Here are a few recipes taken from Hope Cohen's new Fast, Fresh + Simple cookbook ($30, amazon.com, fastfreshandsimple.com), but with extra spice inspired by her recent trip to India.
1 head cauliflower, washed, trimmed and separated into bite-size pieces
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño peppers, or to taste
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons water
Make the curry paste. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small, dry pan on medium heat until they are fragrant and toasted. Finely grind spices with mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder.
Combine all ingredients except cauliflower in a food processor and process until well-combined. Reserve half the curry paste for future use.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine cauliflower in a large bowl with the remaining curry paste until cauliflower is well-covered. Transfer onto a sheet pan lined with foil that has been lightly coated with oil to prevent sticking.
Roast cauliflower for 45 minutes or until it starts to brown, a knife inserted into a stem is tender - and your house smells delicious.
Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and serve as part of a buffet. It's good cold the next day, too. Serves 4.
Rich and fragrant with spices and sweet from the carrots, this is a delicious pureed soup that could easily be converted to vegetarian. Just substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken stock.
The Indian spices scent the yogurt perfectly to finish the soup.
WITH INDIAN SPICES
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 leek, washed well and sliced thin
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Scant sprinkle ground cinnamon
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Pinch each ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, ground cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh cilantro
Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots, leek, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook until leeks are translucent, about 6 minutes. Do not brown vegetables.
Add broth, bring to a simmer, cover and simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes.
Carefully strain vegetables from stock, reserving liquid. Puree vegetables in food processor, blender or with an immersion blender, adding enough stock to bring soup to desired consistency.
Return soup to pot and reheat to a bare simmer. In a small bowl, whisk yogurt vigorously with a tablespoon of water, all the pinches of ground spices and more salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle soup into serving bowls, garnish with spiced yogurt and chopped cilantro. Serves 4-6.