curry · Veg meals

Cauliflower and Chickpea curry with fragrant rice


This is a brilliant slow-cooking afternoon dish and a great meal to feed friends. It’s always gone down well whenever I have served it, and as usual with my recipes, is very flexible.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Indian cooking, it’s to not be too cautious with spices or wary of big flavours because that’s really what makes it. There area lot of spices in this, but it works well. If I’d had star anise and mustard seeds to hand, I’d have used them as well.

As a bonus, your kitchen is going to smell so good after you’ve cooked this.

Ingredients | Serves around 6 | 1hr

  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large onions
  • thumb of ginger
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 heaped tsp of garam masala
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 chillies (or dried chilli power is fine)
  • 2 tsp curry paste (optional – but I used balti)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 head of a large cauliflower, chopped into smallish florettes
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas (I used brown but any are fine)
  • 1 large handful of spinach
  • 1 bunch of chopped coriander
  • 3 tbsp oil

For the rice

  • 1 lime (juice & peel)
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • Remaining chopped coriander
  • 1 mug of basmati rice


  • Finely slice the onions so they look like rainbows, finely dice, mince or grate the garlic and ginger, and chop chilies.
  • In a large, deep pan, heat the oil, then add the onions. After a few minutes, add the garlic, ginger, chilies and cumin seeds and fry on a medium-high heat for around 5-10 minutes, until the onions start to brown and go soft.
  • Add the cauliflower and stir, and let it fry and brown on the edges for a few minutes. Add the rest of the spices, stir well and let them toast for another couple of minutes, being careful not to let them burn.
  • Add the 2 cans of chopped tomatoes and bay leaf and stir well.
  • Once this has been brought to the boil, I add around 1/4 – 1/2 of a pint of water. Add a bit, and if you want the sauce thinner, then you can always add more.
  • Part-cover with a lid and turn the heat down, then let the curry simmer for around 30 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  • Towards the end of the 30 minutes, bring a large pan of salted water to boil and add the rice and fennel seeds. Cook to instructions on the rice packet.
  • Grate the zest of the lime, and roughly chop the coriander.
  • Add the can of chickpeas to the curry – it’s almost done! Let it carry on simmering until the rice is cooked, then add the spinach right at the end – it only needs a couple of minutes.
  • Drain the rice and put back in the pan it came from. Add to the rice the zest and all of the juice of the lime, and half of the coriander.
  • Finally, add the remaining coriander to the curry – you can stir in or use as a garnish.

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