roasted cauliflower with mint sambal

By • August 1, 2011 4 Comments

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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.

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
  1. special equipment: sheet tray mortar and pestle with a large bowl
  2. preheat the ov to 350 degrees.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. slice the skins off of both the ginger and the turmeric. slice the ginger into 1/8" thick coins
  6. 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.
  7. add the pistachio nuts and pulverize
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. break open your tamarind, gingerly, if you're too rough, the tough skins will cling to the fruit and make for a huge headache.
  11. 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.
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. plate up the cauli, and spoon some of the sambal over the top.
  15. yay! new flavors!

More Great Recipes: Side Dishes|Vegetables|Cauliflower

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Comments (4) Questions (0)


over 2 years ago Inko

I made this sambal to go with the Dan Barber genius cauliflower recipe. YUM. Now I want to make it to go with everything.


over 3 years ago aimeebama

Wow. My husband took one bite at supper last night and said 'this is a keeper' and rightly so. Although I made it with some modifications based on what I had on hand, I think the spirit was the same-- intriguing and delicious.


about 4 years ago fo

lorigoldsby, i really need to add more spice to my cooking. this turned out to be the perfect lunch. beware: its addictive. i put it on scrambled eggs, crostini, stirred it into curry...


about 4 years ago lorigoldsby

"saved" and saving my last bit of tamarind paste for this