This Kerala-Style Chicken and Cauliflower Stew looks and tastes like the perfect spring curry! I received a copy of The Café Spice Cookbook from the publishers for the purpose of an honest review. Affiliate links have been used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
Is it just me or is this spring in a bowl? All those shades of green! And because this is a stew, it is actually lighter than a heavy Indian curry meant to be served as a sauce. This got 4 enthusiastic thumbs up here at this house.
The Cafe Spice Cookbook: 84 Quick and Easy Indian Recipes for Everyday Meals by Hari Nayak is full of Indian and Indian-inspired meals like this one, relatively quick and easy. Some cookbooks I’ve received and loved and bookmarked front to back, but it takes me a while to make many of the recipes because they require planning (and that is not a criticism, because some cookbooks are all about those kinds of dishes). That is not the case with this book–not only do I have loads of recipes marked to try, but most of them I feel like I could decide to make on a whim (this is all assuming you have a decent Indian pantry of course, which I do). It is a small book, paperback and 84 recipes, but it is a gem worth owning for sure.
I did make some changes in this recipe. I subbed out potatoes for cauliflower–one of my favorite substitutions in Indian food, as much as I love potatoes, just to reduce the carb load. I increased the garam masala and the peas and decreased (removed completely) the heat (hot chile peppers). I did not add water the night I made the stew, but when I reheated the leftovers I did add water the next night because the dish had thickened.
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 T ghee
- 1 t dark mustard seeds
- 1 t black peppercorns
- 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
- 4 lightly crushed cardamom pods
- 1 bay leaf
- 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 2 med-large onions, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inch piece ginger, minced
- 1/4 t ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces and sprinkled with salt and pepper, I used thighs
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 t garam masala, divided
- 3 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water, optional
- 10 oz frozen peas
- basmati rice for serving
Heat the oil and ghee in a large Dutch oven with the mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Cover the pan--leaving the lid slight ajar--and listen for when the mustard seeds stop popping. Then add the bay leaf and curry leaves--stand back because they will pop!
Let the leaves fry for about 30 seconds, and then add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and mix in. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. You can add a few tablespoons of water if the onions start to stick or scorch.
When the onions are caramelized, add the ground turmeric and stir it in. Then add the chicken and stir it in. Do your best to brown it a bit, let it cook on about medium for around 5 minutes without turning. Then stir and add the cauliflower with a pinch of salt and stir it in. Stir in 1 teaspoon of garam masala.
Stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil--if the dish is too dry, add 1/2 cup of water also. Cover the pot and let the dish simmer gently, about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, the cauliflower is crisp-tender, and the flavors have melded.
Stir in the peas.
Stir in an additional teaspoon of garam masala and taste for salt.
Serve with basmati rice--but this is a stew, not a sauce, so the rice can be on the side or down in the stew.