Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

They say that dog owners look like their pets.  In our household, we take this one step further and are like our pets in character.  We own, or rather are owned by a cocker spaniel called Dexter and a dachshund called Rolo.  Dexter is my dog, the Doxie belongs to the husband.

Dexter - my 'first born'
Like me, Dexter has long, curly hair (when he's not clipped); he sees the good in everyone - especially if they proffer food; he rolls over and capitulates to anyone who cares to show dominance (not in the S&M way @DickyBundock and @KateSelwood1 if you're reading this!!) and he's generally loving and faithful.

The Doxie is long, slim with a bit of a pot belly at times; she's tenacious, stubborn and feisty; and whilst she's generally tame, God help you if you cross her (we've never tested this theory, but I'm sure if her family were threatened, the threatenee wouldn't escape unscathed).

Another random tale from the house of Lil Ms Squirrel?  Nope, stick with it.  I'm bringing it round to yet another tenuous link.

The similarity between dog and owner was highlighted during this evening's dinner.  I made Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry - recipe courtesy of the lovely Angela Hartnett.  The cauli has been hanging round for nearly two weeks when I originally bought it to make a biryani, but since then I've always had something more interesting to try.  As it was a bit worse for wear, I chopped out the best bits for the curry, and fed the remains to the circling pooches.

Rolo the Doxie 
Dexter, who has no regard for what he eats unless it's a fresh tomato wolfed his down without it touching the sides.  When we used to have parrots, this dog has eaten whole birds eye and scotch bonnet chillis without batting an eyelid.  The Doxie has, like her master, a more discerning palate.  She carried her floret into the lounge like it was the most precious thing ever.  She lay on the green berber rug and proceeded to nibble the floret into tiny pieces before giving it a look of disgust and upping and leaving it for me to untwine from the carpet strands.

I'm sure Dexter would've enjoyed the curry too, but it was pretty good and so I didn't leave any.  He did, however have a little share of poppadom - something the 'other side' of the family don't like because they're too noisy.  It disrupts the football apparently.  Not sure why it offends the Little Dog.

Like many of the other recipes I tried, although it sounded good in principle, I was a little sceptical of the spicing whilst it was cooking.  True, it had all of the key Indian spices in it which were toasted to release their flavour; but tasting it just before serving it seemed lacking.  Then I remembered the very last ingredient was fresh coriander.  I'm becoming a huge fan of the Garden Gourmet fresh herbs now I'm cooking so many different dishes.  It's great having fresh-ish herbs in winter without having to resort to those 'living' pots from the supermarket which, no matter how you try and nurture them, always turn up their toes three days after purchase.
Cauliflower and chickpea curry

What a difference that made.  It went from lacking to tasty with just one teaspoonful.  This is definitely something I will make again.  Low fat and tasty.  The only downside is the amount of washing up it generates.  But I'm sure with practice, I'll find a way to economise on that.

Definitely needs serving on a warmed plate.  I didn't do this and it went cold pretty quickly.

One other top tip.  Make sure, unlike me, that you have the key ingredients to hand.  I could've sworn I had a tin of chickpeas in the cupboard.  Instead I had eleventy million cans of mixed beans so spent a good ten minutes sifting through open tins of them picking out all the chickpeas.  Surely that's dedication to this challenge :)

Ingredients - Serves four to six

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • 3 medium onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 star aniseed
  • ½ tsp ground chilli
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander


  1. Remove the stalks from the cauliflower and cut into large florets. In a pan of boiling water, add the cauliflower and cook for five minutes. When ready, drain from the water and place back in the pan. Cover so it stays warm.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, cut the onions into small pieces. Squash the garlic with the back of a knife to make it easier to peel. Chop until nice and fine.
  3. In a pan, add a touch of butter, plus the onion, garlic and ginger, and sauté until golden brown.
  4. In the same pan, add the dried spices and cook for a further five minutes.
  5. Add the tin of tomatoes and chickpeas and stir well. Then add the cooked cauliflower. Top up with 100ml of cold water and bring to a simmer for five to 10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked.
  6. Finish by adding the chopped coriander. Serve on a warm plate.

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