One of the quirkiest statements I've heard my dad make (& he had his fair share of quirky but true observations about life that never failed to elicit a chuckle or two) was that when he was old and had lost his teeth, he hoped that his fondness for murrukku (a crunchy deep fried savory South Indian snack) was satiated enough that he wouldn't have to ask anyone to grind up the murrukku in a coffee grinder to feed him. Its odd that my recipe for this week could be interpreted as exactly that by those who are familiar with the dish in its original form and its deconstruction.
As much as I love Aloo (potato) and Gobi (cauliflower) parathas, my skill at creating the latter leaves a lot to be desired. With Aloo paratha's, the trick is to mash up the starchy, powdery variety of boiled potatoes to the hilt and you're pretty much guaranteed a respectable flatbread that invariably gets eaten up in less time than it takes to make and pan fry one.
Not so with its cousin, the cauliflower paratha.. Gobi paratha's are temperamental..as much as one would wish, shredded / minced cauliflowers are not going be finer than the consistency of gritty sand, and it just does NOT work if the vegetable is cooked. Net result: the parathas are either as thick as quilted oven mitts, or completely perforated at the points where the cauliflower micro floret simply popped out of the dough and glued itself to the rolling pin. I've been known to get quite 'sailorish' in the course of uttering a monologue directed at the said dish and almost wished many a time that I could just toss the whole mass into the insinkerator to pulverize away. (If I had one installed in my sink, which I don't).
Well..that brings me to this weeks recipe which, although I had made way back in the summer, I simply could not forget and had to recreate again, simply for the pleasure of savoring the taste of Cauliflower parathas.. Slurped up with a spoon! Yes...the flavors of Cauliflower paratha as I remember it, redolent with the flavors of Amchur and Ajwain to be sipped piping hot as the cold weather rolls in.
Gobi Paratha Soup
6 inch piece of stale baguette broken into bits (Don't even bother trying to use slices of commercial preservative laden bread)
1 head Cauliflower, dissected into florets ( I used an orange one that happened to be sitting in the fridge)
2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for drizzling
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon finely powdered ajwain seeds
1 teaspoon dried mango powder (aamchur)
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger (optional)
1 - 2 birds eye chile finely minced (as per personal preference)
3-4 cups water
salt to taste
1/2 cup cilantro for garnish
Dollops of Greek yogurt or Labneh to serve
Preheat oven to 400 F
Combine the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, spices and the salt and toss to coat well. Layer onto a baking sheet . Drizzle oil over the stale bread and layer the bread onto another baking sheet. Place both sheets into the oven. Check the bread every 3- 5 minutes. when the bread appears to have browned nicely with few charred spots, remove from oven.
Allow the cauliflower to roast in the oven until crisp (about 25 - 35 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Combine the bread and the cooled cauliflower along with the chili & ginger in a blender and puree the mix until smooth (as per your taste preference. I preferred to have it a trifle chunky so I used the food processor instead).
Strain the puree (discarding the chunky bits) into a heavy bottom pan and gently heat until the soup begins to simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Remove from heat, garnish with cilantro, sprinkle a pinch of paprika for color and serve warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt or Labneh.