“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” .
Clare Booth Luce
Really I can’t imagine a simpler dish with so much depth of flavour that each bite makes your heart sing with joy! And that too, using the very humble cauliflower as the main ingredient. When I was a kid, I used to run away just listening the name cauliflower unless it was stuffed in parathas. I was astonished when my girls devoured this dish of Shorshe Phoolkophi or Mustard Cauliflower curry Recipe in minutes and we actually had to request them to leave some for us because boy it smelt so good cooking!
This traditional recipe from the exotic and elaborate Bengali cuisine seems unique in its simplicity and has quite a story behind it. While Bengali food is mostly rich and decadent with layers upon layers of flavours and fish as a staple on the menu, the vegetarian food is a legacy of Bengali widows. Till a few decades back, it was a common practice to banish widows to a highly monastic life, restricting their diet to a few simple vegetarian ingredients. All these restrictions evolved into a new cuisine which was simple but refined and definitely delicious. Inexpensive vegetables, peels and seeds were transformed with the help of ginger and a handful of spices into glorious vegetarian dishes.
Mustard is an essential ingredient in most Bengali recipes and give this Mustard Cauliflower Curry a very distinct flavour – it’s like once you taste it, cauliflower would be incomplete without mustard for you! Unlike many white foods that are considered bad for general health (white pasta, rice, flour, sugar) , cauliflower is one white food that is actually very good for us, being loaded with vitamins, minerals fibre and folate.
I prefer to make this dry Mustard Cauliflower Curry recipe as a side with some protein main, without roti or rice. It’s filling, yummy and one of those dishes really anyone can cook.
1 medium head cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
1/2 inch piece ginger
4 green chilli peppers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons mustard seeds or 1 tablespoon bottled mustard paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 tablespoons ghee/mustard or olive oil
A small bunch fresh coriander leaves
This Is What You Do:
Cut cauliflower into florets. Wash and pat dry.
Add mustard seeds/paste, ginger, 2 green chilli peppers, lemon juice, salt and turmeric to a food processor. Blend to make a smooth paste.
Marinate cauliflower florets in this paste for 15-20 minutes.
Heat oil in a frying pan, add cumin and nigella seeds. Sauté for a few seconds or till the seeds splutter.
Add the cauliflower florets along with the marinade to the tempered oil. Add a splash of water. Cover the pan and cook on medium low heat till the florets are done.
Slit the remaining 2 chilli peppers, chop coriander.
Remove the lid from the pan, raise the heat to medium. Add chillies and coriander. Stir fry for a minute.
Serve hot with rice or roti OR simply as a warm salad/side with kebabs or lentils main.