If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting New York Chef Suvir Saran, no doubt you reveled in his bold, colorful and magnetic personality.
Not surprisingly, this dish is very much like him — it makes a big impression from the get-go.
“Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower” is from his cookbook, “Masala Farm” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. Suran, owner of Devi restaurant in New York, wrote the book with Charlie Burd, his long-time partner. It includes recipes and stories about their time shared in their upstate New York farmhouse situated on 67 acres with three ponds, goats, chickens and an abundance of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
The recipes are farm-to-table, but done often with Indian flair.
This cauliflower dish has been a signature one since his restaurant opened. It’s sort of like Chinese sweet-and-sour, but with cauliflower, not pork, and boasts a spicy kick.
The cauliflower florets are covered in a spice mixture of cardamom, chiles, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns, then roasted on high heat. They’re then coated liberally in a thick red sauce made of an ample amount of ketchup, garlic and cayenne.
The cauliflower comes out tender with crunchy edges. The sauce is sweet, tangy and spicy. It’s so good that you’ll want plenty of naan or rice to mop it up with. Indeed, with ketchup as its base, it’s sure to be a favorite with kids if you tone down the spice for their palates.
Serve it as a side to most anything. It would even be fabulous with scrambled or sunny side-up eggs for breakfast.
Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower
(Serves 8 as a side dish)
3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
3 whole green cardamom pods
3 dried red chiles (optional)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
One 2 1/2- to 3-pound head cauliflower, cored and broken into medium florets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-by-11-inch baking dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the canola oil and set aside.
Grind the cardamom, chiles (if using), coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in a coffee grinder or small food processor until fine. Mix spices with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add cauliflower, sprinkle with the salt, and toss to coat. Transfer the vegetables to a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes.
To make the sauce: Heat canola oil and pepper in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring often. Add ketchup and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and add cayenne and salt. Cook until ketchup thickens and becomes deep red in color, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
When cauliflower has roasted for 20 minutes, add sauce to the pan and stir to evenly coat the cauliflower. Continue roasting until cauliflower is tender, another 10 to 20 minutes, stirring midway through. Serve immediately.
Adapted from “Masala Farm” by Suvir Saran
More: My Q&A with Suvir Saran