Recipe appears in
Puffy popcorn pieces of cauliflower, warmed and wonderful with the spices of South India – complete with a quick and easy coconut chutney.
½ head of cauliflower
1 cup (150g) chickpea flour
½ cup (75g) rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tspn salt flakes
2 tspn ground turmeric
2 tspn Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tspn mild curry powder
1 cup (250ml) very cold soda water
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 tspn finely grated fresh ginger
Rice bran oil, for shallow frying
3 curry leaf branches, washed and patted dry
coriander leaves, to garnish
1–2 limes, cut into wedges
Greek-style yoghurt, to serve
Coconut chutney (makes 1½ cups)
100g coconut flesh (or shredded coconut)
1½ tbsp coconut oil
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn chilli flakes
20 curry leaves, washed and patted dry
1 green chilli, chopped
1½ tspn tamarind purée
1 tspn brown sugar, or to taste
1 bunch of coriander, chopped
Remove and thinly slice the core from the cauliflower and set aside. Cut or tear the rest of the cauliflower into small florets about 3–4cm in size. Pick the leaves and keep these for frying also.
In a large bowl, combine the chickpea flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt flakes and 1 teaspoon each of the turmeric, chilli powder and curry powder. Create a well in the middle, add the soda water, garlic and ginger, whisking out any lumps. Add the cauliflower florets and mix to coat. Chill for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour.
To make the coconut chutney, place the coconut in a bowl and cover with just boiled water. Stand for five minutes to soften. Meanwhile, place the coconut oil, cumin and mustard seeds, chilli flakes, curry leaves and reserved cauliflower core slices in a frying pan over medium–high heat and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the cauliflower is softened.
Transfer to a blender, along with the remaining chutney ingredients and drained coconut. Whiz until smooth and combined, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time to loosen. Season to taste.
Heat 3cm of rice bran oil in a wok or saucepan over high heat to 180°C; a little batter added to the oil shouldn’t take longer than 30 seconds to turn golden brown. Carefully add the well-dried curry leaf branches (they’ll make a loud noise!) and cook for 30 seconds, or until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Working in batches, add the cauliflower florets and leaves to the hot oil after shaking away the excess batter and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until golden. Drain on paper towel.
Strain a quarter of the cooking oil into a cold saucepan, leaving a 5mm shimmer of oil in the pan. Return the pan to the heat with the remaining spices and cook for 1 minute, or until foaming. Add all the fried cauliflower and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until coated and golden. Transfer to a serving platter and scatter with the crispy curry leaves and coriander.
Serve with the coconut chutney, lime wedges and yoghurt.