I may bake a lot of cookies and cakes and such, but I also do enjoy eating healthy foods. In fact, most of the time I eat a fairly “clean” diet, meaning I avoid overly processed foods. I truly do LOVE fruits and vegetables, as much as I love sweets!
That is why I got excited when I was browsing through a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook at the library and saw this recipe for cauliflower with fennel and mustard seeds. Cauliflower (the broccoli was my own addition) is one of my fav vegetables, and fennel (a flavor used a lot in the Italian cooking I grew up with) always appeals to my taste buds.
Cauliflower and Broccoli with Fennel and Mustard Seeds
(Baghari phool gobi)
Another aspect of this recipe I liked was its simplicity. Not a lot of ingredients and no weird cooking techniques. And the only things I didn’t already have in the kitchen were the cauliflower and the black mustard seeds. Go to the store and pick up the stuff, simple right?
Ugh!!!! Okay so first of all, the grocery store by my house is stupid as hell. I go there a lot because I want to support it as it is in my neighborhood and I don’t want it to go out of business and leave a gaping hole in the shopping center. But really it is a super stupid store with a random selection and a produce area that one cannot depend on.
Like THEY ONLY HAD 2 HEADS OF CAULIFLOWER. Wtf!! It was not national cauliflower day, or the middle of the night, so I don’t know why they did not have more. I only bought one (the bigger of the two) as it weighed just over the required 2lb.
But I came to regret this later, as after I chopped it up to use, I realized I ended up with less than 2lb, which is why I added the broccoli, which I thankfully happened to have in the fridge.
And of course they didn’t have black mustard seeds. They had 3 brands of ground yellow mustard and yellow mustard seeds for obnoxiously high prices. I don’t even know why I thought I could find black mustard seeds there.
But there is an Indian grocery store in my neighborhood also, so I just went there. I don’t know where else to get black mustard seeds, or if yellow mustard seeds are acceptable substitution.
STUFF YOU’LL NEED:
- 2 lbs. cauliflower florets (I mixed broccoli–not pictured–with the cauliflower)
- 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- About 4 tablespoons water
1. Cut cauliflower and/or broccoli into 2 inch florets, no wider at the head than 1 inch.
Soak them in a bowl of water for 30 minutes.
Drain them just as you are about to use/cook them.
I put them in this large stainless steel mixing bowl, filled to the brim with water. And to make sure they were immersed in the water, I placed a large plate over them.
2. Heat the oil in a large (10-12 inch) frying pan over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add the mustard and fennel seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, add the chopped garlic.
Stir/fry the seeds and garlic until the garlic has begun to lightly brown.
I just love it when the seeds pop!! Watch out though, cause little specs of hot oil might shoot out at you! Also, the garlic will probably begin to brown fairly quickly, so be vigilant!
3. Add the turmeric and cayenne. Stir once, then quickly add the cauliflower/broccoli.
Next add the salt and water.
Stir and cook on medium heat for 7-12 minutes, or until the cauliflower/broccoli is done.
As far as the amount of salt and water to use, you are going to have to use your own judgement. I started with the suggested 1 1/2 teaspoon, and after a quick taste, I determined that the dish would benefit from a bit more salt. But then when I added the extra salt, I was worried it could be too salty, so I added more water to keep the salt/water ratio more in balance. This is why you should taste what you are cooking as you are cooking it!
Also the recipe calls for 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Now, I LOVE LOVE LOVE VERY VERY VERY SPICY FOOD. I order food extra spicy when applicable, and I have ordered dishes so spicy that my friends literally could not eat them, so if I had just been making this for myself, I’d probably use 1/3 teaspoon or more. But my family is not really into that, so I only used 1/4 teaspoon.
The cauliflower/broccoli should still be somewhat crisp, not mushy or overly soft.
If your water evaporates before the veggies are done, then add more water.
This was an excellent tasting dish! Though I just made this and nothing else (I made it more as a trial run of the recipe, to see what I thought of it), this would make an awesome side-dish in the future. The flavor of the fennel and mustard seed is wonderful, and the oil gives the veggies a nice kind of buttery taste.
It is also very healthy, the only not that healthy ingredient is the oil I guess, but you could use olive oil I guess. But a little oil isn’t that bad! And it is a pretty easy thing to make, no headaches!
As you can see in the picture above, I ended up using the cauliflower and broccoli as a topping for my salad. It was great, each floret exploded with so much flavor!!
And the little bit of extra oil/spice water left over in the pan made a great salad dressing too!
Madeline aka The Hopeful Hestia
(curious what’s up next? Well, I’ll tell you: ITALIAN RAINBOW COOKIES!!)