Ghee-Baked Cauliflower (Gobi Musallam) 2.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post

Feb 6, 2019

In this north Indian dish, the cauliflower receives layers of flavor, via pastes, steam and the heat of a high-temperature oven -- and it doesn't take that long to do.

To read the accompanying story, see: Ghee has been an Indian staple for millennia. Now the rest of the world is catching on.

Make Ahead: The two pastes can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.

Where to Buy: Kashmiri chili powder is bright-tasting and orange-red; look for it at Indian markets.


Servings:
2 - 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: 2-4 servings

Ingredients
  • For the cauliflower
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, leaves removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 small green chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired and coarsely chopped
  • One 4- or 5-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, chopped (3 to 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, preferably Kashmiri
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (spice blend)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • For the masala
  • One 4- or 5-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, chopped (3 to 4 tablespoons)
  • 4 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 3 tablespoons whole almonds
  • One 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade ghee, at room temperature (see NOTE)
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

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Directions

For the cauliflower: Rinse the cauliflower and pat it dry. Fill a pot with a few inches of water, then place a steamer basket/insert inside it, making sure the level of water stays below the steamer.

Combine the garlic, chiles, ginger, chili powder and garam masala in a mini food processor, or use a mortar and pestle to create a coarse spice paste. Add the salt and lemon juice, pulsing or stirring to incorporate.

Rub this spice paste all over the cauliflower, getting some of it between the florets. Place the coated cauliflower in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 3 minutes, or until the vegetable is just tender enough to be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the heat.

For the masala: Combine the ginger, coriander seed, cloves, black peppercorns, cumin, cardamom, almonds, cinnamon and coconut in a dedicated spice grinder or mini food processor; grind to create a coarse masala paste.

Heat half the ghee in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion; cook for about 8 minutes, until they have softened, then stir in the masala paste, salt and then the yogurt, adding it 1 tablespoon at a time and stirring thoroughly to incorporate.

Stir in the tomatoes; cook for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they break down. This is your masala, which will lose a bit of moisture by the time it's done; that's okay. Remove from the heat and transfer the paste to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Coat the cauliflower with half the masala, all over, then place the cauliflower in the skillet. Dot the vegetable with the remaining softened ghee; roast (top rack) for 15 minutes, during which time the masala paste will darken and the cauliflower will be tender throughout.

Remove the skillet from the oven; spread the remaining masala over the cauliflower and then return it to the oven; roast for 5 minutes more.

Transfer to a platter, along with any masala paste in the pan. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve hot, with steamed rice/Indian bread.

NOTE: To make ghee, heat 1 pound of unsalted organic butter (made from the milk of grass-fed cows) in a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, without stirring. Be patient. Eventually the butter will begin to bubble a bit and make a slight crackling sound. After about 20 minutes or so, the crackling will stop and there will be a thin, broken layer of fat on top and heavier solids at the bottom of the pan. Watch the ghee very carefully to make sure that it doesn’t burn.

The liquefied butter should be a clear, golden color on top, with very few air bubbles on the surface. At this point the ghee is done; toss a handful of fresh curry leaves into the ghee, if desired. Turn off the heat after a couple of minutes and allow it to sit for an hour. Strain it carefully into a clean container. The sediment at the bottom of the pot can be discarded, but the white foam on top of the ghee is okay. It is ready to use or store at room temperature for up to 3 months, or refrigerate for up to 1 year.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Padmasree Vardaraj of Chennai, India.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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