I was seduced by a giant head of cauliflower at the farmer's market this week, and decided to see if the Kirschner Collection could help me find a way to prepare it with some Indian-inspired seasonings. I found success in two 1960's-era "Indian Cooking" cookbooks. I wound up making a mash-up of these two recipes plus my own imagination. Thumbs up!
Side note: these recipes got me wondering about the use of "flowerette" (which spell-check doesn't recognize as a word) versus "floret" or "florette," so I consulted the OED. "Flowerette" was the preferred term in the early 1900s, it seems, but "floret" started making appearances in the 1940s. "Floret" derives from and old French word for flower whereas "flowerette" is a derivation of "flower."
And that's enough etymology. Here's the food:
Gobhi ki Sabzi (Curried Cauliflower)
From Recipes: The Cooking of India (1969)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon scraped, finely chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 pounds cauliflower, washed, trimmed, divided into small flowerets, and dried thoroughly with paper towels
1 small ripe tomato, washed, cored and finely chopped
1 fresh hot green chili, about 3 inches long, washed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 tablespoon ghee, melted
In a heavy 4- to 50quart casserole, heat the vegetable oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Stir in the mustard seeds and immediately add the cumin seeds, ginger, and onions. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute, add the salt and turmeric, and continue stirring for 3 or 4 minutes.
Drop in the cauliflower and turn the flowerets about with a spoon until they are evenly coated with the onion mixture. Then stir in the tomato, chili, ground cumin, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the coriander. Reduce the heat to low and, stirring constantly cook over moderate heat until the cauliflower is tender but still intact.
To serve, transfer the entire contents of the casserole to a heated platter or bowl and sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of coriander and the melted ghee.
Alu Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower)
From Cooking the Indian Way (1962)
8 oz. potatoes
1 medium sized cauliflower
4 oz. butter or ghee
1/2 teaspoon cummin seed
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Peel and dice potatoes. Divide cauliflower into flowerets of the same size. Wash vegetables and drain. Heat fat, add the potatoes, cummin seed, ginger, turmeric, chilli, and salt and fry for 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower and fry all together for 5 minutes. Cover and cook on a very slow fire till cooked. Sprinkle over freshly ground black pepper and serve. No water should be added. If green ginger is available, use a 1-inch piece sliced very thinly instead of the ginger powder