Lasooni Gobi Ketjiap spice mix
Our batters almost never have eggs in them. In India, anything with eggs is not vegetarian and we try to keep as many options open as possible for guests who may be vegetarian. I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate. This is from the Junoon lunch menu.
1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
½ cup rice flour
½ cup cold water
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
¼ cup tomato purée
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Two pinches salt
Two pinches sugar
Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe follows)
2 sprigs cilantro for garnish
Evenly sprinkle 2 teaspoons sea salt over cauliflower and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
Pre-heat the oil to 350° F.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, ketjiap spice and mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.
Prepare the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl.
Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss the bowl gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.
Ketjiap spice mix
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon mace flakes
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
Lightly toast the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, about one minute. Let spices cool and then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a coffee or spice grinder. Keep tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months. A pinch or two of ketjiap spice livens up soups and sauces. It is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces they use to flavor their food which are loosely called cat-siop, ketjiap, catsup and ketchup.