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Alice Zaslavsky’s Keralan fried cauliflower with coconut chutney

This delicious, gluten-free cauliflower recipe from In Praise of Veg author Alice Zaslavsky is great for share plates or a savoury breakfast.

Puffy popcorn pieces of cauliflower, warmed and wonderful with the spices of South India, complete with a quick and easy coconut chutney. These are already gluten-free and can easily be turned vegan by using coconut yoghurt for dipping.

Serve as a stunning share-plate, or turn into a breakfast by popping an egg or two alongside.

Ingredients

  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup (150 g) chickpea flour
  • ½ cup (75 g) rice flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt flakes
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 cup (250 ml) very cold soda water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • Rice bran oil, for shallow-frying
  • 3 curry leaf branches, washed and patted dry
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish
  • 1-2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Greek-style yoghurt, to serve

Coconut chutney

  • 100 g coconut flesh or shredded coconut
  • 1½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 20 curry leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1½ tsp tamarind purée
  • 1 tsp brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1 bunch of coriander, chopped

Method

  1. Remove and thinly slice the core from the cauliflower and set aside. Cut or tear the rest of the cauliflower into small florets about 3-4 cm in size. Pick the leaves and keep these for frying also.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chickpea flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt flakes and 1 teaspoon each of the turmeric, chilli powder and curry powder. Create a well in the middle, add the soda water, garlic and ginger, whisking out any lumps. Add the cauliflower florets and mix to coat. Chill for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
  3. To make the coconut chutney, place the coconut in a bowl and cover with just boiled water. Stand for 5 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, place the coconut oil, cumin and mustard seeds, chilli flakes, curry leaves and reserved cauliflower core slices in a frying pan over medium-high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the cauliflower is softened. Transfer to a blender, along with the remaining chutney ingredients and drained coconut. Whiz until smooth and combined, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time to loosen. Season to taste.
  4. Heat 3 cm of rice bran oil in a wok or saucepan over high heat to 180°C; a little batter added to the oil shouldn’t take longer than 30 seconds to turn golden brown. Carefully add the well-dried curry leaf branches (they’ll make a loud noise!) and cook for 30 seconds, or until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
  5. Working in batches, add the cauliflower florets and leaves to the hot oil after shaking away the excess batter and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
  6. Strain one-quarter of the cooking oil into a cold saucepan, leaving a 5 mm shimmer of oil in the pan. Return the pan to the heat with the remaining spices and cook for 1 minute, or until foaming. Add all the fried cauliflower and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until coated and golden. Transfer to a serving platter and scatter with the crispy curry leaves and coriander. Serve with the coconut chutney, lime wedges and yoghurt.

Images and text from In Praise of Veg by Alice Zaslavsky, photography by Ben Dearnley. Murdoch Books RRP $59.99. To see more, visit inpraiseofveg.com

First published February 2022

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