How to make the most of seasonal winter veg: cauliflower with coconut cream and chilli, braised greens in yoghurt, or branch out with a Yemeni hawaij root vegetable stew
It’s almost the home stretch for the cold winter months. Spring isn’t around the corner quite yet, so I get my boost of much-needed stimulation by visiting the greengrocer and filling my basket with deep shades of leafy greens and a rainbow assortment of root vegetables. Together with a generous dash of spice and small pinch of patience, I turn these into winter warmers that also teem with wonderful, fresh flavours.
Cauliflower with poppy seeds, coconut cream and chilli (pictured above)
The dish came about after reading about aloo posto, a Bengali dish of potatoes cooked in a white poppy seed paste. This is, admittedly, very different – I use regular, black poppy here, which is more readily available – but I love the idea of mixing vegetables with poppy seeds and spices. To turn this into a main course for two, serve with flatbreads and regular or dairy-free yoghurt.
Prep 20 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4 as a side
40g poppy seeds, soaked in 2 tbsp boiling water for 30 minutes
60ml sunflower oil
¾ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp paprika
¾ tsp cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large cauliflower, broken up into 4cm florets, along with any tender leaves
60g coconut cream
5g coriander, roughly chopped
15g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
2 limes – juice one to get 1 tbsp and cut the other into wedges to serve
Pour the soaked poppy seed mixture into a mortar and crush for a minute to break up some of the seeds.
Pour the oil into a large saute pan for which you have a lid, and put on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the spices, garlic and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, and fry for three to four minutes, stirring often, until the garlic starts to brown and the spices are aromatic. Add the cauliflower and any leaves, and cook, stirring continuously, for two minutes, until the cauliflower is coated in the spices. Stir in the coconut cream and poppy seeds, turn down the heat to medium, cover the pan and cook for four minutes, until the cauliflower is starting to soften.
Take off the lid, increase the heat to medium-high and cook for seven to eight minutes more, stirring a few times, until the liquid has evaporated and the cauliflower is caramelised. Off the heat, stir in the coriander, almonds and lime juice, and serve with the lime wedges.