*Lyrics from Judge Jury and Executioner on the album AMOK from Thom Yorke‘s new band Atoms For Peace. We all know how I feel about Thom Yorke by now (LOVE, in case you missed it), and this new collection of songs is stellar, as always. I’m not a groupie or an über fan, so I don’t know the inner workings of why this band was formed, or what’s happening with Radiohead… all I know is that it’s good, and you should listen to it. And I apologize to Thom for using his lyrics to vaguely indicate that beans, cauliflower and curry cause digestive issues. The song is great, and the mis-use of his words? Ok, well, it’s funny, is what it is. So sue me. (Ok, don’t, but please, I mean no disrespect.) Moving on.
And now, anther installment of Kitchen Monthly… On a day like today, here in the Northeast, we woke up (and went to bed, frankly) with a winter storm mucking up all of our springy energy. We are having to shovel (or, having your delightful neighbors do your walkway for you because they are soooo kind! thank you, lovies!), and deal with one more grey, miserable, drizzle-able day. So I thought, perfect! I’ll share that recipe today! It’s warm, cozy, and easy to make. Well, except for the beans, they take a while to soak/cook/etc., but you can used canned, so, you needn’t do that step today.
Recently I’ve been making an effort to try to make new foods at home. Ever since we moved to NYC, though, and can really get pretty much any food we want, I’ve been lax in expanding my repertoire (French food, I’m coming for you). But, I have been making a pretty tasty concoction that I’m loosely calling a curry – I mean, there is curry powder in it – but we all know that each curry is different, and different regions, countries, cultures make vastly different takes on what we Americans call curry. So, bear that in mind: this is a tasty meal, curry or not, and one that I’ve made about a half dozen times with great reviews from both the husband and a couple of sisters. And if my instagram feed is to be believed, many of you out there might enjoy knowing how I created this dish.
Cauliflower-Carrot Curry with Chick peas (or Chicken)
- Protein – you can make this vegetarian by using cooked and drained chick peas, about 3 cups, or boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 1.5 lbs – I’ve made both ways and they’re both delicious
- 1 large head cauliflower, stem removed and florets chopped into larger than bite-sized pieces
- 2 med-large onions, halved and sliced – about 2 cups
- 5-6 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch chunks (I turn the carrot while cutting on a diagonal to produce a fun wedge shape that is pretty equal in size throughout) – yield about 2 cups
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (can also use crushed – whichever you prefer works)
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1/4 cup, or to taste of heavy cream or half-and-half (I’ve used both, but the heavy cream is nicer, albeit more caloric)
- bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- olive oil, unsalted butter, about 2-3 Tbsp each
spices: (this ratio is basically what I follow, so when I made a smaller pot of this dish in our Pied, I just used half of the spice amount; adjust the amount cayenne to your own taste and heat tolerance)
- 2 tsp madras style curry powder – I found mine at Whole Foods, but whatever style you enjoy would probably work here
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp each of coriander, ginger, cardamom, and turmeric
- 1/2 tsp each cayenne, cinnamon
So, if you’re using chicken, in a heavy dutch oven, brown the boneless, skinless thighs in a couple Tbsp of unsalted butter/olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove and let rest.
If you’re using chick peas, drain them from either their cooking liquid or their cans and proceed to the next step.
Sauté onions and carrots in a Tbsp each of olive oil and butter for about 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper while cooking them. Next, add the garlic and powdered spices with another Tbsp oil or butter (your choice – I’m terrible and just use what I feel like when I’m making up recipes, but I’m sure I’ve done it both ways with success). Toss together and let the spices start to heat up to get fragrant.
If using chick peas, add them now and toss with the spices. You may need to make a well in the center of the vegetables so that the beans come in contact with some of the melted butter/oil in the pot. If using chicken, you’ll add it in a minute.
Add tomatoes, cauliflower, bay leaf and cinnamon stick and toss together. Season the cauliflower with salt (no need to add pepper here). If using chicken, place the thighs back in the pot so that there is liquid surrounding them, and that there is a layer of veggies on top of them (they’re going to continue to cook by braising in the liquid released from the veggies and tomatoes). If you don’t have enough liquid (usually the tomatoes bring a certain amount of juice to the party), you can add about a cup of water and toss together. Also, scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot and toss together. Basically, once your mixture is looking stew-like (liquid enough, but not too much – the cauliflower will release a lot of water as you steam/braise it) you’ll want to make sure that the chicken is beneath the surface so it’ll keep cooking without drying out.
Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook with the lid on for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower and carrots are tender. About midway through the cooking you may need to stir the mixture and redistribute the chicken (if using) so that the cauliflower braises, too. Use your best judgement. Once the veggies have reached the desired doneness, turn off the heat and add in the peas, cilantro, and cream, and stir/toss so that the liquid is adequately blushed, and the peas are heated through. Taste, and adjust salt as needed.
Serve over basmati rice, and bask in the glow of making something that has no proper name or country of origin, but is damn tasty if you do say so yourself. Enjoy!