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Author Notes: while noodling around the kitchen, ms. vaughn sobbing like a beautiful songbird all around, i realized that i might be getting a tad boring in my eating life. nary a chili to be found, and there were actually cobwebs draped like dingy streamers over the spice drawer.
when i dashed off to the market, i got a few things and made a sort of indian-flavored sambal. —fo
Serves 4, as a side, 2 hungry people as a light lunch with baguette and a glass of wine
for the indianish sambal
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 cup coriander leaves and stems
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4" nugget of fresh ginger
- 1 good-sized clove of garlic
- 1 coin fresh turmeric, about the diameter and thickness of a nickel
- 3 mouse dropping chilis (birdseye chilis)
- 2 large, fresh tamarind pods, or 1 TB pure tamarind paste
- 2 heaping TB toasted, unsalted pistachio nuts
- 4 TB pistachio nut oil
- 4 TB extra virgin olive oil with a mild flavor
- 2 TB fresh lemon or lime juice
for the roasted cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower
- olive oil
- sea salt
- special equipment: sheet tray mortar and pestle with a large bowl
- preheat the ov to 350 degrees.
- slice the cauli or break it up into smallish florets. in a bowl, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. spread the cauli over a sheetpan, pop it in the oven and roast till golden, checking periodically and turning the florets with tongs if they are browning on the bottom faster than the top.
- onto the sambal. toast the cumin seeds till they begin to brown and smell quite fragrant. pop them into the mortar and grind into a powder, then add the ground cardamom.
- slice the skins off of both the ginger and the turmeric. slice the ginger into 1/8" thick coins
- pop them into the mortar and grind to a paste. add the garlic and do the same, and finally the chili, again, grinding well to ensure that the paste is quite smooth.
- add the pistachio nuts and pulverize
- begin adding the coriander bits at at time, and pulverize to a fine paste. be sure that you pound this well so that the fibrous stems are completely broken down. add a pinch of salt to facilitate this. but just a pinch. it's very easy to overestimate the amount of salt that you need. you just need a bit for friction.
- when all the coriander is pulverized, begin adding and pulverizing the mint leaves in the same way. stopping when it's completely broken down into a fine paste.
- break open your tamarind, gingerly, if you're too rough, the tough skins will cling to the fruit and make for a huge headache.
- squeeze the seeds from the tamarind pulp, and peel away the fibrous part that you see photographed above. collect 1 TB of smooth, sticky pulp from the pods, making sure that it is free from seeds and fiber. you can also use a jar of tamarind paste. just be sure that it is 100% pure tamarind, and not a bottle of 'tamarind sauce', which has other ingredients added to it. add the tamarind to the mortar and smoosh into the mixture.
- squeeze 2 TB fresh lemon or lime juice into the bowl. blend. now stir in the oils. (you may need to add a tiny splash more of either of the oils so that the sambal is not 'dry', use your best judgment).
- when the cauliflower is fully roasted, remove from the oven. i like to eat my cauliflower at room temp, but it's great if you eat it hot too.
- plate up the cauli, and spoon some of the sambal over the top.
- yay! new flavors!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Most Impressive Dinner Party Side
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