This vegetarian main dish was adapted from a recipe found in the fifth volume of Canal House Cooking. Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, the creators of Canal House, learned this dish from Niloufer King, a talented Indian cook and scholar. To make it a heartier, protein-rich meal, we took the liberty of folding in some lightly seared tofu.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: About 1 hr 15 mins
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger (from about a 3-inch piece)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced to a paste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (see Game Plan note)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower (about 1 medium head), trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 (12-to 14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, large dice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large handful cilantro, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
- Steamed brown rice or steamed white rice, for serving (optional; see Game Plan note)
- Yogurt, for serving (optional)
- Naan or chapati, for serving (optional)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan with a tightfitting lid over medium heat until shimmering. Add the fennel seeds and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the frying pan with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, and a large pinch of salt and cook, dribbling in a little water, 1 to 2 tablespoons, as you stir. Add the chickpeas, cauliflower, and the remaining 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the flour in a large bowl. Place the tofu cubes on paper towels, pat dry, and season all over with salt and pepper. Toss the tofu in the flour until coated. Heat a second large frying pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tofu, tapping off any excess flour first, and brown on all sides, being careful of splattering oil, about 9 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with more salt.
- When the cauliflower is ready, gently fold in the tofu, cilantro, and lime juice. Serve immediately with rice, yogurt, naan, or chapati, if desired.