Spicy Cauliflower Recipe

A spicy Indian dish from Vancouver's Rangoli. These large slices of cauliflower are a delicious vegetarian substitute for steaks or other cuts of meat, although they also works as a side dish with meat curries. Vancouver chef Vikram Vij (of the restaurants Vij's and Rangoli) and his wife Meeru Dhalwala published their favourite homemade Indian dishes in their newest cookbook, Vij's At Home: Relax, Honey. This is a great example of a restaurant dish that can be simplified at home.

1 head cauliflower, outside stalks cut off
1/2 cup cooking oil
1-1/2 cups puréed or crushed canned tomatoes
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
10 cloves (optional)
3" cinnamon stick (optional)


Step 1: Cut cauliflower, as you would a pie, into 6 pieces if it’s a smaller head and 8 pieces if it’s a larger one. You could just as easily cut up the cauliflower into smaller florets in this recipe, but we enjoy the “steak” cut and also find it’s easier to reheat this thicker cut the next day. Wash and carefully place large cauliflower pieces in a colander to drain.

Step 2: Combine oil and tomatoes in a large wide pot on medium-high heat. (Since the pot is large, you may need to turn it on to high if your stove burner is small.) Add ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, cloves and cinnamon, stir well and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until oil glistens from tomatoes.

Step 3: Reduce the heat to low while you mix in cauliflower. Carefully place each large piece of cauliflower into the pot and gently stir so that the tomato masala covers all the pieces. If necessary, use a large spoon to ladle tomato masala into the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower pieces. Increase the heat to medium, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. When you stir, if you notice that the cauliflower isn’t cooking, increase the heat. If it’s sticking to the bottom of the pot, decrease the heat. Pierce one of the larger pieces with a knife to see if it is soft (not mushy). If necessary, cook cauliflower, covered, for another 1-2 minutes. (If florets have broken apart because they overcooked, don’t worry; this dish is still delicious.) Serve with rice and coconut, lentil or chicken curry.

Reprinted with permission from Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala's Vij's At Home: Relax, Honey (2010 Douglas & McIntyre).

Photo Cookbook Vikram Vij Vij's At Home

John James Sherlock