Sometimes a single ingredient, a garnish, can turn a dish from meh to Wow.
In the case of this cauliflower chickpea curry, that ingredient is cilantro. I’ve been meaning to experiment with a curry using cauliflower and chickpeas for months.
When we finally got around to it, the result was okay, but nothing special. Frustrated, I tossed a handful of chopped cilantro into what we had made—a braise of cauliflower, chickpeas, onions, curry, and tomatoes.
The ingredients that minutes before had failed to inspire were now dazzling. It’s as if the cilantro had woken everyone up and pulled them onto the dance floor.
What’s happening? I’m guessing one reason is that the cilantro is playing the role of a bitter, like parsley, kale, or green onion greens.
The bitter greens fire up the bitter sensors in our mouths and the flavor of everything brightens. In any case, with the cilantro, this curry is fast, easy, and delightful. (Great with Basmati Rice with Peas and Mint.)
Cauliflower Chickpea Curry Recipe
For those of you who simply cannot tolerate cilantro, I would recommend slicing some arugula and adding that to the curry as it cooks, or toss with fresh chives or thinly sliced onion greens. It won't be the same, but the greens will help brighten the dish.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons of yellow curry powder
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and then sliced across the grain (about 1 1/2 cups sliced onion)
- 1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated (1 teaspoon grated)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (a 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
- 1 head cauliflower, cored, florets separated (see How to Cut and Core Cauliflower)
- 1 15-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup (packed) roughly chopped cilantro (leaves and young stems)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves
1 Sauté curry powder and onion: Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pot (with lid) on medium heat. Add the curry powder to the oil and let cook for a minute until fragrant.
Add the sliced onion, toss with the curried oil. Let cook until softened about 6 to 8 minutes.
2 Add ginger, chickpeas, tomatoes, cauliflower, bay leaf, salt, pepper, water: Once the onions have softened, add the ginger and the chickpeas, toss to coat with everything.
Add the tomatoes, shredding the whole tomatoes with your fingers as you add them to the pot. Include any tomato juice from the can.
Add the cauliflower florets, the salt, pepper, bay leaf, and water.
3 Simmer until cauliflower is cooked through: Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cover. Cook 15 to 18 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through and tender.
4 Toss with cilantro and mint to serve: Remove from heat. Toss with fresh chopped cilantro and minced mint.
Serve with rice or rice pilaf. If you want dollop a little sour cream or plain yogurt over it (non-vegan option).
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