Stir-Fried Cauliflower and Potato with Crunchy Bengali Spices
This is one way that I make cauliflower when I’m cooking for intimate parties at home. I’ve combined spices that are commonly used in Bengali cooking (nigella and cumin seeds) and added cayenne and fresh ginger. The Bengali spices add a little zing to the warmer cayenne and ginger. The nigella adds crunch. Although this will go well with almost any combination of Indian foods, it’s particularly good with Sweet Green Peas and Fresh Indian Cheese in a Fragrant Tomato Sauce and raita, served with Chapatis or toasted pita bread.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseside dish
Dietary Considerationside dish
Taste and Texturecrisp, herby, savory, spiced
Type of Dishvegetable
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalaunji; optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Rounded ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
- A 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1½ pounds red boiling potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced lengthwise about ½ inch thick
- 1 small to medium head cauliflower, cored and cut into medium florets
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 fresh hot green chile, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Combine the oil, nigella, if using, cumin, and coriander seeds in a large wok, kadai, or frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cumin turns golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the potatoes and stir well to coat with the spices. Then cover and cook until the potatoes have browned some and have begun to soften and stick to the bottom of the pan, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir three or four times during this time and check the cooking. If the potatoes brown too quickly, turn the heat down. If they aren’t browning at all, raise the heat.
Add the cauliflower, ground cumin, cayenne, and fresh chile and stir to coat the cauliflower with the spices. Then cover and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan three or four times during cooking, until the potatoes are well browned, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, cover, and continue cooking until the cauliflower is nicely browned and the vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 more minutes. Stir the vegetables every 3 to 4 minutes and check the cooking; if they begin to stick badly and burn, add a teaspoon of water and scrape with a spatula to loosen the spices and crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve hot.
2004 Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness