Don’t overlook the humble cauliflower, when it comes to being inventive with your cooking
This isn’t your typical meal of rice with cauliflower in it. Instead, the cauliflower florets are blitzed to a finely grated form to mimic rice.
The rise of the ‘raw food’ trend has been momentous in recent times, especially given the current focus on health and natural living. Cauliflower is one of the first ingredients that began to be used in its raw form as a substitute for grains. A couple of brilliant cooks and chefs started to come up with delicious and unique ways of using cauliflower beyond its traditional form. Today, it has a cult following around the globe.
A basic and affordable vegetable, cauliflower is often overlooked – especially in comparison to its famous cousin, broccoli. But the truth is, cauliflower has so many health benefits as it contains an array of nutrients.
Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants which provide cancer-fighting properties. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and beta-carotene. It also has excellent detoxification effects on the body, especially when consumed in raw form.
Next time you buy cauliflower, think beyond the traditional aloo gobhi or cauliflower pakoda. There are so many interesting and delicious ways in which you can use this vegetable. Try it as a delicious curried soup or roast it with a sprinkle of garam masala or use it as a mash instead of potato.
The recipe here is tempered cauliflower rice. This is a simple, no fuss dish drawing inspiration from the rice dishes of South India.
In South India, especially Tamil Nadu, there are so many kinds of rice dishes. Collectively referred to as ‘variety rice’ these are an everyday fare often eaten in the afternoons with just a side of pickle and pappads. Some of the famous ones include curd rice, sambhar rice, lemon rice, tamarind rice and coconut rice.
This cauliflower rice recipe is a take on the classic lemon rice. Instead of rice, we use the grated cauliflower kernels, flavour it with lemon juice and then add a tempering of spices.
There are so many ways you can use this tempered cauliflower rice. Have it as the main dish (like I did) with a side of pickle, pappads and salad or you could make a Buddha bowl with chickpeas and an assortment of roasted veggies. It is great as a filling for burritos – replacing the lime rice, or a nice accompaniment to your steaks (hugely cuts down the guilt factor compared to fries!).
And with the barbecue season upon us, this cauliflower rice also makes an excellent addition to grilled meat.
Tempered cauliflower rice
Note: Make sure that you only buy really fresh and good quality cauliflower, especially when you are using it as a raw food.
1 whole cauliflower; separated into large florets
2 tsp ghee/clarified butter
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp raw cashewnuts
1 tbsp raw peanuts
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
3 dry red chilli
1 green chilli, slit in half
½ tsp turmeric powder
Asafoetida/hing, a pinch
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to season
Wash the florets well and dry completely.
In a food processor, blitz the florets to get the grainy, rice-like texture. If you do not have a processor, then finely grate the cauliflower.
Heat ghee and oil in a large deep pan; roast the cashew nuts and peanuts separately and keep aside.
In the same oil, crackle mustard seeds and then add curry leaves and dry red chilli.
Reduce heat and add green chilli, turmeric powder, asafoetida and the blitzed cauliflower.
Season with salt and add juice of ½ lemon. Mix well and toss on high heat for a minute or two and then remove from heat.
Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.