Butter chicken cauliflower without the chicken

If you’re a marketing or public relations student and you’re after a masterclass, I don’t think you can look further than cauliflower as a rebranding exercise.

No longer is it a slightly boring (and slightly smelly) side dish, it’s now the main event all on its own – and not just as cheesy cauliflower (which I looooove). The humble cauli has been completely reinvented and is now found in everything from pizza crusts to rice substitutes and even, apparently, makes a mighty fine “steak”. Truly, they’ve done it a couple of times on Masterchef this season.  

Anyways, all of this leads me to this recipe – Butter Chicken Cauliflower Without The Chicken. It’s another dish in my quest to try new meat-free recipes.

The recipe is actually titled Indian Coconut Butter Cauliflower – but I like my title more – and comes from my new favourite foodie site (although the number of ads on it makes my MacBook run super slow and I can literally hear the power chugging away) Half Baked Harvest. Responsiveness issues aside check it out – the recipes are fabulous and her food photography is next level.

The recipe as it stands in this link is already great, but I’ve made a few changes for our taste (yes, we like it spicy) and ease ie converting ounces to something we recognise; so I’m writing it up here (given that you can’t scribble notes on a computer screen) just so I don’t forget what I did – this recipe was that big a hit. We all loved it so much that Grant didn’t even say it would have been better with chicken.

The photo below is of the leftovers that I had for lunch the next day – that’s why it looks so messy. Every so often I wonder whether I will ever be one of those people who can cook during the day so that I get a good photo to post. I really want to be that person. Instead, I usually begin cooking half an hour before dinner and it’s dark. Heavy sighs.

What you need

  • 1 large cauliflower cut into florets. Okay, we scored a massive cauli at the markets (and by massive, I mean massive) and used half of it – with the other half going into a cauliflower soup. It was enough for the 3 of us for dinner and some leftovers for me for lunch.
  • 400g tin of coconut milk, full fat
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 400g tin crushed tomatoes or tomato passata
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil – you can use extra virgin olive oil if you want, but you don’t need it for the taste, so why bother. I used rice bran oil, but plain olive oil would be fine
  • Salt and pepper
  • A good handful of chopped coriander (if you’re on the anti-coriander bandwagon – you know who you are – leave it out)
  • Steamed rice (and naan, if you like) for serving

What you do with it

  • Into a large bowl put the cauliflower, 1/3 cup of the coconut milk, 2 cloves minced garlic, about a tablespoon of the grated ginger, and a pinch of salt. Toss it all together – your hands are best for this – and let it marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  • While the cauli is doing its thing in the bowl, preheat your oven grill to high and grease a baking sheet with oil.
  • Tip the cauliflower onto the baking sheet in an even layer and pop into the oven and grill until the cauliflower is beginning to char on the edges. Keep an eye on it, but it should take around 4minutes. This is actually really quite clever as it means you still have some firmness in the cauliflower rather than having it overcooked and, well, soggy.
  • Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ginger and garlic and cook for another 5 before stirring in the spices and cooking for a further minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and the rest of the coconut milk, stir it all about, bring it to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir through the coconut oil. If you need to, you can add an extra ½ cup of coconut milk or water to thin it down.
  • Add the cauliflower (and any pan juices) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the coriander and serve.

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

13 thoughts

  1. This looks absolutely yummy and I’m def going to try it! Always looking for recommended vegetarian recipes to ring the changes.

    1. Yeah, we’re trying a few new ones out for the same reason. Change is as good as a holiday & all that…well, not really…

  2. Looks great Jo, and agreed re marketing. At my local grocers cauliflowers are under a quid. In Marks and Spencer I’ve seen a shrink wrapped “roasting cauliflower” that looked just the same for a fiver 🙃

  3. Yum. I’ll admit, I have ordered a cauliflower steak at a restaurant. At home, I usually roast it in my oven with olive oil. I might need to give this recipe a try. – Kristin

    1. It’s funny, but one of the reasons I rewrote it was because we don’t use ounces or broilers here but rather grams and grills. Also, I think your tomato paste is similar to our crushed tomatoes…a lot of it is in the translation. Check out the link to the original recipe – I added extra spice, but you might not need to…it’s all a matter of taste.

  4. Hi, Jo – On your invitation, I made this dish as written last week. It was a huge hit with both my husband and my son. For anyone remotely interested, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. Easy to make and super yummy!

    1. It’s certainly one of our faves now. There are a few other dishes on her site I want to try too.

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