Birthday Feast for Six

I can’t believe it’s been over two months since my last post. I have clearly taken on way too much this semester. The good thing is though.. it’s coming to an end. I have finished teaching for another year and all I have to do now is get down to marking the student’s final reports and exams. Yes. More marking. I feel like I haven’t stopped since August and I guess I haven’t. There is always something.

One thing I did manage to do last month though was cook a big feast for my gorgeous mother’s birthday. I won’t mention her age because not only is it irrelevant, but she will also never look it.

I decided to gather recipes from a few of my favourite places including Bill Granger, Jamie Oliver and a couple of my favourite blogs. I ended up with this menu*:

Chapatis with hummus – Yoghurt and spinach salad – Carrot salad – Whole roasted tandoori cauliflower with mint chutney – Indian meatball and rice pilaf – Rhubarb and pear meringue tarts with lemon thyme

The chapatis, carrot salad and tarts were adapted from Jamie’s new 30 Minute Meals cookbook. I was skeptical about this book at first but after watching the first series I’m hooked. The meatballs, rice and spinach salad were from Bill Granger’s Feed Me Now cookbook, which is great when you need menu ideas. I’ve done the meatballs from this numerous times and they’re always a big hit.

The Dinner TableThe thing that generated the most oohs and aahs from the guests was the tandoori cauliflower though. I saw this on the lovely Sarah Britton’s blog. She always has the most amazing recipes, photos and videos. I was inspired by the wow factor of her cauliflower and decided to give it a shot.

But before I could get to the cauliflower, I had to make the spice mix. Sarah’s spice mix had the following dried spices:

2 tsp. (4 grams) chili (or you could use cayenne)
1 Tbsp. (5 grams) cardamom seeds (or pods)
4 Tbsp. (20 grams) cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. (11 grams) coriander seeds
½ whole nutmeg, grated
2 tsp. (5 grams) whole cloves
2-3 (5 grams) cinnamon sticks/quills
2 Tbsp. (15 grams) ground turmeric
2 Tbsp. (15 grams) paprika

SpicesPlace all ingredients except for the turmeric and paprika in a spice mill, mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. I used a mortar and pestle in batches to begin with but it was quite hard work so I ended up putting it all in my little food processor. This worked well but don’t do it if you don’t want your processor stained! Grind until powdered. Mix in turmeric and paprika and transfer to a glass jar. Keep away from light and heat. Sarah says it should keep for up to six months.

Tandoori spice mix in a jar

On the morning of the dinner I trimmed the leaves off a head of cauliflower and prepared my marinade:

4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. minced of grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. tandoori spice mix
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. sea salt
½ cup (120 ml) thick yogurt

In a mortar and pestle (or food processor) smash garlic and ginger into a paste. Add the tandoori spice, lemon and salt and mix until uniform. Fold in the yogurt.
Place the whole of cauliflower -washed and trimmed – in a large bowl and spread the marinade all over, including the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum 1 hour – maximum 12. As I said, I did it in the morning ready for that evening.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Place cauliflower in the middle of a lined baking sheet or roasting tray and roast until tender (45-60 minutes depending on the size of the cauliflower). A skewer should be easily inserted into the centre if it has been in long enough. Garnish with coriander leaves and even some sliced red chilli, lots of lemon juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately with mint chutney.

Cauliflower with marinade

Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower

For the mint chutney (which by the way went great on cold roast chicken sandwiches the next day):

2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 shallot, minced
½ red chili, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup yogurt (I used coconut cream which gave it an amazing depth and nuttiness)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
a couple pinches salt
1 tsp. honey

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is a chunky pesto-type of sauce. Season to taste. This can then be served up as a garnish on the cauliflower, or whatever takes your fancy. It does pack a punch so if you don’t feel up to it you can leave the chilli out.


I was so happy with the way everything turned out. And so was Mum cx

*If anyone is interested in any of the other recipes be sure to let me know and I will add them.

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