it’s not tender, cook it for a few more minutes and check again.
  9. Squeeze the lime juice into the baking tin to mingle with the pan juices and create a lovely dressing.
  10. For the yoghurt dressing, fold the ginger, garlic, mint and a pinch of salt through the yoghurt.
  11. Serve a wedge of the cauliflower, like a piece of cake, with a few spoonfuls of the pan juice vinaigrette, a dollop of yoghurt dressing, the tea-soaked raisins and a drizzle of curry oil. Scatter the fresh coriander leaves over to finish.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Cauliflower is full of phytochemical, and other, compounds that can work to inhibit cancer cell growth. A 100 g serve of cauliflower gives 80 per cent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, a proven agent in the fight against harmful free radicals and infections. Cauliflower also contains good amounts various B complex vitamins and vitamin K, all required for fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. The Indian spices have essential oils that activate both the salivary glands, to aid with digestion, and the glands that secrete bile in the stomach and intestine. Antioxidant essential oils in spices have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects. They’re also anticoagulant (i.e. they prevent blood clotting) and carminative, which means they relieve intestinal gas, thereby improving digestion and appetite.
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