Genius Recipes

This Creamy, Cozy Indian Cauliflower Dish Is Peak Comfort Food

But you might make the Genius garnish even more often.

February 26, 2020

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.


This recipe has captivated the Food52 team, as we cooked it for photo shoots and video shoots (and all the other things we do here). I overheard murmurs of praise; I lost claim to leftovers after sneaks cleared the platters. “Divine,” our Genius video producer Alik Barsoumian wrote to me, after making it again for herself.

Which is all very fortunate because, if I’m being honest, I was initially in it for the garnish.

Get a load of that garnish! Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.

I can’t say a topping alone has ever before stopped me flipping through a cookbook and made me want to cook a recipe immediately, but there it was: blackened raisins. Not filler raisins balled up at the bottom of the GORP bag; not tiny, virtue-signalling red boxes from the trick-or-treat bucket where I’d certainly hoped for a Twix bar instead. No—blackened raisins, puffing and crackling and melting at the core. Singed, smoky, jammy, warm.

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Top Comment:
“I found it very easy make and while the cauliflower was roasting I had time to do everything else. I found the amounts/proportions of ingredients to be spot on. I will definitely be making again!”
— Andrea
Comment

Now having tasted them (a lot), I could see blackened raisins improving everything from salads to oatmeal to ice cream sundaes to roast chicken to trail mix by the fistful. At least one prescient brewery has used them to flavor their beer.

There are other ingredients, too!

I’d spotted the recipe in Meera Sodha’s beautiful second cookbook Fresh India, all vegetarian, quick-cooking dishes from her modern Indian canon. (In fact, to give you a sense of how accessible its recipes are to cooks of any interest level, it was the sole cookbook I found in a lovely Airbnb kitchen that otherwise held mostly disposable party supplies.)

Once I looked past my new crush, the blackened raisin, it was easy to see just how smart the rest of the recipe was. “This is a really great dish to make when people come round, as it’s a crowd-pleaser and easy to cook,” Sodha writes in the recipe’s headnote. “Normally the sauce comes together at the same time as the roasted cauliflower, leaving you with more time to tell your best jokes or play the spoons to your guests.”

It's just a little crush.

I love when recipes multitask like this: cauliflower sweetening on its own in the oven while onions relax and spices bloom in the pan. And because—just like so many other korma recipes in Indian cooking—the cozy, creamy sauce is made from yogurt and ground almonds, it’s an ideal plant-based main dish (complete protein and everything!), and one light enough not to put those guests to sleep before your best jokes roll out.

So make Sodha’s cauliflower korma tonight; make it often. And—just as you toast raw nuts and stale bread to jolt them to life—every time you spy a raisin, I hope you’ll consider blackening it.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]—thank you to my fun-loving Airbnb host for this one!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda
    Linda
  • adinabaker
    adinabaker
  • Andrea
    Andrea
  • Cindy Young
    Cindy Young
  • Maria
    Maria
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I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."

39 Comments

Linda March 5, 2020
About raisins...not a fan and usually sub finely chopped dried apricot.
BUT then, I tasted espresso soaked raisins at the Purple House in North Yarmouth, Maine. Owned and run by 2020 Beard nominee Kristin Desjarlais, no less.

God, they are good. I don't know how she makes hers, but I do it with equal parts of hot very strong coffee and raisins that have been placed in a small glass container. They're good to go after a few hours, they last forever and I will be blacking some tonight for this dish.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Yum! Bitter + sweet does a lot for raisins.
 
adinabaker March 1, 2020
It was good and comforting, but a bit too rich. I don’t like raisins, so I topped with toasted pine nuts, which was nice and gave it some needed texture/crunch. It’s one of those dishes where the first couple of bites taste amazing, then you start to feel a bit sick because of the richness. So I think it would make a nice side dish, but is a bit too rich and one-note for a main dish.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Thanks for sharing your experience. The bitter and smoky qualities of the raisins do cut the richness a bit, or you could consider using 2% yogurt, if you used full-fat, for example.
 
Andrea March 1, 2020
Watched the video for this dish and was so intrigued, I made it for dinner the same night! Loved it and so did my husband! I made it with 3 substitutions - unsweetened coconut yogurt instead of regular yogurt, almond milk instead of milk, and almond flour instead of ground almonds and it turned out great! I found it very easy make and while the cauliflower was roasting I had time to do everything else. I found the amounts/proportions of ingredients to be spot on. I will definitely be making again!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Thank you for sharing!
 
Cindy Y. February 29, 2020
This recipe sounded so good to me, especially with the garnish! Decided to make it last night for dinner. I'm not understanding the review that complained this dish took almost 3 hours to make. I am not a professional cook, nor did I have a sous chef and I had dinner on the table in a little over the time it took for the cauliflower to roast. Both hubby and I enjoyed the korma flavors and heat (I added a tad more cayenne) and the crunchy sweetness of the garnish. Will make it again, but probably cut back a little on the onion.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Thank you, Cindy!
 
Maria February 29, 2020
Any substitute for the almond, we are allergic, how would it affect the overall dish if the almonds were left out?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
The sauce wouldn't be as thick, but you could reduce it down a bit longer (don't boil or it might break!) or simply add less milk.
 
April February 29, 2020
We ate this because of the time and money that went in to making it but I will not make it again. My husband ate it with the attitude that there are starving people that would be thankful for it. I’m not sure they would be. I ate it because I worked all day and was to tired to make anything else.
Really, really not good. In fact I would give it a double yuck.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
I'm sorry to hear it, April—can you describe what you didn't like about it?
 
Barbara February 28, 2020
It was okay, but not worth the almost three hours of time it took to make and clean up.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
I'm sorry to hear it, Barbara.
 
Terry February 27, 2020
Just wondering if almond flour can be used for the ground almonds?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Yes, that's what we used!
 
Crystal P. February 27, 2020
Do you have any recommendations as to how one could make this dairy free? I was thinking almond milk or oatmilk as a milk replacement, but was unsure about any recommendations you would have for cooking with coconut milk or cashew based yogurts. I can always use plain coconut milk, but that would miss out on the tang of a yogurt. Do alternative yogurts hold up to cooking as well?
 
Maria February 27, 2020
Hi, Crystal, yes! for sure you can make this plant - based! To me, commercial almond milk is a little thin tasting, so I don't use it. I think oat milk would work great. It's creamy and rich tasting. The company, Forager, makes a delicious, tangy and rich cashew yogurt, that I use for recipes all the time. They make a plain variety that is great for recipes. My partner, who eats vegan with me at home, but will, on occasion eat animal products outside of our home, loves anything I make with that. It is good in cold recipes, like dressings, and warm ones like soup or cream sauces, etc. I have used it also in naan and other baked goods that call for yogurt, and it's perfect. Enjoy!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Yes, Andrea above used unsweetened coconut yogurt instead of regular yogurt and almond milk instead of milk!
 
Maria February 26, 2020
Milk and yogurt aren’t plant based. They are brought to your table by animal agriculture, specifically the exploitation of mother cows.
 
BeyondBrynMawr February 28, 2020
She didn't say that milk and yogurt are plant based (nor did she say that the dish is vegan) - she said that the dish is plant based. And it is - it's based on a plant (cauliflower).
 
Jude S. February 26, 2020
In your demo, are you cooking on an induction cooktop?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
It's actually electric, but we have both in the Food52 kitchens.
 
NS February 26, 2020
It looks like this recipe has been made more approachable. In India a korma like this would have almond paste, not ground almonds. You'd soak blanched whole almonds and then blend them into a paste. Once your onions are well caramelized, ginger, garlic and spices bloomed, then you'd add almond paste and then lastly yogurt. The resulting sauce is thick, smooth and rich. I don't know about light - a korma is a pretty rich dish.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Thank you for sharing!
 
Nancy H. February 26, 2020
What is the flat bread that you served with the cauliflower? Looks like naan, but the color makes it look like it has spices in it. Is there a recipe available?
 
Gina B. February 26, 2020
Looks like puppodums to me!
 
Gina B. February 26, 2020
Looks like it might be paratha?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Meera recommends serving with chapatis, so I believe that's what our test kitchen sourced for the photo (at Kalustyan's, one of our favorite stores in NYC).
 
Geoffrey W. February 26, 2020
That looks so good! Have you tried it with any other vegetables? I like cauliflower and it seems like it would also work with broccoli or eggplant or butternut squash. I think i will investigate.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Yes! Julia G. on the recipe page said she regularly makes it with butternut mixed in.
 
Jody February 26, 2020
We make pizza with Italian sausage, sliced fennel and golden raisins. The raisins char and blister and add a touch of sweetness. Delicious!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. March 5, 2020
Yum!
 
David R. February 26, 2020
Any thoughts on how one might try to make this without an oven? I really, really want to make/eat this, but no oven!
 
Eric K. February 26, 2020
You could sauté the cauliflower in a pan first! The oven is really just to cook the veg.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. February 26, 2020
Hi David, I'm thinking you could just pan-roast the cauliflower—just make sure to use your biggest skillet or two, and/or do it in batches so the cauliflower isn't piled up, which would get in the way of browning. Check out this recipe for inspiration: https://food52.com/recipes/24372-cavolfiore-palma-a-la-leah-pan-roasted-cauliflower
 
NS February 26, 2020
In India when we make a korma, cauliflower florets would be fried not baked. Not quite deep fried, but just pan fried in batches in a generous amount of oil. Typically you'd be left with just enough oil to proceed with making the sauce in the same pan/pot. You'd be looking for some golden color on the cauliflower and tender texture but not mushy.
 
David R. February 26, 2020
Thank you! That’s very helpful. I’ll give it a try!
 
David R. February 26, 2020
Thank you!