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Cauliflower Pakoras with Cilantro Mint Sauce

I think that I would have to say cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. While I tend to cook broccoli more often because of its bright color and contrast, cauliflower seems to have so much more potential. When roasted it has a delicious nutty flavor. In a stir fry it lends a neutral backdrop to other colors and flavors. Steamed in one large head it makes a beautiful base for sauces. Raw it adds texture in salads and can even pose as fried rice in this temptingly light raw dish.

A couple of weeks ago I ran across another mouth watering recipe for cauliflower. In the November issue of Sunset magazine there was a page about quick appetizers and a tempting photo of Cauliflower Panko Pakoras with Cilantro Mint Dipping Sauce. It looked like tempura vegetables but instead of tempura sauce it was served with a brilliantly festive green masala sauce.

It looked gorgeous and as I read further I found that the cauliflower pieces were baked, not fried. That sold me. I had to try it.

Though this recipe calls for a long list of ingredients, it is quite easy to make. Just dip and dredge cauliflower florets and place them in the oven on an oiled baking sheet. While they are baking mix the sauce in the food processor. The result is a delicious plate of appetizers that are perfect for a holiday gathering.

Cauliflower Panko Pakoras
from Sunset magazine

1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs), divided
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup club soda
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
24 oz. cauliflower florets, (approximately two bags prepackaged or two heads)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Mix flour, 1/2 cup panko, garam masala, baking soda, salt, cumin, turmeric, cayenne and black pepper in a large mixing bowl until well combined.

Add lemon juice, club soda and egg whites to the dry mixture, whisking just until combined.

Dip florets into the mixture one at a time, roll each in additional panko crumbs and set on an oiled baking sheet. (They will probably fill two baking sheets.)

Bake until browned and crispy, approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare Cilantro Mint Dipping Sauce.

Serve with the dipping sauce.

Cilantro Mint Dipping Sauce
from Sunset magazine

I serrano chile, stemmed
2 cups cilantro leaves
12 large fresh mint leaves
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place chile, cilantro leaves and mint leaves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until uniform. Add water, vegetable oil, lemon juice and salt. Blend until smooth.

Note: When I made these the second time I thought it would be fun to try using different vegetables. I used sweet potato slices, acorn squash slices and carrots in addition to cauliflower. Everything turned out to be tender and delicious, not to mention lovely, especially when paired with the dipping sauce.



Mary Bergfeld said...

Lisa, these look truly spectacular. I'm always looking for recipes where dipping vegetables can be baked rather than fried. I also love cilantro, so this post is a homerun for me.

Finla said...

Wow those pakoras look crunchy delcious. Superb.
Love that you are serving with mint sauce, real refreshing .

Cathy said...

Yum, yum, yum. Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. This recipe sounds wonderful. Isn't panko the best? I use it so many ways.

This looks like a winner, Lisa, and I can't wait to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Those pakoras do look fantastic! What a great way to use cauliflower (and so glad you liked the "fried rice"!). I am SO excited about the mint sauce, too--looking forward to another use for my crazy-multiplying mint that I found in our garden last summer! :)

Susan @ SGCC said...

This dish looks amazing! Cauliflower is one of my fave vegetables. I must try it this way. Well done!

grace said...

cauliflower never had it so good! aside from being fabulous on their own, your pakoras get to dive into an amazing sauce--bravo!

Gypmar said...

I'm sold. That looks incredible.

Vera said...

This dish does look and sound mouthwatering, Lisa! I'll definitely give it a try!

Cucee Sprouts said...

What a vegetable this is. I love how versatile cauliflower is. I so tempted to try your recipe later this week (I have 3 heads of cauliflower waiting for me at home.) I will come back to your site and report on how your recipe turned out for sure! Would you like to take a look at my most recent cauliflower creation? http://cuceesprouts.com/2010/09/marinated-cauliflower-salad/

mysoapdeli.com said...

These look amazing. I can't wait to try them for Christmas.