Cauliflower Bezule 4.000

Renee Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick

Plate Lab Aug 15, 2014

Want to make cauliflower irresistible? Treat it the way Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam does. His vegetarian interpretation of a multi-textured Indian snack calls for the cauliflower to be cooked twice: fried in a chili-spiked batter and then sauteed in a tangy-spicy combination of aromatic ingredients. Your dinner guests will think they're at the best Indian restaurant in town.

Make Ahead: The batter can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; whisk before using. The cauliflower can be fried up to an hour before mealtime, but to get the right texture, quickly deep-fry it again just before sauteing and serving.

Where to Buy: Look for kashmiri chili powder, black mustard seed and fresh curry leaves in Indian and pan-Asian markets. Whole dried kashmiri chili peppers can be ground in a coffee grinder.


Servings:
4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon kashmiri chili powder (may substitute 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder plus 1 teaspoon paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger root
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets
  • 6 cups plus 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seed (see headnote)
  • 15 fresh curry leaves (see headnote)
  • 3 medium Thai green chili peppers, chopped (see headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Combine the kashmiri chili powder, ginger, garlic and water in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the egg, salt and cornstarch; puree again until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add 4 cups of cauliflower florets to the batter in the bowl, and toss until evenly coated. (Reserve any remaining florets for another use.) Let rest for 10 minutes so the batter permeates the florets.

Heat 6 cups of the oil in a wide, deep saucepan or wok over medium-high heat, to a temperature of 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set a wire cooling rack over it.

Working in batches to avoid crowding, fry the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, or until very crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower to the rack to drain. Allow the oil to return to 350 degrees between batches.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mustard seed; cook briefly, during which time they will crackle and pop, then stir in the curry leaves, Thai chilies, fried cauliflower and lemon juice. Toss to evenly coat the cauliflower.

Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Vikram Sunderam of Rasika and Rasika West End restaurants in the District.

Tested by Joe Yonan.

E-mail questions to the Food Section.

E-mail questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.