When I was younger, my mother had a friend named Shukla. She was a beautiful, funny, brilliant woman from India, who was a fabulous cook as well. We’d occasionally go to her house for amazing homecooked meals, and it was always such a treat. I remember watching her season dishes from little dishes of spices and being amazed at how instinctively she could add a pinch of this and a sprinkling of that and create something magical.
She would whip up fabulous meals of Palek Paneer, Aloo Gobi and homemade Naan, as if it was nothing. And she’d do it all while making it look so easy. Because of Shukla, I learned early to love the wonderful, warm and sometimes spicy flavors of India. And I learned to appreciate how developing your skill in the kitchen can make cooking a joy.
This Indian-inspired dish has those lovely warm flavors of Indian cuisine, without the spiciness of some dishes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore heat in cooking. But some dishes don’t need that spice to be wonderful.
This Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas over Rice is seasoned simply with garam masala. I love garam masala, which is a traditional spice blend that includes coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and other spices. Discovering it for my own cooking was a tremendous revelation, especially since it’s so easy to sprinkle into dishes. And, since this isn’t spicy, it makes a fabulous introduction to Indian cuisine for younger eaters — like mine, who aren’t that fond of spiciness.
And what’s most amazing about this? It’s so freakin’ easy. Like ridiculously easy. You toss all the ingredients together, roast it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes and then serve it on rice. You can make this in under a half-hour — does it get any better?
What’s your favorite Indian dish?
Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas over Rice
1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1″ florets
1 can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes with peppers and onions, drained
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt, to taste
4 cups cooked white rice
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, chickpeas, garlic, tomatoes, garam masal and olive oil. Stir and toss it all together well, making sure that you really coat all the veggies with the oil, residual tomato juices and garam masala.
Pour the cauliflower mixture onto the baking sheet, spread it out into one single layer.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and lightly golden brown. Stir it once, about half-way through.
Remove the tray from the oven and taste it. Season it, as desired, with sea salt (it might not need any — I don’t always salt it, since it’s naturally so flavorful).
Serve over rice.