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  • Gobi Mussallam
    Drowned Cauliflower

    YIELD: 6-8 Servings
    TOOLS: You’ll need a 6-quart / 6-L stockpot; a large bowl filled with ice water; a food processor; a small mixing bowl; a spice grinder or mortar and pestle; a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L sauté pan; and a blender or an immersion blender.
    VEGANIZE IT! Substitute Baked Tofu or pan-fried tofu for the Paneer and omit the heavy cream. This dish gets plenty of creaminess from the cashews alone.

    There is nothing that says you’re ready to party better than this dish. The cauliflower is so festive displayed on a platter along with a deep, rich sauce. Your guests will rave. Just don’t tell them how truly easy it is to make.

    • ¼ cup /35 g raw, unsalted cashews
    • ¼ cup /40 g golden raisins
    • 3 cups /710 mL boiling water, divided
    • 1 medium yellow or red onion, roughly chopped
    • 1 (2-inch / 5-cm) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon /45 mL cumin seeds
    • 4 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
    • 2 black cardamom pods
    • 2 tablespoons /470 mL butter
    • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
    • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
    • 1 teaspoon /80 g red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 7 ounces /200 g Paneer, cubed and baked or pan-fried (will yield 2 cups / 470 mL)
    • 2 tablespoons /120 mL tomato paste
    • 1 small fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chile, stem removed and finely sliced
    • ¼ cup /60 mL half & half or heavy cream
    • 1 large head cauliflower (about 6 inches / 15 cm in diameter), keep the bottom base of greens and stalk intact
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 5 large cassia or bay leaves
    • 10 whole black peppercorns, crushed
    • 5 whole cloves, crushed
    • 14 cups /3.3 L room-temperature water
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
    1. Place the cashews and raisins in separate small mixing bowls and add 1 cup / 240 mL of the boiling water to each. Set them aside to soak as you prep the remaining ingredients.
    2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the onion, ginger, and garlic into a watery paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and set aside.
    3. In a 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm the oil. Add the cumin seeds and green and black cardamom pods and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown.
    4. Very carefully, add the paste from Step 2 to the sauté pan. Keep a lid handy in case the mixture splatters. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 3 minutes, until the mixture is slightly browned. Add the butter and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
    5. Add the tomatoes to the sauté pan and cook for 2 minutes, until the toma-toes start to break down. Add the remaining 1 cup / 240 mL of boiling water and cook for 1 minute.
    6. Drain the cashews and add them, along with the Garam Masala, the coriander, 2 teaspoons of the salt, the red chile powder, and the tomato paste, to the sauté pan. Bring to a boil.
    7. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 7 minutes, until the tomatoes break down completely and the mixture comes together. If the mixture thickens too much, add 1 teaspoon or so of water. Be careful not to add too much, as the sauce must not be too watery later, during the baking time.
    8. Remove and discard the black cardamom pods and the skin of the green car-damom, if possible. It's not a problem if you can't find all of the pods, as they will get blended down and just add flavor to the dish.
    9. When finished cooking, transfer the mixture to a blender or use an immersion blender in the sauté pan and process on high for 1 to 2 minutes. I always use a little water to clean out the bottom of the blender and be sure I get every last bit of the curry.
    10. Drain the raisins. Return the curry to the sauté pan over medium–low heat and add the raisins, the fresh chile, and the half &frac; half and cook for 3 minutes, until the mixture is warmed through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    11. Set the oven rack at the second-from-top position and preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C.
    12. Place the cauliflower upside down (stalk facing up) in a 10-quart / 9.5-L stockpot over medium–high heat. Turning the cauliflower upside down allows the edible parts to all get cooked perfectly. Add the turmeric, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, the cassia leaves, the peppercorns, the cloves, and the room-temperature water and bring to a boil.
    13. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. I like my cauliflower al dente; if you prefer it to be softer, by all means, cook it a little longer. Test the cauliflower’s softness with a fork before removing it from the pot. Remove from the heat.
    14. Carefully remove the cauliflower from the stockpot. Set it in a colander to drain thoroughly and transfer it to a 2-quart / 2-L ovenproof dish. The key is to put it in a dish just big enough to just hold it. If the dish is too large, then the topping will eventually dry out while baking.
    15. Pour all but 1 cup / 240 mL of the curry in the sauté pan over the cauliflower. Be sure to coat the entire head. Bake for 25 minutes, until the flavors really have a chance to soak into the cauliflower. Remove from the oven and gather the sauce that has pooled on the sides of the cauliflower head. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower head again and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
    16. Pour the reserved 1 cup / 240 mL of the curry (you may wish to warm it a bit beforehand) over the dish to spruce it up a bit. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately. I like to place the whole cauliflower on a platter surrounded by basmati rice so that everyone can help himself or herself. You can also serve with Roti or Naan and cut it into wedges.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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