Home, sweet home…! As always, coming home from Madeira is a two sided coin. On one side, it’s good to be back “home” as opposed to a hotel. On the other side… right about now it does not quite feel like “home” yet as in “home is where the heart is”. Again, it seems, we lost another little piece of ours somewhere on the island… Aha! But both Hubby and I are positive persons, those pieces are just reasons to go back and try to retrieve them~ “We will be back” and until then I can enjoy the perks of having access to my own kitchen again!
Of course, having just flown out of a comfy, sunny, Atlantic-breezy 30°C Funchal into 5°C gray and icky Frankfurt and a bit further down south into a wall of rain and wind juuuust waiting to lighten up the mood in the car, made me feel like that steak that has been slapped onto a stone cold plate right out of the pan. With literally every piece of me down to my toes (also very close to rebellion at being shoved into sneakers after almost 6 months of freedom) scrunching and bunching up in frosty shock, all I could think of once the need for a Monday-dinner plan made itself clear, was a “warm and fuzzy” dish, a curry to be precise. Going with a Meatfree Monday appropriate vegetarian one also seemed like a good idea, especially after all that meat and seafood we had during our time away, so I picked a yellow curry the Chef’s Guild inspired me to cook up a couple of years ago. (Another perk of being back home – a PC, a stable internet connection and a good old gaming binge… wee~!) Anyways, the curry…
Back when I first discovered this recipe all those years ago, cauliflower was a thing that, in a soupy context, was deeply rooted into the silky smooth “Cream Soup” side of things. However, while I was skimming over the ingredients of that one, I couldn’t help but think along the lines of Indian curries and question the Velouté-style picture of soup that my grandma’s kitchen had mentally chained to the concept of “Cauliflower Soup”. Chunks of the delicious fleurets, spice and bold flavors… Perfect! Of course, the simple fact that the Guild’s menu actually says “Chilli” had other delicious consequences after my initial flash of let’s-twist-this-towards-India inspiration, but that’s another bowl-ful for another dinner~! Anyways, once more the Chef’s Guild of Tyria has pushed me in the right direction back then, and I’ve been making this on a regular basis whenever the need for a serious heart- soul- and body-warming hug in a bowl arises.
So, here we go. Comfort food at its best! These amounts will net you 2-3 large servings.
The Yellow Curry Spice Blend
I never really understood the “Curry” spice powders you can find everywhere, mostly because, until I started cooking myself, I was familiar with yellow Thai curries and a couple of Indian yellow-colored curries – neither of which… well, tasted anything like the generic “Curry”Powder-with-no-further-specifications-in-regards-to-origin-or-usage. You know, the stuff that was once a staple on pineapple and ham “Hawaii” melts…? <insert shudder here> I’m so glad I was too young to really get close and personal with those since they were on their way out of the culinary world then and only available where kids had the chance to burn their pocket-money when the parents weren’t watching… So all I remember, apart from a bland pile of yellow grains on top of something equally as bland and simultaneously squeaky and squishy, is that my 5 year old self thought the ketchup also coating those culinary monstrosities was the best use anyone had ever put tomatoes to. Boy, did that change… I basically live off tomatoes during the summer by now, and wouldn’t touch ketchup with a ten-foot pole! Anyways, once I realized that the repelling powder could be turned into something quite delicious after having connected the almost invisible dots to Indian cuisine as an adult, I started experimenting around with one of those blends because a) back then, shops or stores carrying quality Indian spices were extremely rare and expensive and b) Indian restaurants were even rarer and even more expensive, way out of a regular students league. Of course over the years Indian food and the appropriate shops have become more popular, but the overall quality of the insipid supermarket-rack “Curry” blend never really improved, so I gave up on that shortcut and settled on having my personal, tweaked and improved curry blend stashed away (and regularly used/refilled) in my spice rack.
As usual with my Spice Blends, I list the Ingredients in “Parts” rather than spoons or weights, but just for the record: in this case I translate 1 part to 1 Tbsp simply because the end result fits into my little spice storage tin designated for this blend. A special tin only for this one, never again to be used for anything else because of the turmeric – which has the astonishing power of permanently dying a stainless steel, aroma-proof spice tin a bright and fragrant yellow. Grrr.
4 Hot Madras Curry Blend – I tried around a bit and settled on an Indian brand the shopkeep of a tiny Indian spice and grocery shop recommended. Asking for advice pays off~!
1 Ground Cumin
1 Ground Ginger
1 Ground Coriander
½ Dried Chilli Flakes
5 Crushed Cardamom Pods – grind them up with a pinch of coarse sea salt and pick out the dry husks
Since it’s a true dry spice blend you don’t need to do anything other than carefully stir the spices into each other until they’re well combined. And breathe shallowly while you’re stirring…
The Cauliflower & Zucchini Curry
1 Tsp Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Large Red Onion or 2 Shallots, roughly chopped
2 Heaped Tbsp of the Yellow Curry Spice Blend V.2.0
1 Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
1 heaped Tsp grated fresh Ginger
½ Tsp Amchur or Sumach
400ml Low Fat Coconut Milk
400-500g/1 Head of Cauliflower, fleurets snipped off and thoroughly cleaned – frozen cauliflower works too but make sure to thaw it a couple of hours early and allow it to drip off the excess water it will undoubtedly carry along until you need it for the curry to keep it from watering down the whole deal
400g Zucchini, sliced into 3-4mm thin half-moons
Alt: Chard/Mangold or Baby Spinach
Salt to taste
½-l Lime, Juice to taste
Opt: Fingerling Potatoes or Chickpeas for more body or fresh Naan bread to the side
Opt: 1 Tbsp Toasted Dessicated Coconut Flakes on top to boost the coconut aroma-clouds poofing up to you while you dig in~
1) Add the oil to a large pot set onto medium heat and give it about 3 mins to heat up.
2) Pop in the onion cubes and sauté them for about 5-7 mins until they soften up and turn translucent.
3) Meanwhile, cook the cauliflower fleurets in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 mins until they’re tender but still have a bit of bite to them. Tip them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. In case you feel like adding a couple of potatoes to the mix, take care of those at this point as well.
4) Sprinkle the onions with the spice blend, add the amchur and the whole spices, and gently stir the lot for 1-2 mins to release the essential oils trapped inside the dried spices.
5) Once the delicious aromas of the spices are wafting up to you, add the garlic and ginger and allow the mixture to cook for another minute or two.
6) Pour in the coconut milk along with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer. Remove the whole spices.
7) Fold the cauliflower, zucchinis and the optional spinach or chickpeas into the curry sauce, close the lid and leave the lot to simmer away for a couple of minutes until a bite of zucchini tells you it’s time to plate up.
8) After another good stir, have a taste of the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
9) Ladle the curry into large, warmed bowls, hold one under your nose, take a deep breath, relax, lean back and…