You guys are going to want to make this. It has everything in it to keep your body busting with health and wellness and spices to keep you warm against the draft of the leaves falling off of the trees. It tastes like the opposite of last week’s (Canadian) thanksgiving dinner (and leftovers) too, an exotic journey in the other direction.
Classically, butter chicken is made with cream and sometimes actual butter, so it makes sense that it was always my fave, it’s basically French food with a charming Indian accent. This dish is inspired by butter chicken but I have changed enough of its components that I don’t think I can get away with calling it butter cauliflower. It is still sort of butter cauliflower though.
The cream has been replaced with a blend of dried coconut and cashews (still rich, but now a bit sweet from the coconut, and also dairy-free). I have a simple recipe for it here, you should go and soak the cashews now.
I have added extra aromatics (*ahem* ginger and turmeric –curry is one of the few places these anti-inflammatory beasts actually blend in –of course we’re going to take full advantage of this!). Also leeks (an underused but so useful cancer-fighting Allium superstar), lots of garlic and red onions for that extra pigment punch.
The tomato passata (tomato purée commonly used in Italian cooking. It tastes good but I especially like that it is sold in a jar, not a can) adds some sweetness and acidity and is an important part of this dish both classically and my twisty version. It also boasts the well-known anticancer antioxidant lycopene. If you make this when tomatoes are in season, definitely use fresh tomatoes in place of the purée (about twice the volume of fresh tomatoes, they will cook down).
If you are sensitive to tomatoes or want to be more seasonal, you can replace the tomato purée with a squash purée (just use whole, diced butternut/kabocha/pumpkin/acorn squash, and cook and purée it together with the rest of the veg in the recipe) It will be nice and sweet like tomatoes but you will need to adjust the water amount (probably add a bit more) and add some extra lemon juice for acidity.
We also add some sheets of kombu to the sauce –you’re not going to taste it, but it will add some minerals that your body will be totally thrilled about. It’s optional, mostly because it will taste close to the same either way, but also because I know it can be tough to find it in some places. I just spent a week surfing in Tofino with kelp creepily tickling my legs every day (I’m pretty sure in the exact way that sharks do) just to come back home and buy it at Whole Foods. I think between the smell of the surf boots and my wetsuit cutting off all circulation to my brain, I always forget my seaweed plan but NEXT TIME I’m coming home with a bin of Tofino sea vegetables that will go straight into my dehydrator. I’ll send you some :)
I like to make a big batch of this and freeze it after the blender step (before adding the cauliflower). This way, I can defrost it and add fresh cauliflower or some big handfuls of kale, or some lentils and spinach, or water it down and add an entire bunch of cilantro at the end for a flavourful soup. Basically, it means I can reinvent it each time I pull it out of the freezer. I do love this meaty cauliflower version though (and it still freezes well once you have added it).
I lightly roasted the cauliflower before adding it to the sauce in this recipe, it just adds a bit of texture, but you can also throw it right into the sauce raw and cook it entirely in the sauce. I have also added chickpeas to the recipe, because if this hadn’t turned into dinner for myself and my almost every bean-intolerant husband 20 minutes after its sassy photo shoot, there would definitely have been chickpeas in it.
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 2 Red Onions, diced
- 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
- 1.5 Tbsp Turmeric, fresh (2 tsp if using dried)
- 1 Leek, diced
- 1.5 tsp Garam Masala
- ½ tsp Paprika
- 1 recipe of Coconut/Cashew Cream (or one can of coconut milk)
- 2.5 c Tomato Purée (Passata) (one bottle)
- 2.5 c Water
- 2 sheets of Kombu (optional)
- Several Grinds of Black Pepper (to enhance turmeric absorption)
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- 1 big Cauliflower head, cut into florets
- 2 c Chickpeas, cooked
- 2 Cilantro bunches, roughly chopped (including stems)
- Fresh Lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 325*F
- In a saucepan, in the coconut oil and a splash of water, sweat the onion, leek, garlic, turmeric and ginger until soft.
- Add the garam masala & paprika and sauté for a minute more.
- Add the kombu, coconut milk, tomato purée and water.
- Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid on top (to prevent evaporation).
- Remove kombu, transfer sauce to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Put the kombu back in.
- Bring back to a simmer and add the chickpeas. Lower the heat.
- Roast the cauliflower in the oven (I don't add any oil) for 20 minutes until it gets a small amount of colour.
- Add to the sauce and mix in.
- Finish with the chopped cilantro and fresh lemon juice.
- Serve on top of brown rice or quinoa, add a squeeze of lemon juice and more fresh cilantro on top.
- I usually serve this with some thinly shave cabbage tossed with lemon juice, cilantro & hemp hearts.