Gobhi Panch Phoron: Indian and Bangladeshi Spiced Cauliflower

 

This is an ideal light yet abundantly flavorful vegetarian dish to consider when putting together summer meals for family and friends. Traditionally Gobhi Panch Phoron is usually served with yellow rice, a dal, and some pickled vegetables, but this dish also pairs beautifully with a selection of summery western style vegetables, grains, and salads.

A trip to your local spice purveyor may be required, but otherwise the preparation for this dish is a breeze. In no time at all there is a heady aroma of exotic sizzling seeds wafting through the kitchen and brilliant turmeric hued cauliflower florets dancing away in a hot skillet.  This is fun and lively cookery that delivers some light and spicy Indian taste bites that are sure to please!  

Panch Phoron seed mixture is the flavor base for this dish, but the seeds are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Cumin seeds have an earthy flavor and aid in digestion. Anise seeds are aromatic with a slight sweetness. Mustard seeds are hot and pungent. Nigella seeds have a peppery smokey flavor. Fenugreek seeds are aromatic with a slight bitterness. The combined seeds are sizzled together in hot oil that unleashes their flavors and aromas before other ingredients are added to the pan, and sauteed.

 

Make the Panch Phoron seed mixture before you start cooking.

Panch Phoron

  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds (jerra)
  • 2 tsp. anise seeds (saunf)
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds ( sarson)
  • 2 teaspoons nigella seeds (kalongi)
  • 2 tsp. fenugreek seeds (methi)

Combine the seeds and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

 

Gobhi Panch Phoron    serves 4

  • 1 medium size cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 8 oz green beans (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Panch phoron
  • 3 tablespoons neutral flavored vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced and minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled, and minced
  • 1-2 fresh green chilies, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • 1/4  to ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or butter
  • fresh coriander leaves for garnish

I prefer steaming the cauliflower and green beans separately, both al dente, before proceeding with the cooking for this recipe.

Select a wide skillet or a wok with a lid and set it over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the panch phoron seed mixture. Using a wooden spatula, give the seeds a quick stir and then promptly cover with the lid as the seeds will immediately start sizzling and then popping, the seeds rapidly bouncing off the lid. Once the popping stops remove the lid and add the onions. Lower the heat slightly and saute while stirring until the onions are wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies and stir while sauteing another 2 minutes. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and the red chile flakes and stir until well combined.

Add the cauliflower florets and  green beans (if using) and cook while continuously turning the vegetables for about 5 minutes. You will notice the pan drying out so it is important to keep the vegetables moving so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Then add the water and deglaze the pan using the wooden spatula, releasing any bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the contents of the pan are bathed with the deglazed liquid add the ghee (or butter) and fold it into the ingredients until the vegetables are evenly glazed.

Taste and add salt if needed.

Serving:      Spoon the Gobi Panch Phoron into a serving dish, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

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