Kashmiri Phool Yakhni – Cauliflower in Yogurt sauce

Kashmiri Phool Yakhni is a vegetarian version of the sublime yogurt based Yakhni that is traditionally mutton based in Kashmir. Cauliflower is the shining star in this recipe

The Cauliflower florets are par-boiled in turmeric, fried and then simmered in yogurt infused with spices like cardamom, fennel, ginger and cinnamon. These are the quintessential spices used in Kashmiri cuisine which date back to centuries.

Modern Kashmiri cuisine  tracks its history to 15th century when Timur ( a Turco-Mongol conqueror)  invaded India which led to the migration of 1700 skilled woodcarvers, weavers, architects, calligraphers and cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir.

Ok so here is the diversion from the traditional in my American kitchen….This is my recipe and I have used a coconut based yogurt to experiment with a vegan version. It was beyond my expectations, and dancing taste buds kind of delicious. I used the So  Delicious unsweetened coconut yogurt. Please free to use your choice of unsweetened yogurt.

Continuing to break the tradition, I decided not to fry the cauliflower after boiling but it can be done just to get a crisp browning. Not necessary in my opinion.

This recipe also uses lots of turmeric simply because I love it! 

Before the recipe begins, I am leaving you with verse of Habba Khatoon and 16th century Kashmiri poetess and peasant queen. These verses remind me of the beauty and uniqueness of Kashmir that translates to its cuisine.

The distant meadows are in bloom.

Have you not heard my call?

Flowers bloom on mountain lakes

Come, let us ascend these meadows now

The lilac blooms in distant woods

Have you not heard my call?

Phool Yakhni - Cauliflower in Yogurt sauce

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"Phool Yakhni - Cauliflower in Yogurt sauce"


Credit: foodforthesoul00.com

Ingredients

• Cauliflower – 1 broken into large florets

• Onion – 1 medium

• Ginger powder – 1 tsp

• Turmeric Powder – 2 tsp

• Fennel powder – 1.5 tsp

• Garlic – 1 tbsp minced

• Green cardamom – 5

• Black Cardamom – 2

• Cinnamon sticks – about 3 -4 inches

• Crushed Dry mint – 1 tbsp

• Rice flour – 1 tbsp

• Salt to taste

• Mustard or oil of choice ( 2 tbsp and additional for frying the onions)

• Organic Yoghurt ( Regular or plant based) 3 cups or 1 24 oz container


Directions

• Add 1 tsp of turmeric to boiling water. Add a sprinkle or salt and boil the florets for about 2-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

• Chop and fry onions until golden brown. Remove onions from oil, crush in a mortar pestle and set aside

• Heat the leftover oil from the onions and add more if needed in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the yogurt and start whipping. You have to continue whipping the yogurt until it is boiling. Your hand cannot leave the stirring/whipping or the yogurt will curdle. This is a critical step in making a smooth sauce. It will take about 10 minutes.

• Add the rest of the spice ingredients ( except for mint and onions)

• Keep the stirring going for 5 mins or so.

• Add the cauliflower. If the suace is thick, add some water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered until the cauliflower is tender.

• Add the Fried onions and Mint for a beautiful flavor.

• Serve with white or brown rice or bread.


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