Whether you wanted to or not, yesterday, you all probably caught a glimpse of the Royal Wedding and that dress. It was on almost every single Sky channel imaginable and there’s no denying the amazing pageantry that was going on. For me, the real stars were those gorgeous fairytale horses pulling the carriage from Westminster Abbey to BuckinghamPalace – how cute were they?!
The past few blogging weeks have been spent exploring beautiful Mughlai cuisine for the main purpose of putting together a royal-inspired menu. Being entirely honest, after this recipe for Creamy Pistachio and Cauliflower Curry, there are one or two more important recipes I need to add before the menu is complete.
If there’s one thing the Mughals did beautifully, it was their impeccable sauces; and truthfully, the secret to a great curry is a great sauce. If you’re just as much into luscious sauces as I am, then this pistachio and almond dish is just for you. I’ve laced it with whole black peppercorns which soften in the simmered sauce and give the overall dish a very deep, gentle heat.
Adding blended nuts to a sauce is very traditional of North Indian and Central Asian cuisine. It was once symbolic of the wealth and social supremacy of the Mughal courts however, adding blended nuts to curries is now becoming increasingly popular in restaurants and in homes. Popular choices include cashews and almonds, with the use of pistachios being less common.
You know me – slightly odd and preoccupied with the need to make a break from the norm. The delicate flavour of sweet pistachios is in fact, a beautiful match for tender, textured cauliflower. It also stains the white cauliflower with the lightest hue of green imaginable.
Almond and Pistachio Cauliflower Curry
400g cauliflower, boiled until al dente50g pistachios, shelled
50g blanched almonds, skins removed
100g onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 small green chilli, minced
¼-½ tsp whole black peppercorns
1 inch stick cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp coriander seed powder
½ tsp fennel powder
2-3 tiny drops almond extract (please don’t overdo this one!)
¼ tsp garam masala
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sour cream
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt or to taste
3 tbsp oil
1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan and add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Place the onion mixture into a blender with the almonds, pistachios and 400ml water. Blend until very smooth and set aside.
2. Gently warm 1 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and star anise. Allow to sauté until aromatic. Add the almond and pistachio mixture and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Note: Do not add any salt at this time as it will cause the nut mixture to curdle slightly. Having said this, the sauce will have specks of nut still visible – you’re sauce hasn’t curdled and this is completely normal. It will improve with cooking.
3. Add another 400ml water and boil the sauce for 1 hour, on a very low heat, stirring often. Remember to stir more towards the end of the cooking time as this is when the sauce is more prone to sticking and burning (burnt nut sauce – my worst nightmare!) The sauce needs to be reduced by half.
4. Add in the white pepper powder, cardamom powder, garam masala, fennel powder, almond extract, salt, sugar, lemon juice and sour cream. Whisk vigorously. Add the cauliflower, bring to the boil again and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, garnish with chopped coriander, ground pistachios and slivered almonds.
If you want a dish that will be the talking point of a meal, this is the one. It’s unique, original and really delicious as part of a Mughlai menu.