I use the word butter chicken very loosely here. My aim is to provide a vegetarian/vegan butter chicken cauliflower that comes together quickly any night of the week but is also fancy enough for enetertaining. This cashew-cardamom based gravy with roasted cauliflower is mildly sweet and sublime and beautifully mimics the flavours of its predecessor.
A few years ago I met someone at a farmers market selling jars of vegan curry pastes and gravies. I was curious enough to buy a jar of vegan butter chicken gravy, I thought the idea was rather genius. We loved it so much, I set out to make my own version of it, broadly basing it on the several 'original' butter chicken recipes that I combed the Internet for. Based on the feedback I got for my original butter chicken cauliflower recipe, I tweaked it further and this updated version is pretty spectacular (if I can say so myself).
In my house, we love cauliflower and do not need any excuse to eat it. My now six-year old will always say it is her most favourite vegetable. She shows so much enthusiasm that we love finding inventive ways to cook it for her. We always double up on the roasted cauliflower because she eats half of it even before it goes into the gravy.
This recipe is easy and comes together in less than an hour. Both the cauliflower and the gravy can roast and cook simultaneously. I do recommend you blend the sauce it gives it a velvety, buttery consistency reminiscent of a restaurant style butter chicken dish. You can also omit the cream and make it vegan butter chicken cauliflower and the recipe would work just fine. This would be perfect with rice roti or on a thali
- 1 large Cauliflower washed and chopped in large florets (about 800g)
- 3 - 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon jeera/ cumin power
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Lal Mirch / paprika
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
Butter Chicken Gravy
- ¼ cup cashews soaked in warm water (about 40 grams)
- 2-3 medjool dates soaked in warm water
- 1 table spoon olive oil
- 4 - 6 green cardamom pods crushed using mortar pestle
- ½ teaspoon peppercorns
- 2 cloves
- ½ inch piece of cinnamon
- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 5 - 6 Roma tomatoes washed and chopped about 500g
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Lal Mirch / paprika
- ¼ cup cream (optional, skip if vegan)
- 1 teaspoon crushed kasoori methi/ dried fenugreek leaves
- fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
in a large bowl toss the cauliflower with olive oil, cumin, turmeric, Kashmiri Lal mirch, smoked paprika (if using), and salt. Ensure the cauliflower is well coated.
Arrange it on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes
While the cauliflower is baking prepare the butter chicken gravy.
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil to medium heat
Add the crushed cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, and sauté till everything is fragrant about 30 seconds. Next, add ginger, and garlic stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt to the aromatics and cook till it is thick and glossy about 6-7 minutes.
Take the tomato mixture off the heat and add it to a blender. drain and add both the soaked cashew and dates to the blender. Blend adding about ½ cup of water to form a thick sauce.
Return the tomato sauce to the dutch oven, add Kashmiri Lal mirch/paprika and let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add about a cup of water and let it continue to simmer for a couple of more minutes.
When the cauliflower is ready (and if you haven’t eaten most of it already) add it to the gravy and simmer for 5 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Let it cool slightly and then garnish with cilantro leaves and lime juice.
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