Yield
Serves 4

This is one of the ways our cauliflower was often cooked at home. I use a 2-pound head of cauliflower that yields about 7 cups of florets. When cutting the florets, make sure that each piece has a head about 1 1/2 inches wide, has a stem, and is about the same in length, or longer, as the width at the top.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
  • 7 cups delicate cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground amchoor (green mango powder) or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Generous pinch of ground asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very fine julienne strips (cut into very thin slices first, then stack the slices and cut into fine strips)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh green chilies (optional)
Instructions
 
Pour the oil into a large frying pan and set over medium heat. When it is hot, put in all the cauliflower florets. Stir and fry them until they turn reddish in spots. Remove them with a slotted spoon and spread them out on a platter lined with paper towels. Turn off the heat under the frying pan and remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.
 
Put the drained florets in a bowl. Sprinkle the salt, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, and amchoor over the top. Toss gently to mix. Taste for balance of flavors, making adjustments if needed.
 
Set the frying pan with its 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. When it is hot, put in the asafetida, and a second later the cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for 10 seconds. Now put in all the ginger shreds and stir for 30 seconds. Put in all the cauliflower and stir gently to mix. Add a generous sprinkling of water, cover, and turn the heat down very, very low. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just done and all the flavors have blended. Sprinkle the cilantro and green chilies, if desired, over the top. Toss and serve.

From Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, 2006). Copyright 2006 Madhur Jaffrey.