the taste space

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 2, 2013

With limited time, I have been trying to multi-task. Studying on the subway to work… picking up groceries after my weekend work-out… and even combining social activities with cooking. While still cooking the majority of my meals on the weekend, I have invited friends to come over and help cook. Cooking + friends = fun times! Leftovers are good for me, too!  While I usually make 2 dishes and a dressing each week, I try to pare my menu down when friends are over. One dish only. Preferably a recipe I know tastes good.

This is another one of Rob’s Repeater Recipes. Whenever we see cauliflower on sale, this is what tugs at our tummies. Red lentils envelope chunks of cauliflower in this quick curry. Of course, what separates each curry is the specific spice blend and this uses Bangladesh’s signature spice mix: panch phoran (Bengali 5 spice mix). You might remember it from my Bengali Quinoa and Spinach Bowl with the simple combination of cumin, fennel, nigella, fenugreek and mustard seeds. For this version, I stole some cauliflower to make (Baked!) Lemon Cilantro Pakoras and swapped in additional zucchini.

I love it when Rob helps out in the kitchen, and he has really taken to sharing his Indian cooking tips with my friends. We’ve also made Dal Bhat and the Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime at other times, highlighting simple and tasty Indian home cooking. These are all lessons from Indian Cooking 101.. what will Indian Cooking 102 include?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s No Crouton Challenge for Indian spices and this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan

1.5 cups red lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp coconut oil (or oil of choice)
3 tbsp panch phoran (or use 1.5 tsp each of: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups homemade pureed tomatoes (or 15 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (we used half cauliflower and 300g zucchini for this batch. note: I prefer all cauliflower)
1/2 cup water

1. Rinse lentils and drain. In a medium pot, add lentils, water and turmeric. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, around 15-30 minutes. Once cooked, add salt and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the remainder of your ingredients. In a large non-stick deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add panch phoran and stir to infuse the oil. Cover and allow mustard seeds to pop. When the clinking stops, add the onion, garlic, chile flakes and ginger. Saute until onion is softened, around 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower (and optional zucchini) and water. Stir to combine. Cover skillet and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, around 10 minutes.

3. Once both the cauliflower and lentils are finished, add the lentils to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, taste and adjust salt and pepper. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Serve with rice or scoop up with naan.

Serves 6.

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35 Responses

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  1. Johanna GGG said, on April 2, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    I made this once but it was a bit low on spice for me (and I am not spice fiend) but I think I remember that the lentils and cauliflower went together superbly. Great one dish meal and one that would go down well for sharing!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 2, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      Hey Johanna, Yeah, the first time we made it we tripled the spices by mistake but it was great… so we keep making it with more spices. I also think it would be underflavoured with Susan’s suggestion. ;)

  2. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table said, on April 2, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    I wish I could take a subway to work! If I’m not multi-tasking I get a little annoyed. It could be the ADD. Lol!

    Cauliflower makes me do a happy dance. I have it packed for lunch today!

  3. Camilla said, on April 2, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Hi there, the linky is on it’s way,so will tweet when it’s up and running! You dish is an absolute winner for taste, nutrition and frugality. Thank you for entering such a beautiful dish to Credit Crunch Munch:-)

  4. Chez Foti said, on April 2, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    This looks like a wonderful curry, my absolute favourite way of eating cauliflower!. I made my own panch phoran mix recently and really must try this. Thanks!

  5. Eileen said, on April 2, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    This sounds amazing! Cauliflower and lentils, together at last. :) And I don’t mind having the excuse to go seek out some new-to-me spices (panch phoran and/or nigella seeds, in this case) either!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 3, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      Haha, new spices are always fun when you have a new recipe. I bet this would be fine even without nigella seeds, too. :)

  6. Joanne said, on April 2, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    I wish my friends wanted to cook with me more often! It’s definitely the perfect way to multi-task :) LOVE how super flavorful this is and that it has two of my favorite things – cauliflower and lentils!

  7. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts said, on April 3, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    Lentils and cauliflower sound like a great match, and one I’ve had surprisingly rarely. I might need to rectify that!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 3, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      Yeah, I wouldn’t have pictured them together either but they work really well. Even better than zucchini, imho. :)

  8. Ellen Lederman said, on April 3, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    I have a similar cauliflower recipe, but it doesn’t have red lentils, so I will definitely have to make this.

    I’m actually in dire need of a recipe for Friday—making dinner for some new veggie friends. They are Buddhist/Taoist and don’t eat onions/scallions/leeks/garlic. They are Malaysian and do like spicy/Asian food. Any suggestions? Almost all recipes, like this one, call for at least some onion….

  9. tinykitchenstories said, on April 3, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    LOVE panch phoran! Another great recipe.

  10. Ellen Lederman said, on April 3, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Janet, thanks so much for all the suggestions. I know how busy you are, so I really appreciate your taking the time to link to all these (some of these recipes I’ve missed and am definitely going to try for myself). Chose the vanilla sweet potato and kale curry—seemed to be the one that could most easily lose the garlic.

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 4, 2013 at 7:48 AM

      Thanks… It is times like that that I wish I had a recipe index. :) Sorry about the cluttered list but I figured it was easier for me that way… and what I could manage post-exam brain fog. ;)

  11. Camilla said, on April 4, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Hi Janet, please add you dish to the Credit Crunch Munch linky which is up and running:-)

  12. Hannah said, on April 4, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    I fricking love panch phora (I’ve never used the n, what what!), but I think only have one recipe with it on my blog. This looks scrumptious!

    But make sure you’re scheduling some actual down-time right now too, yeah? x

    • janet @ the taste space said, on April 4, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      Oooh.. I will have to search yours out, then… to give me 3 dishes. We actually make this one a lot, though. :)

  13. […] wasn’t expecting this week to be all about tried-and-true favourites, but I don’t think you […]

  14. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on April 7, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    I loved when Rob was teaching us about all the spices when I was over to cook :) I wish I had someone like hi in my kitchen all the time! haha This looks amazing as always!

  15. Deb in Hawaii said, on April 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    I love how creamy and good this looks. I am not that familiar with panch phoran but it sounds like I need to mix some up–I love all of the components. Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays. ;-)

  16. […] daunted by a special diet request, I mustered up a few suggestions (Raw Zucchini Alfredo, Raw Tacos skipping the onion in the salsa, Thai Tempeh Wraps with a […]

  17. Jacqueline said, on April 26, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Hi Janet,

    I love your dal. I always make the same dal, so I am going to try this one next time. I love the extra veg in it.

    Thanks for adding it to this month’s No Croutons Required. The Indian Spices roundup is now live.

    • Jacqueline said, on April 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      Haha, I must be going mad. You have been over already, so why I told you it is up I don’t know. I am defiitely losing my marbles :)

      • janet @ the taste space said, on April 26, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        No worries! Now when I go back to this dal, I will always have a link to the round-up with so many other dals to try. :)

  18. […] at The Taste Space brought us this very tempting looking Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran that makes great use of red lentils which are really frugal and […]

  19. Chris said, on May 5, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    What a lovely recipe. I have to eat more cauliflower, I guess.

  20. […] healthy – what more could you want? I highly recommend her Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale, Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran, Curried Beans and Quinoa with Baby Bok Choy, Iraqi Eggplant and Seitan Stew, Creamy Cashew Kale […]

  21. […] getting its time in the limelight. Is cauliflower the new kale? Roasted, riced, pureed, mashed, curried, I have done it all. The last one on my hit-list was to make cauliflower […]

  22. […] of my favourites have already been shared  (Tamarind Lentils, Bengali Cauliflower Dal, Creamy Broccoli Dal, and Root Veggie Curry), so it does not surprise me to share yet another easy, […]


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