This authentic Sri Lankan recipe for cauliflower mallung is perfect for that spare head of cauliflower you might have lurking in your vegetable box.
This Sri Lankan cauliflower recipe is easy, quick and healthy and will transform your head of cauliflower into something magnificently delicious.
When it comes to Sri Lankan vegetarian food, this authentic recipe for cauliflower mallung is easy to make. The spices cling to the crevices of each cauliflower floret giving this dish an incredible depth of flavour.
A home-style authentic Sri Lankan recipe for cauliflower
When I headed home to visit my parents for a regular helping Sri Lankan curry. They always served up a vegetable mallung. The mallung added freshness and bite and helped cut through the rich, spice-laden meat dishes my parents loved to cook.
There are variations of this recipe from across Sri Lanka and India. Mallung, mallum, thoran or poriyal are dry vegetable curries, stir-fried in spices with onion and laced with coconut.
Rambutan, the Sri Lankan restaurant near Borough Market does a rather lovely mutton poriyal. So not limited to vegetables.
Traditional Sri Lankan recipes for mallung are versatile. Leafy green vegetables such as kale and cabbage make excellent mallungs. This recipe works brilliantly with cauliflower or broccoli. And believe it or not, Brussels sprouts. Sprouts are finely sliced with a mandolin. I assure you, any sprout hater will become a sprout lover when they taste sprouts cooked the Sri Lankan way!
What’s the secret to an authentic Sri Lankan cauliflower malling?
The secret to getting this authentic recipe for Sri Lankan cauliflower mallung right? It’s about getting your onions soft, browning at the edges, to exude their natural sweetness.
Now the controversial bit. Fish.
I always add Maldive fish to my mallungs. The Maldive fish adds an umami quality giving the dish another layer of flavour. I’ve yet to find a vegetarian or vegan alternative. To make this a plant-based recipe skip the fish.
You’ll find Maldive fish in Sri Lankan grocery stores or online in stores like the Asian Cook Shop.
What you shouldn’t skip is the lime. The fresh lime is an important addition elevating this humble side and bringing out the flavours of the spices.
Now you’ve cooked this cauliflower recipe, what should you eat with it?
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Maldive fish (optional)
- A generous helping of curry leaves (around 10 -12)
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 400g cauliflower florets finely sliced
- 4 tsp desiccated coconut
- 1 green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped (optional)
- Juice of a fresh lime
- Heat the oil in a solid-based frying pan.
- Add the whole spices, the Maldive fish, curry leaves and chilli, and heat until the spices start to crackle.
- Add the onion and turmeric and cook until the onions are soft and transparent. Stir so the turmeric evenly coats the onion.
- Now add the cauliflower florets. Cook the cauliflower until soft. Keep stirring and tossing so the spices and onion can coat the cauliflower.
- Add the coconut, chilli and salt. Again stir through, and cook until the coconut just starts to turn golden brown.
- Finish off with a squeeze of lime and serve with rice and a curry or two of your choice. Me? I’d have a creamy beetroot curry and perhaps a simple dhal. You can’t beat that!