Vadouvan

Appetizer

Vadouvan-Scented Carrot Raita

Makes about 2 cups.

Savory Vadouvan balances & enlivens sweet carrots in this yogurt-based dip. Serve it with cooked vegetables, crudités, flatbreads, or hearty crackers.

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled (about 8 ounces), sliced in 1/8-inch-thick “coins”
4 teaspoons Vadouvan
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 lemon
Salt & black pepper
1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt

Chile flakes & nigella or black sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers add the carrots & stir them to coat with oil. Add a generous pinch of salt & pepper; cover the pan & cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan & stir the carrots; cover the pan again & cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender & slightly caramelized.

Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Vadouvan & cook for another minute or two. Stir in the zest & juice of half the lemon. Let the carrot mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

Put the carrots into the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Add the yogurt & remaining teaspoon of olive oil, plus another pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Taste, add more salt or more lemon juice, to taste. Before serving, garnish the top with a sprinkling of chile flakes & the nigella or sesame seeds.

[Sidebar]

Vadouvan is a masala (or curry) blend with colonial roots — it’s a sort of flavor mnemonic that evokes the taste of dishes eaten abroad more mildly recreated at home, in this case Pondicherry summoned in France. The blend includes aromatics such as onion & garlic. Key spices are fenugreek, cumin & shallots.

Side

La Pluie Roasted Cauliflower with Coconut Chutney

Serves 4 as a side. Recipe courtesy of chef Joshua Lewin of Juliet Restaurant

Make this cauliflower on its own as an easy, weeknight side or make with the chutney (recipe follows) for an elevated dish!

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons La Pluie
1 teapsoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450˚ F (a high heat oven is ideal, but it’s OK to roast at a lower temp if you’re using your oven for another dish at the same time). Set out a sheet pan.

Remove the stem and cut cauliflower into medium florets. In a large bowl, toss it with olive oil until evenly coated.

Roast until the florets are fully cooked and well browned, but not mushy. (Rotate the pan once during the roasting if the florets are not browning evenly.)

Put the roasted cauliflower back in the bowl and season with La Pluie, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Serve with coconut chutney on the side.

Coconut Chutney
This chutney is a beautiful mix of cool and hot flavors, with creamy and exciting bits of spices. Chutney is good for other roast vegetables, chicken, or fish.

10 ounces coconut milk
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
2 limes, juiced (or 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon mustard oil (optional)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup dry split chickpeas (channa dal)
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 Thai chili, whole
1 Fresno or jalapeño pepper, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon La Pluie
1 teaspoon Vadouvan

Combine coconut with citrus juice and cilantro in blender or food processor, process until very smooth.

In a small skillet, heat the oils, then add chickpeas. When they start to lightly brown, add mustard seed and chilies, and when they pop, add the spices to quickly toast.

Add chickpea-spice mix immediately to blender and pulse just a few times (should retain plenty of texture).