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.