Monday, 20 January 2014

Cheat's Curry and Rice

I've got the post Christmas overindulgence guilt quite badly this year which is frustrating as I tried so hard to moderate the nice stuff and not go too overboard for a change! Nevertheless I clearly had just one (yeah right) Quality Street or glass of fizz too many as this side of the festive season is feeling decidedly more podgy than the other end did.

This has resulted in very early morning workout sessions at the gym (something I am dubious about as at that time in the morning I'm not sure I'm even standing, let alone running) and trying to eat a tad more healthily than we normally do.

I still want nice food though - straight up diet food is just plain boring.  This is a cheat's curry not because you are cheating on flavour but because you are cheating on calories!  I've subbed out the coconut milk and rice and instead played some of the back benchers who have just been waiting for a shot at the big leagues.  Come on out fat free yoghurt and cauliflower!
Yes, you heard me.  Cauliflower.
Cauliflower 'rice' is a concept that has been doing the rounds a lot and for good reason.  I have no idea where it first came from as there are so many versions of it online and it has been raved about for a long time.  It is healthy, quick, easy, gluten free and has next to no calories compared to regular rice (100g of cauliflower rice has 24 calories compared to 100g of rice at 355 calories apparently!).

I hate cauliflower normally and was so dubious about making this - I had a bowl of regular rice soaking ready to go in case this turned out horribly but it is amazing.  It is so mild (it smells quite bad but tastes wonderful) and just absorbs whatever flavours you throw at it. It comes out light and fluffy and honestly feels like you are eating a bowl full of rice.

Steve came in from cricket and I thrust a spoonful of the 'rice' at him and demanded he try it without telling him what he was about to chow down on.  He loved it and was really surprised when I told him what it actually was!

I teamed this "rice" with an easy, low fat curry (most of the calories are in the lamb so sub it out for chicken or fish to reduce the calorie content even more).  This is a very mild, tomato based curry that is packed full of flavour.  Most of the heat comes from the madras paste and the chilli powder but if you want to amp it up a notch throw some whole chopped chilli's in.  Naga's have a lovely tone that will go really well with this dish but may be a little hot, otherwise a couple of red birdseye will do just fine.


300g lamb neck, chopped into chunks
1/4 lemon
3 whole tomatoes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 carton fat free natural yogurt
1/2 onion, chopped
1tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp black peppercorns
1tsp fennel seeds
2 tsps curry powder
2 tsps chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons madras paste
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon almond (or other mild) oil
2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
Splash of water (start low, 2 tablespoons and add more if needed)
Coriander and spring onion (chopped to serve)

1 head cauliflower
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon almond oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 handful dessicated coconut (to taste)
2 tablespoons turmeric (to taste)
Salt and Pepper

So, let's get cooking.

Start with your whole spice seeds and peppercorns.  Lightly toast them to release their fragrance then get an arm work out in by bashing them in a pestle and mortar until they are all cracked open.
Put your toasted spices into a blender and add everything else from the curry list, barring the lamb, tomatoes (whole and chopped), yoghurt, onion, coriander and spring onion.  Whizz them altogether to make a thick, fragrant paste (add a little more water if it is too gloopy).
Rub this paste into your lamb and leave it to marinade for at least an hour (overnight is best if you have the time and patience). 
When you are ready add your meat to the pan and allow it to brown for a second and then add your onions.  The marinade already has enough oil in it to cook the onions so don't add anymore.
Cut a small cross in the base of your tomatoes and stick them in a bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds.  Fish them out and the skin will have peeled back from the cross, making them easy to peel.
Peel and chop the tomatoes into chunks then add them and the tin of chopped tomatoes to the lamb and onions.  Pour enough of the yoghurt over the top to make a sauce and bring to a rapid boil.  Turn it down and leave it to simmer for a half hour or so.
While the curry is simmering away make your rice.  Remove any brown sections, stem and leaves from the cauliflower and break it into florets.  Stick it in the blender and whizz to a rice-like texture.  It doesn't smell very pleasant but just ignore that.
You are looking for a texture and consistency like this.  At this point it really doesn't look much like cauliflower anymore.
In a pan cook the chopped onion in the almond oil and butter.  When soft and translucent add the cauliflower to the onion and quickly turn it so it becomes lightly glossed in the butter-oil mix.

Cover the pan with tinfoil and allow the cauliflower to steam for about 10-15 minutes. 
When you are ready, remove the cover and add a good handful of dessicated coconut and enough tumeric to dye the cauli-rice a golden yellow.  Season well.
Serve - don't tell people what it is and ask them to guess.  They will never realise that they are basically eating a giant pile of veg!


  1. That looks so delicious. I love rice so much I could eat it all the time. I have to try it out :)

    1. Hi Nadja, thanks for stopping by and commenting. You really should, I was amazed at how unlike cauliflower it really tastes!

  2. This is so interesting, what a fab substitute. I may try this out sometime!

    1. Hi Linderella (great name!), thanks for stopping by and commenting. I would highly recommend trying this out!