Recipe : Mashed Cauliflower Indian Style

My father had late onset diabetes.  He also really and truly enjoyed food, but being a strict disciplinarian, he denied himself of many things he loved to eat – particularly in the form of desserts and simple carbohydrates.  My mother didn’t cook much non-Indian food so he would count on me to make things like roast chicken or steak which he had learned to enjoy while living in Germany.  He didn’t care for too much spice and preferred the bland flavors of European cuisine.  One of the foods he enjoyed was mashed potatoes which of course he had to eliminate from his diet once diagnosed with diabetes.


So, long before it became famous in restaurants or anyone had even heard of it, I started making mashed cauliflower.  I’ve always made it simply by sauteing a little garlic, adding the cauliflower along with a bit of salt, pepper, thyme and chicken broth. Let it steam, puree and serve.  Add a touch of cream and you won’t even know it’s not potatoes.  My father always loved it and it made me happy to know that perhaps he didn’t miss the potatoes as much.


My son, on the other hand, is not a fan of potatoes unless they are in the form of French fries.  It’s likely because I don’t really eat potatoes myself.  I’ve tried the mashed cauliflower on him a few times and while he likes the vegetable almost any other way, I can’t get him to touch the version that his grandfather enjoyed so much.  I am a fairly determined person and I knew there had to be a way since it wasn’t about the vegetable itself.  What I remembered today is that, unlike his grandfather, my son loves flavor and spices and so this is the recipe I came up with.


Ingredients

1 head fresh cauliflower – washed and cut into florets

3 cloves garlic – peeled and roughly chopped

1 medium sweet potato – peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup chicken broth – use vegetable broth or water if you want to keep it vegetarian

1 tsp salt – or to taste

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 Tbsp heavy cream

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

4-5 kefir lime leaves (kadhi patta)

1 Thai bird chili – cut into large chunks

1 tsp fresh lime juice


Recipe

Heat a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and garlic.  Just before garlic starts to brown, add the cauliflower and sweet potato and stir.  Allow to saute for a few minutes stirring occasionally.  Add chicken broth, cover and turn heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until cauliflower and sweet potato are very tender.  Remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until smooth.  Add salt, cayenne, ginger powder and cream and mix well.  Place a small heat-proof bowl on the flame and add the canola oil and cumin seeds.  Once the seeds start to sizzle, add the chilies and kefir lime leaves.  Allow to heat through until leaves start to turn brown.  Add the hot oil mixture to the pureed cauliflower. Add lime juice and stir well.  Garnish with cilantro before serving. 


This is a great accompaniment to steaks, chicken, pork, etc.  We had it with a spicy sesame crusted Coho Salmon.  I paired it with a Yamhill Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir which worked quite well with its own spicy notes. 


 
Note: I used 2 chilies and left the seeds and stems in.  It really wasn’t all that hot but feel free to control the heat level by removing the seeds if you wish.  If you want to make it hotter, chop the chilies up into smaller pieces. They will add a nice crunch to the end result and provide additional heat.

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