Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cauliflower Pasanda (in which I brazenly ignore my MoFo theme)

Okay, I am totally cheating on my WWI theme with this recipe (well, maybe not totally, since India was still a British colony at the time, and thus contributed its fair share of blood, sweat, and tears to the war effort), but let's face it: my partner's thoughtful, articulate guest post about substitution, reinterpretation, and the evolving senses of ersatz is a pretty tough act to follow.

And besides, this dish is just too good not to share; the minute I saw it in The Guardian I knew it had to be veganized ASAP, because what's not to like about roasted caulifower in a creamy sauce with nuts and raisins?  (Note: the name "pasanda" comes from the Urdu word for "like" or "favorite." It also makes me think of pandas, which everyone likes, and are in fact many people's favorite animal. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

My main substitution was coconut milk in place of the dairy in the original; I also added chickpeas for protein, increased the number and quantity of spices, and used cashews instead of almonds because A. that's what we had, and B. we like them better anyway. The end product was every bit as good as I'd hoped: absolutely delicious on the first night, and even better as leftovers, which disappeared very quickly. All in all an unqualified win, and definitely one to put into regular rotation. Enjoy it while you can, kids, because tomorrow we're back on rations!

Cauliflower Pasanda
~ 1 large head cauliflower
~ 1-2 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cumin seeds, mustard seeds
~ 1 large yellow onion
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
~ 1 small red bell pepper, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, garam masala, fenugreek powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: turmeric, cayenne (more or less to taste)
~ Generous dash mace
~ 1 14. oz. can chickpeas, drained
~ 3/4 cup raisins
~ 2 14 oz. cans coconut milk
~ 3/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
~ 3/4 cup chopped, toasted cashews

~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
~ Separate the cauliflower into small florets and chop the stalks into bite-sized pieces. Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet, coat with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside.
~ In a large, deep skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and toast the cumin and mustard seeds for about a minute, until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add the onion and cook about 5-7 minutes, until softened but not browned.
~ Add the garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and seasonings. Cook a few minutes more, until fragrant.
~ Stir in the chickpeas, raisins, and coconut milk, cover the pan, and bring nearly to boiling.
~ Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the raisins plump up and all the flavors blend together.
~ Add the cauliflower and fresh cilantro, mix well, and cook another 5 minutes.
~ Stir in the toasted cashews, taste for seasoning, and serve hot over basmati rice; as ever, some spicy pickle wouldn't come amiss.


  1. This was such a spectacular and easy dish! Yum! Thank you for sharing. Its our pasanda now!

    1. Yay - I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I'm probably going to incorporate it into a dinner party menu in the upcoming because it manages to taste like A Real Curry while remaining relatively quick and user-friendly.

  2. I made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic - like a big warm hug in a bowl. Leftovers for dinner tonight and my boyfriend is already asking when I'm going to make it again. I agree with Rachel - our pasanda too now!