Cilantro-Mint Chutney

2 cups loosely-packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup loosely-packed fresh mint leaves
1 jalapeno pepper seeded
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
3 to 4 cloves garlic peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 – 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pureé until smooth. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if desired.

Sesame Ginger Pork Meatball Soup with Bok Choy

Meatballs:
1 egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs can use regular
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3/4-1 lb ground pork

Soup broth:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
4 small carrots diced
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 tsp Asian Chili Garlic Sauce to taste

To finish soup:
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 cups thinly sliced bok choy leaves
2 green onions thinly sliced, divided

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil. Set aside.

Prepare meatballs: Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in panko, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add ground pork and stir to incorporate seasonings into pork. Shape meatballs using a rounded 1 tsp measuring spoon. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until juices run clear and the meatballs are browned in spots. Remove from oven and set aside. *You can make ahead and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for longer.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sesame oil and carrots and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until carrots are softened. Add ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, water, soy sauce and chili garlic sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat, them reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Add meatballs, rice vinegar and 1/2 of the green onions to soup and allow to cook until meatballs are heated through. Turn off heat under soup. Stir in bok choy until just wilted. Serve garnished with remaining green onion.

Matt’s Kimchi

2 large heads napa cabbage (3 1/4 pounds each)—halved, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 head bok choy or 2 heads of baby bok choy, cut into 2-inch pieces
2/3 cup kosher salt
10 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 small onion, chopped
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1/2 pound daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 bunch carrots, cut into matchsticks
3/4 cup gochugaru (Korean coarse red pepper powder)

In each of 2 very large bowls, layer the cabbage and bok choy with the salt. Let stand for 45 minutes. Toss the cabbage well and let stand for 45 minutes longer.

Fill a sink with cold water. Swirl the cabbage and bok choy in it to remove the salt; drain and repeat. Drain well, lightly pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a very large bowl.

In a mini food processor, combine the garlic, onion, ginger and sugar and puree. Add the fish sauce and process until blended.

Add the daikon, scallions, and carrots to the cabbage and bok choy and toss.

Add the garlic mixture and the red pepper powder and toss thoroughly.

Pack the cabbage into three 1-quart jars. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the kimchi and put the caps on loosely.

Let stand at room temperature for 3 days, until the cabbage is tangy and bubbling.

Store in the refrigerator. The kimchi can be refrigerated for up to 6 months.

Cold Sesame Soba Noodles

1 package soba noodles
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons sambal olek
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 scallions

Treat your soba noodles as you would any pasta. Cook the noodles in a pot of salted, boiling water until tender, about five minutes. Strain noodles and transfer to medium-large bowl. Drizzle in about one tablespoon of sesame oil until you notice that the noodles give off an oily sheen from being well-coated. Pop that bowl in the refrigerator and forget about it until the noodles have chilled out.

While those soba noodles are chilling, combine about 1 tablespoon of ginger and 1 tablespoon of garlic in a small to medium-sized bowl. Add Indonesian hot sauce sambal oelek to that (about 1½ tablespoons) along with around two tablespoons soy sauce, two tablespoons mirin, two tablespoons lime juice, two tablespoons sesame oil, one tablespoon sesame seeds, and the sliced crunchy white-green bottoms of two or three scallions (save the green parts for the next step). Whisk to combine.

Remove the chilled soba noodles from the refrigerator and add half of the freshly whisked sauce and toss. Add the other half, along with the sliced green-only tops of two to three scallions. Make sure the noodles are generously coated in the spicy-sweet-salty-nutty dressing, and serve with sesame seeds and a sprinkle of whatever remaining scallion slices you have left.

Sichuan Cold Chicken with Two Sauces

About ¾ lb (300–350g) cold, cooked chicken, without bones
3 spring onions
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
For the sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp chicken stock
3–4 tbsp chilli oil with ½ tbsp of its sediment (or more, if you wish)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, to taste
1 tsp sesame oil

Cut or tear the chicken as evenly as possible into bite-sized strips or slivers and place them in a deep bowl. Cut the spring onions at a steep angle into thin slices. Mix them and the salt with the chicken. If using sesame seeds, toast them gently in a dry wok or frying pan for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden, then tip out into a small dish.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

When you are ready to eat, pour the sauce over the chicken, and mix well with chopsticks or salad servers. Arrange on a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

VARIATION

Another sauce for cold chicken
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp finely chopped or crushed garlic
2 tbsp chicken stock
3 tbsp chilli oil (with or without its sediment)
½ tsp ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
½ tsp sesame oil

Smoked Trout Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado

8 oz [230 g] arugula
5 oz [140 g] high-quality store-bought smoked trout
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
11/4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 grapefruit, pomelo, or oro blanco, or a combination, peeled and sectioned
1 avocado, cut lengthwise in 1/4-in [6-mm] slices
1/4 red onion, cut in thin slices

Put the arugula in a large mixing bowl.

Break up the trout into small chunks over the arugula. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Add the grapefruit sections, avocado, and onion and toss gently, taking care not to break up the avocado slices while distributing them evenly throughout the salad.

Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates and serve immediately.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (Niu Ro Mian)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds beef shank, cut into 4 large pieces
1 pound beef tendons
6 large slices fresh ginger
9 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 small fresh red Thai chiles, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
4 medium Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
1 cup Shaoxing rice wine
4 star anise pods
1 tablespoon crushed Sichuanese peppercorns
1 cup soy sauce, plus more to taste
½ pound leafy greens, such as baby bok choy or spinach
Black vinegar, to taste
2 pounds Asian wheat noodles
Preserved mustard greens, chopped, for serving
Fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), coarsely chopped, for serving
Scallions (light green and white parts), chopped, for serving

In a large pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the beef shank and tendons and cook until browned all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger, garlic, onion, and chiles and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and tomatoes and continue to cook until the sugar has dissolved and the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chili bean paste and continue to cook for an additional minute.

Return the browned meat and tendons to the pot. Add the Shaoxing wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the star anise, crushed peppercorns, soy sauce, and about 2 quarts of water. Bring the liquid to a boil; then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook, occasionally skimming any fat and debris off the surface, until the meat is meltingly tender, about 2 hours or longer for the tendons.

Transfer the beef shanks and tendons to a cutting board. Strain the soup through a colander into a clean pot, and discard the solids. When the beef and tendons have cooled, chop both into 1-inch slivers and add the meat to the strained broth. Bring the broth back to a slight boil, add the greens, and simmer just until tender. Season the soup with black vinegar and additional soy sauce to taste.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions, and drain them. Divide the noodles among large soup bowls, and pour the soup over them. Serve the mustard greens, cilantro, and scallions on the side, so each diner can pile them on in whatever order and amount they like.

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Bonito

1 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup bonito flakes

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard, and peel any spears thicker than a pencil. Using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, shave the spears of the asparagus (including the heads) as thin as possible.

In a medium bowl, dress the shaved asparagus with the olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt to taste. Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter with the almonds, apple slices, and bonito flakes.

Warm Lobster Salad with Pancetta, Potatoes, and Arugula

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced pancetta
12 fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
Kosher salt
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cooked lobsters cut into bite-sized pieces (see note)
2 cups arugula leaves

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook the pancetta until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Lower the heat to medium-low, and add the potatoes to the fat in the pan. Season the potatoes with kosher salt and sear for 10 minutes, or until they turn golden in color. Then place the skillet in the oven and roast the potatoes for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside and tender in the center.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the crème fraîche, mustard, lemon juice, chives, and pepper in a bowl and whisk them together. Season with kosher salt to taste and set aside.

When the potatoes are done, remove the skillet from the oven. Add the lobster meat and the crème fraîche dressing, and fold together. Add the pancetta and arugula snd serve immediately.

Note: To cook four 8-ounce tails, bring 6 cups salted water to boiling in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the lobster tails. Simmer, uncovered, for 8 to 12 minutes or until shells turn bright red and the meat is tender when poked with a fork. For larger or smaller tails, adjust the cooking time as needed.

Perfect Garlic Bread

1 large (about 12 ounces), not-too-firm seeded baguette
8 tablespoons (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted or salted butter (if salted, skip the salt below), cut into chunks
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or aged pecorino cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced chives (optional)

Heat your oven’s broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil to limit the mess you make. Cut baguette lengthwise and arrange pieces cut side up in pan. Put butter, garlic, pepper flakes and salt in a small saucepan and melt over medium-high heat, stirring, until garlic is sizzling in the butter (but not browning). Remove from heat and stir in oregano, if using. Spoon evenly over bread. Sprinkle bread with parmesan, if using, and broil — keeping a close watch on it and turning it as needed for even coloring — for 2 to 3 minutes. Seriously, watch it like a hawk. Nothing’s sadder than under- or over-cooked garlic bread.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley and chives, if using, and cut into segments. We keep extras in foil in the fridge and rewarm them in the oven, but you know it’s always best on the first day.

Basic Laab (Any protein)

1 pound (~500g) ground chicken, duck, turkey, pork, or beef
1/2 cup (3 fluid ounces) water, if necessary (see instructions)
2 large (56g) shallots, peeled and finely sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade toasted rice powder (see notes)
Fish sauce, or to taste
Lime juice, or to taste
Ground dried red pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (4g) whole cilantro leaves or coarsely-chopped sawtooth coriander leaves
1/3 cup (8g) mint leaves

In a skillet over medium heat, saute the chicken until cooked through. (Don’t use high heat; you don’t want to brown the chicken.) There should be some juice in the pan. If it gets too dry, add some water to the pan up to ½ cup.

Once the chicken is done, take the pan off the heat and immediately add the shallots; toss to wilt the shallots.

Start out by adding 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Toss everything together well, and taste to see if you like how it tastes. If not, add more fish sauce and/or lime juice until the salad tastes right to you. (For this recipe, I use 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and 4 tablespoons of lime juice.)

Add the toasted rice powder; toss.

Add about one teaspoon of dried chilli powder to the mix and taste. I usually add 1 tablespoon, but that may be too much for some of you.

Once the taste is where you want your laab to be, mix in the mint leaves and cilantro or culantro. Serve.

Fregola Soup with Rosemary

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste or puree
8 cups beef stock
2 small rosemary sprigs
2 cups (235 grams) fregola
salt
2 cups (225 grams) grated pecorino sardo

Heat the 4 tbsp olive oil and shallots in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot placed over medium heat. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are slightly softened.

In a small bowl, stir the tomato paste/puree with a splash or “two of the broth to dilute. Stir the mixture into the shallots. Pour the remaining broth into the pot and add the rosemary. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Gently pour in the fregola, stirring with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula as you pour. Cover partially and let the soup boil for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the fregola is al dente and the broth has thickened. Taste and add salt, if you like.

Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese. Ladle the soup into warmed shallow, rimmed bowls and top with the remaining cheese, adding a little mound to each bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface of the soup. Serve immediately.

Semolina Dumpling Soup

2 cups milk, half and half, or cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of nutmeg
2/3 cup/105 grams semolina flour
1/2 cup/55 grams parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely minced flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beatem
6 cups homemade chicken broth

“Combine the milk, butter, salt, and nutmeg in a heavy-bottome d saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then very slowly add the semolina in a constant stream, whisking all the while as you pour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the semolina is thickened and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl, using a spatula to scrape the sides of the pan. Stir in the ½ cup/55 g Parmigiano and parsley. Working slowly and stirring as you go, carefully pour in the eggs, taking care to incorporate them immediately so they don’t begin to “cook” and curdle. Set aside while you prepare the broth.

Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Using two standard-size coffee spoons or dessert spoons, scoop up about 1 tbsp of the semolina mixture and form it into an oval. This is easier than it sounds: you will see the oval naturally take shape as you transfer the mixture from one spoon to the other a few times. As you shape each dumpling, gently drop it into the boiling broth. You should have 20 to 24 dumplings in all. Reduce the heat to medium to allow the dumplings to simmer without the broth boiling over. Simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dumplings have floated to the surface and puffed up considerably.

Spoon the dumplings into warmed shallow rimmed bowls, dividing them evenly, and ladle some broth over them. Sprinkle with additional Parmigiano and serve immediately.

Yorkshire Puddings

4 large eggs (200g; 7 ounces)
150g all-purpose flour (5.25 ounces; about 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons)
175g whole milk (6 ounces; 3/4 cup) (see note above)
25g water (.85 ounces; 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) (see note above)
2g kosher salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
100ml beef drippings, lard, shortening, or vegetable oil (about 1/2 cup)

Combine eggs, flour, milk, water, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. Let batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, for best results, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate batter overnight or for up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator while you preheat the oven.

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Divide drippings (or other fat) evenly between two 8-inch cast iron or oven-safe non-stick skillets, two 6-well popover tins (see note above), one 12-well standard muffin tin, or one 24-well mini muffin tin. Preheat in the oven until the fat is smoking hot, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the pans or tins to a heat-proof surface (such as an aluminum baking sheet on your stovetop), and divide the batter evenly between every well (or between the two pans if using pans). The wells should be filled between 1/2 and 3/4 of the way (if using pans, they should be filled about 1/4 of the way). Immediately return to oven. Bake until the yorkshire puddings have just about quadrupled in volume, are deep brown all over, crisp to the touch, and sound hollow when tapped. Smaller ones will take about 15 minutes, popover- or skillet-sized ones will take around 25 minutes.

Serve immediately, or cool completely, transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat in a hot toaster oven before serving.

Vintage Hawaiian Salad

3/4 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
15 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained, reserving juice
6 oz. macaroni
2 (8o z.) containers Cool Whip
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained, reserving juice
10 1/2 oz. pkg, sm. marshmallows
Maraschino cherries & nuts

Mix sugar, eggs, cornstarch and salt together. Add reserved juice. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, remove from heat and cool.

Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain, rinse and cool. Add to cooled sauce. stir and put in refrigerator overnight.

The following day add pineapple, oranges and marshmallows. Mix well, fold in Cool Whip.

Garnish with cherries and nuts.

Vintage Apricot Salad

1 package (6 ounces) apricot or orange gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 ounces) apricot halves, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Additional chopped walnuts, optional

In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in water. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add pineapple to gelatin and set aside.

In a bowl, beat cream cheese and pineapple juice until smooth. Stir in gelatin mixture; chill until partially set, stirring occasionally.

Stir in apricots and walnuts. Fold in whipped topping. pour into a 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired. Chill until firm.

Vintage Hash Brown Casserole

1 32-ounce package of hash browns
1 10-ounce can of cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter

Topping:
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed cornflakes
2 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 350.

Spray a 2-quart baking dish.

Combine all ingredients except topping in a large bowl, then pour into baking dish.

Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl. Spinkle over top of potatoes.

Bake 45 minutes or until hash browns are tender.

Shakshuka

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
2 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus extra to
garnish
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp saffron threads
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper
up to 1 cup water
8 eggs

In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes to get a nice color.

Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the
cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce
consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. (You can prepare this mix well in advance.)

Remove the bay leaves, then divide the pepper mix among four deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place them on medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very (!) gentle heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Date-Onion Chutney

3 dried red chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons raw sesame oil, or vegetable oil, or ghee
1 large white onion (about 1/2 pound), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

Put the chiles in a small bowl, add 1 cup hot water, and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or karhai or a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until the onion is well touched with brown, about 10 minutes. Remove “from the heat and set aside.

Drain the chiles, place them in a food processor, add the chopped dates, and process for 30 seconds to finely chop. Add the onion mixture and process for about 15 seconds to chop and blend the ingredients. Alternatively, place the drained chiles on a flat stone mortar and grind to a paste with the pestle, add the dates and grind, and finally, add the cooked onion mixture and coarsely grind, leaving some small chunks.

Taste the chutney for salt, and adjust if necessary. Serve in a condiment dish. (Store leftovers in a well-sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.)

Cauliflower Dum

1. medium cauliflower (about 1½ pounds)
1/4 cup ghee, vegetable oil, or peanut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
2 teaspoons minced ginger or ginger mashed to a paste
About 1 cup grated onion
Scant 1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coriander, preferably freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (page 342 or store-bought)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 green cayenne chiles, stemmed and slit lengthwise
Scant 1 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves (optional)

Trim off the cauliflower leaves and the tough core. Cut into large florets, wash well, and set aside.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place a deep heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the ghee or oil, then add the cauliflower and cook (if it doesn’t all fit comfortably, fry it in two batches), turning the cauliflower florets every 2 to 3 minutes to brown them evenly, until they are touched all over with brown, 7 to 8 minutes. To keep the oil from spattering, keep the pot partially covered as the florets fry. Remove the cauliflower (tongs are the easiest way) and set aside.

Place the pot back over medium heat and toss in the cumin seeds and bay leaves. As soon as the seeds start to splutter, about a minute or less, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry briefly.

Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and turn light brown all through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, salt, ground coriander,garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric and stir to blend in. Cook, stirring frequently, until you see the oil rise (you’ll notice a gleam on the surface of the flavor paste), 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chiles and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until they shine bright green with oil.

Add the water, stir well, and raise the heat to bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The flavor paste will be thick and wet. Add the cauliflower to the pot and gently stir and turn until well coated with the spice paste.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pot to seal and then put the lid on top (or seal it with dough; see headnote).

Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Release the steam by lifting off the lid, opening it away from you to avoid the hot steam. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.

Spoon the cauliflower and sauce into a shallow bowl and garnish with the coriander leaves, if you wish.

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