Growing up with vegetarian parents meant that the majority of my meals were vegetarian. I was very lucky however, as even though my mum gave up eating meat long before I was born, she continued to cook it for us (me and my brothers/rest of the family). I was always amazed that she could make a meat dish from start to finish without trying it, and it would taste amazing! She did the same thing while we stayed with her recently, cooked us a doggy bag full of chicken curry and freshly made chappatis to take home and eat for dinner after the long drive. It tasted delicious!
Recently, I’ve wanted to try and eat more vegetables, and with it being National Vegetarian Week this week, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes from when I was a child.
Indian food lends itself really well to being vegetarian. With a big majority of India’s population following a vegetarian diet (some excluding eggs too), it’s no surprise that they have become creative when it comes to making the humble vegetable taste amazing. How could they not given the magic spices that are added. Check out my mum’s spice box, she’s had this for the last 40 years and it’s always got the essentials in it. Turmeric, chilli powder, ground cumin/coriander (we buy this mixed together), salt, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida, for those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a pungent spice extracted from a plant of the giant fennel family. Often used to ensure that there are plenty of good gut bacteria in your dish to aid digestion. Also often used to create an oniony flavour, without adding onions. Use it sparingly though, it’s a really strong flavour!
Vegetables should make up half your plate of food on a regular basis, so I have to make sure that they are super tasty at the same time right?
With lots of exotic vegetables available now, one of my favourites growing up was the humble cauliflower. It was made once every couple of weeks on rotation while I was growing up, I think it’s still on my parents regular dinner rotation now! It takes minutes to cook, packs a load of flavour and is really packed full of nutrition. You might remember the famous line about “Aloo Gobi” from Bend it like Beckham, this is a Punjabi vegetarian specialty. Gujarati Indians on the other hand, have always done cauliflower and peas, this is my personal favourite.
Usually, if my mum made this for dinner, it would be one of two dishes, along side a dhal or a potato curry (Gujarati vegetarians-aka my parents especially, love a good carb on carb combo). Sometimes my mum would add chopped potatoes to the curry and then make a lentil dish as well as another vegetable dish too, you knew on those days when you walked in you were in for a feast for dinner!
I usually make this in my Instant Pot as it means the cooking time is super speedy and I can get on with other things while it cooks. But it can be done without a pressure cooker and doesn’t take too much longer. I hope you enjoy this curry as much as I do!
Serves: 2 as a main course
Time: 10-20 minutes depending on the cooking method
- 300g cauliflower, cut into roughly 1 inch florets
- 150g frozen peas
- 1/2 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil (or flavourless oil of choice)
- 1 tsp mustard speeds
- 1 pinch asafoetida
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon passata
- Salt to taste
- 50ml-100ml water
- Freshly chopped coriander (to garnish, optional)
- Push the saute button on your Instant Pot and add your oil and mustard seeds. Wait for the seeds to start sizzle and splatter a little and then add your pinch of asofetida.
- Give the whole lot a stir and then add your cauliflower and peas and stir through the mustard seeds for around 2 minutes
- Add your dry spices,garlic, chilli, salt and lemon juice and then add your water to the pot to deglaze any mustard seeds which may have stuck to the bottom.
- Stir in your passata, and then pop the lid onto your Instant Pot. Program the pot to manual, high pressure for 2 minutes. It should come to pressure relatively quickly as all the ingredients are already warm. Give it a quick release once it beeps.
- Give the whole thing a good stir, garnish with fresh coriander leaves if using and serve.
No Instant Pot? No problem, just follow the method in a pan with a lid and cover up and steam for 10 minutes rather than pressure cooking.