Panko-Crusted Cauliflower and Coconut Curry

Panko-Crusted Cauliflower and Coconut Curry

This text and recipe is posted with permission from Vegetable Kingdom written by Bryant Terry. Photo credit: Ed Anderson.

Terry pairs each recipe with a soundtrack, with the playlist inextricably linked to the recipe. See his recommendation for this recipe below.

From the author: My Kenyan college buddy Kabui once described a chicken and coconut curry dish called kuku paka, originating from Kenya’s coastal region. Here I adapted a coconut curry recipe that I created a few years ago with a nod to that conversation with Kabui. I pair it with roasted cauliflower topped with parsley-flecked panko bread crumbs.

(Oaktown note: Terry provides recipes for making your own spice blends throughout his cookbook; we think our Garam Masala blend is a great stand-in for the homemade version. It's ground and blended fresh in small batches.)

Makes 4 servings


Coconut Curry

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Garam Masala (see below)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick


2 large cauliflower heads (about 2 pounds each), leaves removed and stems trimmed so they sit flat
1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
cup Garlic Oil, plus Garlic Chips (see below)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
Cooked black rice, for serving


Make the curry: In a sauté pan, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, bay leaves, and salt and sauté for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and set aside.

Place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl. With clean hands, squeeze the tomatoes to break them into smaller pieces. Transfer them to the pan with the onion. Add the coconut milk, then fill the coconut milk can one-quarter full with water and stir it well to incorporate any leftover coconut milk. Add this to the pan along with the cinnamon stick and mix well. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes, removing the cinnamon stick after 5 minutes.

Make the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Stand one head of cauliflower on the stem end and, using a sharp chef’s knife, cut two 1-inch-thick slices, cutting through the core so the slices hold together. Repeat with the other head (reserve the unused portions for another use).

Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the boiling water and, one at a time, use tongs to gently lower the cauliflower slices into the water. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Using two slotted spoons, gently transfer the cauliflower slices to a colander to cool.

Gently transfer the cauliflower slices to the prepared baking sheet. Brush 1/4 cup of the garlic oil over the slices, coating them on both sides. Roast until the cauliflower is browned, about 25 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, in a food processor, combine the panko, parsley, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and process until the mixture is well blended. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and pour in the remaining 1/4 cup garlic oil. Mix well.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon an even coating of the panko mixture over each slice of cauliflower. Switch the oven to broil on low, return the baking sheet to the oven, and broil until the panko mixture starts to bubble and brown.

To serve, ladle the curry into four shallow bowls, place a cauliflower slice in each bowl, and garnish with the garlic chips and some parsley. Serve with black rice.

“Kajo Golo Weka” by The Eagles Lupopo from Kenya Special

Garam Masala

Makes about 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Garlic Oil (and garlic chips)

Makes 3/4 cup oil and 1/2 cup chips
3/4 cup olive oil
16 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

In a medium skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the oil through fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, reserving the garlic chips. Use immediately or store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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