Cauliflower kurma is a South Indian aromatic stew like gravy made with cauliflower, peas, coconut, nuts, spices and herbs. This lightly spiced & complexly flavored warming side dish is absolutely delish and flavorsome. Serve this over plain rice, flavored variety rice like ghee rice, pulao, jeera rice or with any flatbreads like roti, paratha, poori, chapati or naan. No matter with what you serve this tastes extremely delicious!
Kurma also known as korma is an aromatic gravy or saucy dish popular in Central Asia, most importantly in India. It is made in numerous ways so you will get to see so many kinds of kurmas made using various ingredients like nuts, yogurt, seeds, coconut or a mix of all these.
About this recipe
This recipe will give you a South Indian cauliflower kurma that has lovely complex flavors from various spices, nuts, coconut and herbs. So the gravy has a subtle sweet aroma coming the coconut and the tang from tomatoes. The dish is spiced but isn’t spicy at all so it is kids’ friendly too.
If you do not have fresh coconut you can use thick coconut milk or yogurt. In South India, especially in Tamilnadu, roasted gram also known as roasted chana dal is used in kurma dishes.
However I have used cashews here for a creamy taste. You can easily substitute the cashews with roasted chana dal or with poppy seeds as mentioned in the recipe card.
How to make cauliflower kurma
1. Cut cauliflower to medium sized florets (250 grams). I usually spray vinegar and sprinkle some salt to get rid of the pesticide residue. Rest them for 5 minutes. Heat 4 to 5 cups of water in a large pot, just until slightly hot and not boiling hot. Add cauliflower florets and rest them for 2 to 3 minutes. This step is done to bring out the hidden worms from the cauliflower, if any. You may skip and just rinse too.
2. Drain off the water and rinse well in running water. Drain and set aside. Rinse ¾ cup green peas as well. Set aside.
3. Heat 1½ tablespoons oil in a pan. Reduce the heat to low and add all the whole spices –
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ star anise, 1 bay leaf
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamoms
- 1 strand mace (optional). Let them sizzle in the oil for 30 seconds so they release the aroma.
4. Add 1 cup finely chopped onions and 1 chopped green chilli (optional). Saute them until lightly golden.
5. Add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell disappears. This takes only a minute or so.
6. Add ½ cup deseeded finely chopped or mashed or pureed tomatoes and ⅓ teaspoon salt. Saute until the tomatoes turn mushy. If needed sprinkle little water & cook covered to quickly soften them.
7. To a grinder jar, add ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ¼ cup coconut and 12 cashews (or 1½ teaspoon roasted chana dal). Grind to a smooth paste with 4 to 6 tablespoons water. If you do not like the flavor of fennel you may skip.
Tip: If using poppy seeds, soak them for 15 minutes in warm water and make a fine paste along with coconut. If you do not have coconut, add ¼ cup yogurt and make a paste with cashews.
8. Add 1 teaspoon garam masala powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder and 1/8 teaspoon turmeric. Saute till you get a nice aroma, just for 2 to 3 minutes.
9. Add the ground coconut paste.
10. Stir and fry again for about 3 to 4 minutes till the mixture smells good. The mixture should also thicken.
11. Add cauliflower and peas.
12. Stir and fry for another 4 to 5 minutes. You can also move the masala aside in the pan and fry the cauliflower and peas.
13. Pour 1 cup water, just enough to cook cauliflower and make a good kurma gravy. Mix well. Cover and cook till the cauliflower is cooked. As you cook add more water if needed.
14. Add finely chopped coriander leaves. I didn’t have coriander leaves so I used mint. Taste test and add more salt if needed.
Keep cauliflower kurma covered until served to retain the aroma & flavors.
- Rice: Plain fluffy steamed rice or flavored rice varieties like jeera rice, ghee rice, kuska biryani rice or pudina rice make easy yet tasty combinations with this kurma gravy.
- Indian flatbreads: cauliflower kurma pairs great with some flaky whole wheat parathas, soft roti or chewy naans.
- Indian fry bread: Poori is the most popular Indian fried bread that is eaten with kurma in the Southern parts of India. So give it a try and we just love it at home.
- Dosa: This cauliflower kurma tastes great with dosas like neer dosa, crispy dosa or wheat dosas.
- Whole spices: I would recommend not to alter the quantity of whole spices, ground spices, nuts and seeds as mentioned in the recipe. This can alter the flavor of the dish completely.
- Consistency: You can alter the consistency of the cauliflower kurma gravy by increasing or reducing water. It should have a medium thick consistency and so do not make it too thick or runny.
- Herbs: You can also add a sprig of curry leaves to the initial tempering. I have not used since I did not have.
- Instant pot: This can be made in the instant pot with 1 minute cooking time (high pressure) and manual pressure release after 1 minute. But the quantity of water has to be reduced.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1½ tbsp oil or as needed
- 2 cup cauliflower florets (heaped cup, 250 grams florets)
- ¾ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup onions finely chopped (or paste from boiled onions)
- 1 green chili slit
- ½ cup tomatoes chopped, mashed or pureed
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional, adjust to taste)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1¼ to 1½ cups water (adjust as needed)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or mint leaves, pudina (finely chopped)
- 12 cashew nuts or 1½ tbsp poppy seeds or roasted chana dal (refer notes)
- ¼ cup coconut (or ¼ cup thick yogurt or coconut milk)
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf or ¼ to ⅓ teaspoon ground fennel, optional)
- 1 small bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- ½ star anise (chakri phool)
- 3 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 1 inch cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon or ½ inch cassia)
- 3 cloves (laung)
- 1 strand mace (javitri)
- Cleaning – Cut the cauliflower florets to desired sizes and spray vinegar and drizzle some salt. Let them site for 5 minutes. This step helps to get rid of some of the pesticide residue in the cauliflower.
- Meanwhile heat 4 cups water in a pot until slightly hot and not boiling hot. Add the cauliflower florets and turn off the heat. Let the florets rest in water for 2 to 3 mins.
- Drain the water and rinse the florets in fresh running water. Set aside to drain in a colander. Blanching is done here to get rid of the worms or insects in the cauliflower and can be skipped.
- Add cashews, fennel seeds and coconut to a grinder jar. Make a fine paste adding 4 to 6 tablespoons of water. Ensure the paste is smooth. [If using yogurt or coconut milk in place of fresh coconut, you will need lesser water. ]
How to make cauliflower kurma
- Pour oil to a heavy bottom pan and heat it. When the oil is slightly hot, add star anise, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, mace (optional) and bay leaf. Let them sizzle for 30 seconds or so the aroma comes out.
- Add onions and green chili. Saute until the onions turn light golden.
- Next add ginger garlic paste and fry this as well till the raw smell disappears.
- Add tomatoes and salt. Fry till the tomatoes turn mushy and soft. If the tomatoes are not juicy, little water can be sprinkled while frying.
- Throw in all the spice powders – red chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the ground paste. Mix well and saute until the mixture smells aromatic.
- Add peas and cauliflower. Mix and saute for 4 to 5 more minutes. Add water just enough to bring the cauliflower kurma to a consistency.
- Next cook covered till the cauliflower is done to your liking. Stir every few minutes to prevent the kurma sticking to the pan.
- Add chopped coriander or mint leaves when the gravy reaches the desired consistency.
- Keep cauliflower kurma covered until served.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Cauliflower kurma recipe first published in April 2015. Updated and republished in April 2021.