Adapted from “Canal House Cooking Volume No. 5” by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
Makes:4 to 6 servings
This vegetarian main dish was adapted from one found in the fifth volume of Canal House Cooking. Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, the creators of Canal House, learned this dish from Niloufer King, a talented Indian cook and scholar. To make it a heartier, protein-rich meal, we took the liberty of folding in some lightly seared tofu.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan with a tightfitting lid over medium heat until shimmering. Add the fennel seeds and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the frying pan with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, and a large pinch of salt and cook, dribbling in a little water, 1 to 2 tablespoons, as you stir. Add the chickpeas, cauliflower, and the remaining 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the flour in a large bowl. Place the tofu cubes on paper towels, pat dry, and season all over with salt and pepper. Toss the tofu in the flour until coated. Heat a second large frying pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tofu, tapping off any excess flour first, and brown on all sides, being careful of splattering oil, about 9 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with more salt.
When the cauliflower is ready, gently fold in the tofu, cilantro, and lime juice. Serve immediately with rice, yogurt, naan, or chapati, if desired.