Cauliflower... with a little spice!

Fall is here and winter is around the corner - even if it was in the 70’s this last weekend! The variety of vegetables in the local produce section of our grocery store is starting to get thinner by the day. Instead of having the same green beans or broccoli, how about trying cauliflower?

I can already hear the moans and groans. “Cauliflower looks weird and it has no flavor” is what I often hear and, you are correct. But, we can spice up this utilitarian vegetable in a number of ways. One or our favorites is Aloo Gobi which is a potato and cauliflower dish, but I recently found out my wife likes cauliflower bhaji or more accurately cauliflower poriyal.

Cauliflower poriyal is similar to Aloo Gobi but it doesn’t have potatoes. The preparations are similar and both dishes share several common spices like mustard seeds, coriander, green chilies, turmeric and cilantro. One spice that you may not have in your cupboard is curry leaves. I happen to have a curry leaf plant and they have a somewhat citrus and intensely smoky flavor. 

Sadly, there isn’t a good substitute for curry leaves; definitely not curry powder as they are completely unrelated. The only suggested substitute for curry leaves I could find was a mixture of bay leaf with a bit of lime zest or a Kaffir lime leaf but that recommendation stated that it just didn’t give the same flavor. Please don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe.

If you are interested in growing a curry leaf plant, I ordered mine from a green house in New York about a year ago for a few dollars. It is a tropical plant and does well in our steamy Kentucky summers but when the temperatures start to drop into the 50s at night, it’s time to take it inside to a nice warm, and partially sunny, location.

Live, Laugh, Love and Eat well.

Cauliflower poriyal

Courtesy of

Serves 3 to 4

  • 3 cups cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1 small Onion sliced thinly
  • 1 green chili (I used jalapeno) seeds removed and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp Turmeric divided
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 TBSP Coriander powder
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
  • 1 sprig Curry Leaves
  • 3 TBSP oil (olive or peanut)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the cauliflower, some salt, and 1 tsp of the Turmeric.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and add to an ice bath or rinse with lots of cold water. Drain again and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mustard and curry leaves (removed from the stem) and let sizzle until mustard starts to pop. Then add the onion and green chilies and sauté 4 to 6 minutes until the onions are soft or start caramelizing.

While still on the heat, add the drained cauliflower and toss well.  Add the remaining spices and mix well. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until brown and caramelized.

Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipes for this week!