This is one of those vegetarian dishes that simply features the main ingredient, in this case, cauliflower.
This roasted cauliflower, or phulkopir roast, is a Bengali family preparation, apparently on high rotation in my Grandmother’s kitchen.
There is a spice hit from the Bengali panch phoran and the late addition of sliced chillies. At first look, there appears to be a lot of ghee, but this is absorbed into the cauliflower and it doesn’t become oily. This ghee brings out the flavour of the cauliflower.
The dish is not hot and goes well with most dishes in this cookbook. It makes a great addition to menus for vegetarians.
My Grandmother pan-roasted the cauliflower and added a little water in the original recipes. I have modified this original recipe to use oven roasting instead, giving a better texture and preserving the taste of the cauliflower. Oven roasting without liquid will give slightly burnt tips on the cauliflower, which is a desirable outcome and adds to the dish.
If you want to pan-roast, follow the recipe and instead of putting in the oven, add one cup of water and cook covered on a stove top for around 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Cut the cauliflower into generous florets. See the notes below for a description of a simple technique.
- Place the florets in a bowl, and sprinkle with the turmeric. Gently toss to ensure each floret is coated.
- Heat the ghee in a small frypan over medium heat. Add the panch phoran and fry until the seeds just start to crackle, which will only take a minute. Be very careful not to burn the spices.
- Slowly pour the ghee over the cauliflower and ensure that each piece is well coated. Sprinkle over the salt and gently toss the florets. Keep tossing until there is no ghee left in the bottom of the bowl and it has all been absorbed into the cauliflower.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a baking paper-lined oven tray. Place them cut side down where possible. If there are loose seeds left in the bowl sprinkle them over the florets.
- Place cauliflower in oven and roast for 40 minutes or until tender. A few mildly burnt tips are acceptable.
- Toss the roast cauliflower with the sliced chilli, coriander and lemon juice.
- A medium-sized head of cauliflower weighs about 800g.
- To make the florets, cut the cauliflower vertically into four wedges. Then cut the hard stem out of each of the wedges and gently separate them into large florets. This will provide a lot of flat edges to help with the cooking and colouring of the florets.
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