Just finished devouring our vadouvan French-style curry chicken and cardamom-spiced rice and left with all these delicious spices? Try our vadouvan cauliflower and eggplant casserole.
This combination of spices, which originates from the Southeastern city of Puducherry, is nutty, spicy, and fragrant. Using traditional Indian techniques, we have created this beautifully savory dish to raise your spirits this winter!
Essential Spices for Vadouvan Curry Powder
- Curry leaves
- Fenugreek seeds
- Green cardamom pods
- Brown mustard seeds
- Red chili powder
Storage of Spices
The shelf-life of whole spices is up to 4 years, whereas the shelf-life for ground spices is up to 3 years. Be sure to verify that your spices are not expired. When storing your spices, store them in airtight containers in a cool dark place. This step will ensure that the spices stay fresh for the maximum time.
Toasting the Spices
The combination of vadouvan spices packs a ton of beautiful flavors. Toast the spices in a dry sauté pan at medium-low heat to enhance those flavors by releasing their natural oils. You may toast both ground spices and whole spices. Wait until the pan is hot, and then add the spices.
When they appear intensely aromatic, they are ready for use. The toasting process should only take 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be careful not to burn them. You do not want a burnt taste to appear in the dish. Note that ground spices are more prone to burning than whole spices. If you opt for turmeric root and whole nutmeg, use a microplane to produce fine grains.
While this recipe contains both ground and whole spices, you may opt for all whole spices in the amounts identified below. The technique of toasting the spices described above also rings true for toasting the green cardamom pods for the spiced rice.
Classic Indian Technique
In developing the vadouvan curry base, sauté the onions and garlic very slowly in butter on low heat. They should softly bubble but not burn. As you add the spices, they will turn into a fragrant jam of onions and garlic.
The purpose of this method is to draw the flavors out of the spices. This cooking process is slow and will take approximately 30-40 minutes before adding the chicken. Be patient with this process. Time is required to allow the flavors to develop.
If the spices begin to stick to the bottom of your pan, don’t worry. This result is expected. Stir intermittently throughout the cooking process but do not stir too much as this will prevent the onions from lightly caramelizing.
How to Adjust the Spice Level
This dish possesses mild heat. If you prefer spicy curry dishes that will make you sweat, we sympathize! In this case, I suggest adding two to four green chiles to the onions and garlic to add an extra kick.
How to Eat It
- Spoon it atop Indian roti or naan.
- Dollop it over basmati rice.
- Serve with seasoned tomatoes and quick-pickled cucumbers.
- Roll it into a lettuce wrap and garnish it with cilantro.
Reheating and Storage
Store leftover cauliflower and eggplant in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You may consume it for up to 5 days. To reheat the dish, place it in the microwave at 70% for 1 minute.
Vadouvan (French-style Curry) Cauliflower and Eggplant Casserole
Vadouvan Spice Blend
- 1 eggplant
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Patak's mild curry paste optional
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
1. Preheat Oven and Chop the Vegetables
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- Cut a circle around the center of the base of the cauliflower to remove the florets (flowers). Once you have separated the large florets, further separate each floret into its tiny flowers. Cut the remaining pieces into paysanne cuts. It is essential to cut the cauliflower into small pieces to ensure they cook evenly compared to the eggplant and onions.
- Dice the onion, cube the eggplant, finely chop flatleaf parsley, and roughly chop garlic. Set aside.
2. Toast and Grind Spices
- Combine curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, cardamom pods, ground cumin, brown mustard seeds, turmeric powder, ground nutmeg, red chili powder, and cloves in a mixing bowl.
- Place a sauté pan on the stovetop at medium-low heat. Add spices and toast them by moving them around the pan for 5 minutes.
- Pour spices into an electric spice or coffee grinder. You may also use a mortar and pestle. Grind ingredients.
3. Sauté Onions and Add Spices
- Place a large oven-proof pan on the stovetop at medium heat. Once the butter melts, turn the heat on the stovetop down to medium-low. Add onions and garlic.
- Cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the onions do not stick.
- Add ground spices, stir and, cook onions for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Coat Vegetables with Curry and Tomato Paste Mix
- Add the cauliflower and eggplant. Stir.
- Combine olive oil, Patak’s curry paste, and tomato paste in a mixing bowl and stir ingredients together.
- Add Vadouvan curry powder and tomato paste mixture to the pot and coat vegetables with it. Sprinkle in salt and flatleaf parsley. Stir.
- Cook the vegetables for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Cook in the Oven for 30 Minutes
- Cover the oven-proof pan (or pour vegetables into an oven-proof casserole dish and cover with foil or lid) and place the pan in the oven.
- Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Serve and enjoy.