Who said vegetarian main dishes can’t be as breathtakingly beautiful as a regal, Mughalai-style roast? Created in the same vain as Dum Aloo, Paneer Butter Masala and Shammi Kebabs, this traditional dish from Uttar Pradesh makes a big deal of the humble cauliflower by serving it whole. Yes, whole.
Richly spiced and cooked with yoghurt and creamy cashew paste, the whole cauliflower is treated with more respect than any vegetable could ever wish for. It is first rubbed with golden turmeric, salt and butter, and then roasted in a hot oven to concentrate its flavours and give it an incredible smoky, caramelised flavour. Finally, it’s simmered in the yoghurt and cashew sauce until it sucks up all the spices and becomes juicy and robust.
Unfortunately, Gobi Musallam is an elusive dish I’ve never spotted on a restaurant menu in the UK. They obviously don’t know what they’re missing. Forget boring old Aloo Gobi, this isn’t your average cauliflower curry – this is your secret dinner party weapon you use to impress your mates and astonish any irritating Indian food snobs you might know. Come on, we all know one.
Gobi Musallam makes a stunning centrepiece for the dinner table and is perfect for sharing. Give everyone a large spoon and tuck in, breaking away the tender morsels of cauliflower, peas and spicy sauce. Scoop up with flaky paratha and a splodge of chilli and cumin-spiked yoghurt.
Cauliflower never tasted this good.
1 whole cauliflower, leaves removed but root left on, rubbed with salt, turmeric and 25g softened butter
100g peas (I use frozen)
150g fresh tomatoes, pureed
1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
For the spice paste:
1 onions peeled and roughly chopped
2 green chillies
12 cashew nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
1 inch cinnamon stick
½ tsp nutmeg
6 green cardamom pods, husks removed
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tsp salt
Fresh coriander leaves, desiccated coconut and kalonji seeds to garnish
1. Place the turmeric-rubbed cauliflower on an ovenproof tray and roast at 175C for 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. Grind all the ingredients for the spice paste until smooth.
3. In a large, non-stick pan, melt the butter then add the spice paste. Cook, stirring all the time until lightly golden brown. Add the blended tomatoes, tomato puree and milk. Allow to simmer on a low heat for 8 minutes. Add the peas.
4. Add the whole cauliflower and baste with the sauce. Cove with a lid and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and baste again, cooking for 10 minutes with the lid off. Serve in a large bowl or platter, garnished with coriander leaves, coconut and kalonji seeds.