A simple soup that I loved as a child. It reminds me of Indian hotel soups in the waning years of the Raj.


• 3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
• ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
• ¼ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
• 1 medium onion (about 6½ oz), peeled and chopped
• 1 medium potato (about 6½ oz), peeled and chopped
• 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 1 fresh hot green chili, chopped
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
• ¼ teaspoon nice red chili powder
• About 3½ cups cauliflower florets
• 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
• 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
• Generous handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons lime juice (optional)
• 4–5 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Put the oil in a good-sized pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, and a few seconds later the fennel seeds. Wait 2 seconds and add the onions and potatoes. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies. Stir for 1 minute.
2. Turn the heat to medium low and add the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder. Stir for 1 minute. Now put in the cauliflower, tomatoes, salt, and fresh cilantro. Stir for 1 minute. Add 4 cups water, stir, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
3. Let the soup cool a bit, then blend it in two batches. Taste for seasoning, adding some black pepper, the lime juice if you want it, and the cream. You can push the soup through a sieve or food mill if you want a very smooth texture. Reheat to serve.