This is one bowlful where the simplicity leads the flavors, a very Bengali recipe, made with very Bengali seasonings & cooked by not so Bengali husband. This is a recipe well loved & perfected by my hubby after many trials. The taste of childhood still lingers with him, when his Bong neighbors would sometimes treat them with this cauliflower. But when you are a kid, you do not ask for recipes. Ever since we got married, I heard him talking about this, expecting his Bong wife to recreate his fond memories, but the magic in my hands did not match the magic of his neighbors. At last he gave up on my trials & picked up the task himself. I will proudly say that he nailed it this time & we did have a very lovely treat with “Luchi” (Poori is called Luchi in Bengal & it is made with maida instead of the regular wheat flour).
A lot of recipes from West Bengal are cooked without any use of onion & garlic. So the taste & flavor solely rely of the right use of spices. I am not very sure how commonly Kalo Jeera/Kalonji/Nigella seeds is used in other states of India, except may be in pickles & flatbreads… but in Bengal it is a must have in the spice box. It is one of the 5 spices of the “Panch Phoron”, & I grew up eating vegetables & lentils simply seasoned with kalonji, cumin, hot green peppers & of course mustard oil. I remember the Fish Curries with Hot Peppers & kalonji & the Sunday brunches with Kalo Jeera/Kalonji Parathas with very light potato curry, or Luchi with something like the recipe which we are going to present today. It is a very easily done recipe, where the vegetables are just barely seasoned & then covered & cooked at low heat to seal in the flavors.
- 1 large Cauliflower, florets broken in to medium sized pieces
- 2 Medium Size Potatoes, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes
- 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil (use any other cooking oil, if this is not available, but the mustard oil with the Kalonji adds the very distinctive flavor here)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kalonji/Nigella seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds (optional)
- 4-5 Green Hot Peppers ( I used Serrano.. adjust amount to taste), Slit into four
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon Sugar ( Not to make it sweet, but just for the balance of taste)
Add kalonji/nigella seeds to 1 tablespoon of oil (save the rest of the oil for later) & heat the oil. The flavor of the spice infuses in the oil as it heats.
Once they start to sizzle add the mustard seeds if you are using them, & add the green peppers. Be very careful here, for the all the seeds including those of the pepper will pop.
Once the seeds start to pop, add the cauliflower pieces & the cubed potatoes. Toss them for the oil & spices to combine & coat the veggies. Add salt, sugar & stir quickly at high heat for a few minutes. You will see the cauliflower & the potatoes getting slightly brown at the corners.
Add 1/4 cup water, & Cover to cook at very low heat.
Uncover, check if done. The Cauliflowers should not be mushy & falling apart. It tastes best if it is tender, but stiff enough for your teeth to bite into it.
Drizzle the rest of the mustard oil on the top & toss to combine.
Serve hot with Pooris.. (deep fried & puffed wheat breads)..
Yes sinfully indulge yourself, for this is what it tastes best with:-) (you can use any flat bread instead of the poori)
This one looks mild, but believe me, with the combination of mustard oil, kalonji & those hot green peppers, it is far from mild. You will need to feel that unexplainable hit at the other end of your nose to enjoy this.. it will open up your sinuses:-) Sending the cauliflower to Think Spice: Kalonji hosted by Dee of Ammalu’s Kitchen, & the brainchild of Sunita.