This version of an Indian-flavoured soup uses lentils (dhal) to thicken the soup rather than being a main ingredient, letting the cauliflower shine.
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2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/3 cup red lentils
6 cups cauliflower florets, about half a head
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
Oil for frying
Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add ginger and garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander seeds and cayenne and sauté 1 minute longer. Add lentils and cauliflower and stir with spices. Season lightly with salt.Add stock to cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils are soft and cauliflower is tender. Spoon out 1 cup of small cauliflower florets and set aside.
Puree soup in a food processor or with a stick blender. If soup is too thick, thin down with extra stock. Return to pot and stir in yogurt. Season well. Rewarm when needed.
Mix together flour, cornstarch, coriander and season with salt. Add enough water (about 1/4 cup) to make a batter the thickness of whipping cream. Stir in cooked cauliflower florets.
Heat 1-inch oil in a small skillet over high heat until very hot. Spoon 2 tablespoon cauliflower mixture into hot oil, forming a fritter. Repeat with remaining mixture. Fry until batter is crisp and golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve on top of soup.
Suggested Wine Pairings
My preference is gewurztraminer, preferably a rich example from Alsace. It’s strongly musky, with floral and ginger nuances layered on abundant, lychee-like fruit, just the profile to power through the aromatics here. If you prefer something tamer, try a buttery Californian or Australian chardonnay. - Beppi Crosariol