Gently Simmered Cauliflower in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
indian-style cauliflower in tomato gravy

After deciding between a craving for broccoli or cauliflower, I settled on the subtler tasting cauliflower as I wanted a curry too and this vegetable is a perfect vehicle to carry a spicy bouquet. I've certainly been making a more concerted effort of late to come up with fancier vegetable sides to go along with meals needing an extra dose of veg. The advantage of this one is it comes together in hardly anytime at all once your prep is done. And it adds elegance and flare to the dinner table.

gently simmered cauliflower in tomato gravy

If desired, add a few handfuls of spinach near the end of the cooking time before adding the chickpea flour and simmer gently until wilted for extra flavor and earthiness.

Gently Simmered Cauliflower in a Spicy Tomato SauceGently Simmered Cauliflower in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on May 21, 2014

Tender pieces of fresh cauliflower simmered in a spicy, fragrant and delicious Indian-style tomato sauce

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

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  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil or other oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1 fresh red chili, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 lbs (675 g) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into uniform bite-size florets
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • 2/3 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted chickpea flour (see note below)
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften — about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeño and chili to the pan and stir for another few minutes. Now toss in the ground corander, ground cumin, turmeric, mustard powder and cayenne, and stir for another minute. Stir in the salt and add a few spoonfuls of tomato. Stir to deglaze the pan and then add the cauliflower. Stir to coat and then add the rest of the tomatoes along with 1/2 cup of water.

  • Bring to a boil, adding more water as necessary. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is fork tender — about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and half of the chopped parsley or cilantro. Sprinkle in a some of the toasted chickpea flour and stir well to combine. Add more to achieve your desired thickness. Simmer gently for another few minutes. Stir in the rest of the parsley or cilantro and serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 side servings
  • Note: I consulted a few recipes while drafting this recipe and one element of the dish I was inspired to add was the toasted chickpea flour. Thanks to Raghavan Iyer, author of 660 Curries and Indian Cooking Unfolded for the inspiration. It is not necessary for the dish but it thickens up the sauce and adds a bit of nuttiness. You many also just sprinkle in a bit of chickpea flour or other flour to thicken or add less water and simmer down the tomato sauce before adding the cauliflower.

  • If you do wish to toast the chickpea flour, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-heat. Add a cup of sifted chickpea flour and stir, constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan so that the flour doesn't clump for about 15 minutes or until it turns a reddish brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Cool completely before storing in a well-sealed jar in the refrigerator. This is a great addition to a wide array of curries and soups. The toasted flour will keep for at least 6 months.

Other recipes featuring cauliflower you are sure to enjoy:
Mixed Vegetable Coconut Curry
Aloo Gobi
Cauliflower and Pea Curry
Curried Cauliflower and Black-Eyed Pea Soup


Joanne said...

I am terrible with thinking up side dishes, but this sounds great! Definitely including this on the menu with our next curry!

Unknown said...

Given that cauliflower is such a clean and mellow sponge I can imagine how well it would soak up that intense sauce, delicious x

Unknown said...

I have seen this recipe around for awhile now and FINALLY tried it. Best one yet!! My friend LOVED IT!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it for my tea tonight and really enjoyed it.