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Recipe - cauliflower and chickpea curry

PUBLISHED: 10:25 26 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:25 26 January 2016

Cauliflower and chickpea curry

Cauliflower and chickpea curry


River Cottage Head Chef, Gill Meller, has a delicious vegetable curry that is full of spice and warmth to banish the winter blues

I thought I’d buck the trend this month, and put in a recipe I really love to prepare and eat, instead of something more typical ‘detox driven’ for a January food column.

‘Detox’ is a word one hears banded around in the run up to the turn of the year. People talk about how they plan to cut out this and eat more of that or stop drinking this and do a lot less of that. And that’s fair enough after the excess of December’s festivities.

I agree, January is a time for eating lighter, healthier foods, but that said, people can find this a little confusing when it comes knowing what to cook that ticks those healthy boxes. For me fresh vegetables, pulses and winter salads take precedence over red meats and rich cakes. But I don’t encourage complete monk-like abstinence. We can all still enjoy food with big flavours, full of spice, warmth and comforting textures which are certainly not unhealthy.

After all, it is January, in Dorset. The words cold and damp and generally greyish come to mind. That’s why I wanted to share this recipe for a really gorgeous and simple vegetable curry that uses bright firm cauliflower, nutty chickpeas and lots of fragrant coriander. It’s something you can knock up when you’re short on time, as it’s really quick to make.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

• 1 medium-large cauliflower (about 800g), trimmed

• 2 tablespoons sunflower oil

• 3 onions, chopped

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

• 2 teaspoons ground coriander

• 2 teaspoons ground cumin

• A large pinch of dried chilli flakes

• 2 star anise

• 400g tin plum tomatoes, chopped, any stalky ends and skin removed

• 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

• 2 teaspoons garam masala

• A good handful of coriander, chopped

• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Cut the cauliflower into medium florets. Put into a large pan, cover with cold water, add some salt and bring up to a rolling boil. This will part-cook the cauliflower. Take off the heat straight away, drain well and keep warm in the pan.

2 Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

3 Add the ground coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, star anise and some salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.

4 Add the tomatoes with their juice and the chickpeas. Stir well, then add the cooked cauliflower. Pour in enough cold water to almost but not quite cover everything (100–200ml) and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5–10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower is tender.

5 Stir in the garam masala and half the chopped coriander, then check the seasoning. Serve scattered with the remaining coriander and accompanied by rice, flatbreads or naans.

This recipe features in River Cottage Veg Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury, and available from


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