Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

I’ve got a full-on case of Spring Fever. I can’t focus on any of my work because I’m too busy daydreaming of asparagus tarts and new sundresses, warm, morning bike rides and picnic lunches. I’m completely twitterpated. If winter’s dreary colors have me making dishes like this and this, the hues of spring inspire me to eat brighter, fresher, healthier meals. The royal purple and pale lavender of pansies, the blushing pink of breakfast radishes, the chartreuse ombre of spring onions and ramps; these are the tones that make my mouth water, like Pantone chips come to life.

But during the last few days of winter, when the sun is out but still quite cold, this is the type of dish I crave. Full of bright flavors that hint at the hot weather to come, but hearty enough to sustain me through blustery early March days, this curry is one of my staple meals. I’m no authority on traditional Indian fare, but I like to think that this recipe has some roots in authenticity. It has been severely adapted from one of Deb’s recipes, which was adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. That has to count for something, right?

I’ve made variations of this dish with just chickpeas, a more typical chana masala, but also with okra, leafy greens, or potato thrown in the mix. It’s infinitely adaptable and always satisfying. Feel free to tone down the spice by removing the seeds from your jalapeno or by serving with a creamy, cool raita. No matter how you serve it, this curry will fill you up with lots of nutrients and be an inspiring hue of fiery orange. Vibrant enough to carry you through until spring really hits.

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry
serves 6

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 16-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 24-oz can chopped tomatoes
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Sweat onions in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, and pepper and sautee until fragrant. Add all spices and stir to coat. Add cauliflower, chickpeas, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and their liquid and stir. Bring curry to a low boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes until cauliflower is cooked through but still has some bite. Add lemon juice and cilantro. Salt to taste. Serve over steamed rice with naan or pita bread for scooping.