This post is dedicated in loving memory to Richard. Even though I’ve only known him for three years and I’ve had the pleasure to meet him ‘in real life’ only once for a wonderful weekend at his home, he was very dear to me and it is still hard to believe he is no longer with us. Richard has been a great inspiration for my cooking and this blog. Without him, I would not have liked cooking with chiles as much as I do now. But Richard was much more than the person who sent me a package full of chiles. We were in touch on a regular basis through our blogs as well as Facebook. He was generous, wise, funny, knowledgeable, helpful and kind. It was such a pleasure to cook together with him. We were in fact planning another weekend of cooking together next year, but alas that is not to be. I know that many others will miss him too, but of course my heart goes out especially to his beloved Baby Lady, who will now have to learn how to live without her Sweetieman. Elia, I am so so sorry for your loss. Life can be so cruel. We will always remember Richard, if only when we are eating chiles or talking of pouring shots…
Today’s recipe is the recipe that is the most popular on Richard’s blog. Of course it has chiles, but what is special about it is that the cauliflower is roasted slowly. This adds depth of flavor, or as Richard put it: “There is a sweetness from the slow roasting and caramelization of the cauliflower that you don’t get otherwise, the earthiness from the red chile, smokiness from the cumin and roasted chiles, tang and brightness from the lime and a floral element from the chopped cilantro at the end.” The effect is quite different from cauliflower roasted more quickly at a higher temperature.
The cooking time is a bit long because of the slow roasting, but otherwise this recipe is very straightforward. Here is my rendition.
For about 6 servings
1 large cauliflower
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp red New Mexico chile powder (substitute Ancho chile powder)
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime
cilantro leaves, to taste
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F (not fan forced). Toast the cumin seeds in the oven for about 10 minutes, then grind them.
In a bowl, combine the ground cumin with 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp red New Mexico chile powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes, 4 Tbsp olive oil, and salt. Stir to mix.
Break the cauliflower into florets and put them in a large bowl. Add the chilli mixture…
…and mix until the cauliflower is coated with the mixture on all sides.
Arrange the cauliflower on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, in a single layer. It is important that the moisture can escape, otherwise the cauliflower will not become crunchy.
Roast the cauliflower in the oven at 160C/325F (not fan forced) for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the cauliflower is tender on the inside as well as golden and crispy on the outside. Stir the cauliflower every half hour to ensure even cooking.
When it is done, take it out of the oven, add freshly squeezed lime juice…
…and cilantro to taste (which for me means just a little bit of cilantro). Serve at once or at room temperature.
A Pouilly-Fumé or other Sauvignon Blanc that has tang, brightness, earthiness and smokiness.