Achari means “pickled.” As with most pickled foods, this cauliflower dish helps to sharpen the edges of other, more comforting dishes at the table. It’s lip-smackingly delicious, and the flavor will improve over time, so it’s a good thing to make in advance. It works well with buttery flavors, like the moong dal with a garlic and cumin tarka, or the sticky mango paneer skewers , with some parathas thrown into the mix.
Serves 4 as part of a main course
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
12 fresh curry leaves
1 large cauliflower (about 1¾ pounds), broken into bite-sized florets
2½-inch piece of ginger, peeled
1½ Indian green chiles, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
11/3 teaspoons salt
1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Put the oil into a large lidded frying pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Wait for the seeds to crackle and pop, and the curry leaves to crisp up and go translucent, then add the cauliflower.
Fry the cauliflower for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Grate the ginger, then squeeze the juice into the pan with your hands or through a fine sieve or muslin cloth, and discard the pulp. Add the green chiles and continue to pan-fry for another 5 minutes. The cauliflower will start to char and caramelize (which is where lots of lovely flavor will come from).
When it has colored nicely, add 4 tablespoons of water, stir through, then cover and leave to steam for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the lime juice, salt, turmeric, ground coriander, and cumin, and stir-fry for another 6 to 8 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated.
Check the cauliflower for salt and lime—both should be well balanced—and either serve hot immediately or leave to cool and store in a container in the fridge to eat later.