This cauliflower and chickpea curry is a remake of an old recipe I wrote over two and a half years ago, although I have forgotten it for a while (unintentionally of course, it happens when I work with new recipes on a regular basis), but I do remember now that it was once a very popular dish in our household; especially when the warming aroma of the spices filled the air in the house when the curry bubbled away on the stove, it was almost festive. And the taste was surely comforting with a combination of earthy, smoky, mildly spicy with a hint of citrus flavour. Perhaps it is because of the cold autumn days and a craving for comfort food that reminded me of this warm, forgotten recipe. And I am glad I did.
Fennel is a welcome addition to the dish which results in a pleasant surprise: it adds a mild licorice taste which compliments brilliantly to the otherwise complex flavour of the spices. I have to say it has become one of my favorite ingredients lately as its taste pairs well with many others, it is great in stew (with lentils, pork, chicken, or fish etc) and perfect in salads. I cook with it a lot and still happy with all the results so far! I believe it deserves a place in all kitchens, and please give it a try if you haven’t yet discovered its beauty.
Note: don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, they are mostly spices that you probably have in your spice drawer already. Mix all ground spices in a small bowl so it is ready as you will need to work fast when frying the spices.
- 1 medium head of Cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 can (400g) of cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked (for garnish) and stems finely chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 thumb-size ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 pieces star anise
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
- 1 can (400g) chopped tomato
- ½ tsp. gram masala
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. Mild curry powder
- 1 heaped tsp. Madras curry powder
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cube good quality vegetable stock
- Pinch of salt (or more to taste)
- Vegetable oil
Heat a splash of vegetable oil on medium heat in a large saucepan or casserole, add the onion, fennel, carrot, ginger and coriander stem and a pinch of flaky sea salt, fry for about a couple of minutes or until the veggies start to soften. Add the spices mix and fry until fragrant (here you need to be careful not to let the spices burn at the bottom of the pan), add ¼ cup water to deglaze the pan. Pour in the chopped tomato, then the coconut milk. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, star anise and vegetable stock cube; stir until everything is well combined.
Add the chickpeas and the cauliflowers, then let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes or until the cauliflowers are soft but not mushy. Check the seasoning. Once cooked, transfer the curry to a large serving bowl or serve in individual portions with steamy basmati rice or naan bread, garnish with coriander leaves.