This made-up vegan dish is delicious, with soft, spiced flesh and crispy edges. The cauliflower is cut “steak-style” rather than in the usual florets and the exotic, tart but rich, spiced flavors are very appealing. Vadouvan is known as “French curry,” being a French interpretation of an Indian Masala called vadavam, from the Pondicherry region of southern India, where France colonial influence is still felt. Basically, it adds that French staple, shallots, to a classic spice blend that features turmeric, cumin, curry leaves and coriander, among others.
Recipes are available for vadouvan but my made-up cauliflower recipe here uses a spice blend from La Boîte à Epice, the spice blender to the stars in New York. An alternative is to mix the dry spices included in the link above in my recipe and hope it’s as good as what La Boîte has assembled.
My recipe creates a lemon vinaigrette, basically, that includes fresh shallots and La Boîte’s vadouvan. To find out more about La Boîte, see this post. Spices can be ordered from La Boîte’s website. While the cauliflower shrinks quite a bit in the oven, the recipe below can be reduced in volume.
3 regular cauliflower or 4 small ones
7 T fresh lemon juice and zest of one lemon
14 T good-quality olive oil (I recommend California Olive Ranch’s oils)
3 medium shallots, peeled and very roughly chopped
2 T Vadouvan spice blend from La Boîte à Epice or an equivalent
salt and pepper
(optional) 1 T sugar
Set oven to 400 degrees and lay out some large cookie sheets.
Place trimmed cauliflower (leaves and extra stems removed) stem side down on a cutting board and slice vertically about every 1/2+ inch. Some of the pieces will be large “steaks” but that’s ok.
In a food processor, put the remaining ingredients and process until thick and creamy. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding sugar if needed and salt and pepper as desired.
Brush liberally on both sides of cauliflower, laying vegetables slices in a single layer on cookie sheets. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn over and roast for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.