As Wikipedia reports, broccoli is the plural of the Italian word “broccolo” which means “flowering head of a cabbage”. Broccoli, however, is closely related to the cauliflower. The vegetable which comes from Europe was introduced via England into the US. It is an integral part of the American diet and has been successfully incorporated into many other cuisines like Chinese and Thai given its closeness to cauliflower.
Even though cauliflower is widely used in the Indian cuisine, broccoli has really not gone mainstream with Indian food like it has with Thai and Chinese food. It is a shame because it really is a wonderful vegetable. While I have been using broccoli instead of and in addition to cauliflower in traditional dishes like Sambar(Lentil based Vegetable Stew) or Aloo Gobhi (a dry spiced Potato-Cauliflower dish) when I came across the recipe below in a Nita Mehta cookbook, my curiosity was piqued. Here was a recipe where broccoli was the star and the seasoning was Indian. I tried it and I can say with some confidence that it really works. The wife and kids agreed and there was much singing and dancing around the fire that night.
Here it is.
NOTE: The recipe does use non-standard ingredients that might necessitate a trip to an Indian grocery store.
INGREDIENTS (Enough as a side dish for 4)
1 lb broccoli heads – fresh and crunchy – cut into florets with stalks
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds) – any Indian grocery store would have this
1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 cup plain yogurt – whisked
1/4 cup whipping cream
Minced ginger from a 1 inch peeled piece
1 Tbsp Tandoori masala – another ingredients that would send you to the Indian grocery store
Couldn’t be easier
1. Bring 5-6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Dunk the broccoli for a minute, immediately take it out and shock it in an ice bath. You want the broccoli to stop cooking and remain crunchy. This is critical. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE BROCCOLI.
2. Drain the water and dry out the broccoli on paper towels.
3. Sprinkle the first marinade on the broccoli.
4. After 15 minutes, move the broccoli to a gallon size ziploc bag and pour in the second marinade. Mix well.
5. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
6. Heat a grill (preferable) or an oven on broil (or grill) at high heat (450F is great) and barbecue the spears for 10 minutes. Don’t overgrill as the broccoli would get too dry.
7. Serve hot as a side dish.