THERE is some great British produce in the shops at the moment and one of my staple, seasonal favourites is without doubt the cauliflower. Inexpensive, incredible versatile and locally produced, cauliflowers can be used in a variety of dishes and prepared in numerous ways.

A firm, waxy texture and mild flavour means that cauliflower also takes well to strong, bold flavours making it an ideal ingredient in many Indian and Middle Eastern dishes that use plenty of chillies and spices.

Back on home soil, cauliflower has also recently seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to the health food bloggers who’ve praised its carb-swap credentials and low calorific value. Think cauliflower puree (in place of mashed potatoes), cauliflower rice and even cauliflower pizza bases.

When preparing cauliflower, be careful not to overcook it. Not only does overcooked cauliflower smell incredibly bad (remember school dinners and grandma’s boiled-to-death veggies) but it also zaps all the essential nutrients.

An excellent source of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals, cooking this vegetable for just 30 minutes or more is thought to decrease its nutritional value by 75 per cent.

When buying cauliflower, look for really white and creamy centres which indicates freshness. Avoid any that are discoloured or soft with wilted leaves.

This week’s recipe is super tasty and packed with oriental flavours. The crispy coating contrasts beautifully with the soft, creamy centre and the sweet, spicy sauce turns it into a real taste sensation! It can be served as part of a tapas selection, as a starter or as part of a main meal served with some rice and additional steamed veggies, meat or fish. It’s also vegan-friendly so it’s an all-round winner.


(serves 2-4)

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

150g plain flour or gluten free flour

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

200ml water or unsweetened soya/nut milk

Vegetable oil for frying

For the sauce

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3cm piece of fresh ginger, minced

3 tbsp honey or brown sugar

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

½ tsp Chinese five spice

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

3 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix together the flour, garlic powder, baking powder and salt and steadily pour in the water or milk, whisking continuously as you do so to create a smooth batter. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the cauliflower but if it seems a little stiff add a bit more water. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the sesame oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and ginger and gently fry for a minute or two then add the honey, rice wine vinegar, five spice, chilli, soy sauce and tomato puree. Stir everything together and simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Set aside and allow the sauce to thicken a little more while you cook the cauliflower.

Toss the cauliflower in the batter until well coated.

Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or large pan to 175c/350F. Cook the cauliflower for 4-5 minutes until golden and crispy. You might need to do this in batches - don’t overcrowd the pan otherwise they won’t cook evenly.

Drain the cauliflower on kitchen paper to remove excess oil then add to a bowl and toss in a little salt. Drizzle over the sauce and top with toasted sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve with some boiled rice or noodles.