Believed to have originated in ancient Asia Minor, the cauliflower has undergone many transformations. It was popular in Europe, specifically in France in the 16th-century and loved in the court of Louis XIV, holding an honourable place in the kitchen garden because of their delicacy.
Roasting or frying brings out the lovely nutty flavours. The texture is great in a curry or in fritters and look out for varieties at farmers’ markets such as Romanesco, a vivid green cauliflower with spiralled florets and purple cauliflowers that keep their colour when cooked. The traditional white or creamy coloured cauliflowers are equally tasty.
Cauliflower and Caraway fritters with wild garlic yoghurt
Slice and chop 2 or 3 leaves of wild garlic, mix well in a bowl with 300g thick, natural yoghurt, salt and two tbsp rapeseed oil, taste, and leave in the fridge to chill. Cut 1 small cauliflower into florets and place into a pan of boiling salted water. Simmer until just tender but still with a little bite. Drain well and toss with a tbsp of rapeseed oil. While the cauliflower is cooking, finely chop 1 garlic clove and 2 small shallots and mix together with 120g of plain flour, 4 eggs, 2 tsp allspice, 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, 11⁄2 tsp salt and 3 tbsp of chopped parsley to make a batter. Get a pan really hot and toast 2 tsp caraway seeds until it is giving off a good smell, but don’t let it burn. Remove the caraway then put the cauliflower in the same pan. Let it catch so it has dark brown bits all Cockles over. This really emphasises the flavour. Add the cauliflower and caraway to the batter. Use a wooden spoon to break up the cauliflower and mix in well. Pour 500ml sunflower oil into a pan to a depth of about 2cm. Make sure the pan is no more than two thirds full with oil. Get the oil hot and then spoon in portions of the cauliflower batter, about 2 tbsps per fritter. Cook in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 3–4 minutes, until golden brown on each side. When cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve with some of the yoghurt drizzled over. This can be a main course, as part of a meze or stuffed into a flatbread for a snack.