Deep fry it and he will eat it, I thought. I was right. In the end it wasn’t rocket science, but that’s how I was able to coax Mr GFAF to eat cauliflower without his customary childhood nightmare about the aforementioned brassica resurfacing: with a simple recipe for perfectly crisp Indian spiced Pakoras with Yoghurt and Cumin Dressing.
It all started a few weeks ago on a visit home. Dad requested I give him a cooking lesson in how to whip up one of his old school favourites: Cauliflower Gratin. I hadn’t cooked a gratin in quite a while as it’s not something we eat often, but I channeled my Year 9 Cookery Class and armed with flour, butter, milk and loads of cheese to disguise any imperfections, I messily mastered that béchamel sauce. I am proud to say it was lump free and delightfully cheesy.
We sat down to dinner that night and I proudly served Mr GFAF a significantly sized portion of my Cauliflower Gratin to accompany his roast chicken. At the end of dinner I was thinking back to why Cauliflower Gratin had slipped off my recipe radar. I concluded that it was probably because it’s a bit on the heavy side of the calorie count with all that butter and cheese (Do I sound like Jessica from MKR?) plus how would two people get through a whole baking dish of the stuff, when Mr GFAF intervened: “No, it’s because I don’t like cauliflower.”
Ouch. I forgot that one.
It was then that he reminded me of his childhood brassica nightmare.
The story goes that one night at the family dinner table when Mr GFAF was a whippersnapper, he told his parents he did not like cauliflower and thus he could not eat the serving in front of him. His parents reiterated that he needed to eat the cauliflower otherwise he would forego dessert. Again, Mr GFAF junior refused to eat the cauliflower. Rather than holding his nose and gulping the stuff down like the rest of us would have done, he chose an alternate method. He took a mouthful of cauliflower and, like a ruminating cow, proceeded to make himself sick at the dinner table before remonstrating to his parents “See, I really don’t like cauliflower.”
He never had to eat it again AND he got dessert!
Now, I have to admit that cauliflower isn’t my favourite vegetable, but I do enjoy it roasted whole despite it looking like a ghostly brain, or served as a dreamy puree pillow for gently grilled scallops, or added to a golden and fragrant yellow curry of chicken and of course in these crispy Indian spiced Pakoras. You can adjust the vegetables used in the Pakora recipe to suit your taste but I think it is really worthwhile to keep the cauliflower in – trust me on this one. Other vegetables you might like to swap in are potato, sweet potato or fresh corn – it’s up to you!
- 1 cup Chickpea Flour (Gram Flour / Besan Flour)
- 1 cup Self Raising Flour
- 11/4 cups Water
- 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon Chilli Powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh Coriander, chopped
- 250g Cauliflower, finely chopped
- 1 Zucchini, finely chopped
- 1 small Eggplant, finely chopped
- 4 Mushrooms, finely chopped
- Ghee or another suitable oil for frying such as Sunflower
- Chop the vegetables and set aside.
- Place all other ingredients (except the frying oil) in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine, ensuring there are no lumps in the batter.
- Add the chopped vegetables to the batter and stir until well combined.
- Heat 1-2cm ghee or oil in a heavy based frypan - enough to fry your Pakoras. Test the temperature of the ghee or oil by adding a few drops of batter. If the batter quickly rises to the surface and begins to brown the oil is at the right temperature.
- Gently lower large tablespoons of the batter into the oil - being careful not to overcrowd the pan. You can use wet hands to help shape the Pakoras too if you find this easier.
- Use a slotted spoon to turn over the Pakoras in the oil until cooked through. This should take around 5 - 6 minutes. Make sure that they are well cooked all the way through.
- Remove the cooked Pakoras from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towel Continue to cook the remainder of the batter in batches keeping an eye on the oil temperature
- Serve the Pakoras with the Yoghurt and Cumin Dressing and your favourite Indian Chutney. A Mango chutney works well.
- For the Yoghurt and Cumin Dressing combine 200g of plain Yoghurt (a small tub) with 1/2 teaspoon of Cumin powder and the juice of half a Lemon.