This is how I cook these Cauliflower Balls with Feta Cheese and Curry: after I shape the cauliflower balls and while I briefly sauté them, I pour myself a beer. Holding the glass with the cold beer in one hand and the spatula in the other, I flip the balls; then I transfer them to the baking sheet to finish in the oven.
When they are done, I am already halfway through my beer, my kitchen smells of curry and my mouth is salivating at the thought of what is next. I have to push myself to wait, which I usually don’t, so I eat them steaming hot. And having eaten one, walked away and come back several times, I really have to force myself to stop, because hey, this is a crowd-pleaser. And I am always making them when I have people coming over.
So go on and make these golden crust beauties and let the party begin; guests are optional. And did I mention the dip? Sweet and Sour Tomato Dip chutney-style, yeah, that’s it. Because you need sweet and sour and tomatoes to match the curry awesomeness of these tender, savoury bites of cauliflower.
Cauliflower Balls with Feta Cheese and Curry
If you taste the cauliflower after roasting in step 1, you will likely find it rather bland. Do not be tempted to add more salt though, as with the addition of the feta cheese in step 2, the final cauliflower balls will be perfectly salted.
You can substitute feta cheese with any cheese you like, in the same amount in grams. E.g. grated parmesan cheese or crumbled blue cheese. In this case, you will have to judge the salt you add, depending on the saltiness of the cheese you use.
If you want a shortcut, you may omit the sautéing process in step 4. In this case, directly bake the cauliflower balls in the oven, adding 10 minutes to the total baking time Just keep in mind that the brief sautéing process adds extra flavour and a golden crust to the cauliflower balls..
The recipe at a glance:
(detailed instructions follow)
❶ Roughly chop the cauliflower and mix with the onion, carrot, salt, pepper, curry and olive oil. Roast for 1 hour. Let cool.
❷ Chop in a food processor till fine. Put in a bowl and add the parmesan, flour and beaten egg. Mix well, cover, and leave in the refrigerator to set.
❸ Shape into 4 cm (1.5 in.) balls.
❹ In a large skillet, over medium to high heat, cook the cauliflower balls for 3 minutes till browned, flipping once. Transfer to a pan lined with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes in the oven.
- 1,000 g fresh cauliflower, stalk trimmed (from about 1,500 gr whole cauliflower)
- 80 g onion, finely chopped
- 100 g peeled carrot, grated
- 1 1/2 tsp curry powder (preferably Madras)
- neutral flavoured vegetable oil, like sunflower oil or canola oil, for sautéing (as needed)
Step 1 – Prepare the Vegetables
Preheat the oven to 180º C (350º F).
With a large, sharp knife, chop the cauliflower in roughly 2,5 cm pieces (1 in.).
On a large, shallow baking dish, put the cauliflower, chopped onion, grated carrot, salt, pepper and curry powder. Mix well, add the olive oil and stir to coat.
Cover with another baking dish (or aluminium foil) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes stirring once midway through baking.
After 30 minutes, remove the cover and continue baking for 20-30 minutes more, or until the vegetables have been cooked through and slightly caramelised at the corners.
Stir well every 10′ to ensure uniform roasting.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
Prepare ahead: you can put the roasted vegetables in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days.
Step 2 – Prepare the Cauliflower
Finely chop the cauliflower in a food processor:
Do not overload the food processor; working in batches is the best way to gain the right consistency.
You aim to create cauliflower pieces the size of a rice grain, not to puree it.
To achieve this, fill the food processor halfway with the roasted cauliflower, pulse 2-3 times for 2 seconds, stop the food processor, scrape the sides and bottom with a silicone spatula and pulse for 3 seconds more.
Put the finely chopped cauliflower in a large bowl.
Add the feta cheese and the flour to the rest of the ingredients and give a good, thorough stir.
Add the egg and stir well.
Cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour for the ingredients to blend.
Prepare ahead: put in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Note that in this case, the roasted vegetables should not have been stored for more than 1 day, as mentioned in the “prepare ahead” section of Step 1.
Step 3 – Make the Cauliflower Balls
When ready to cook, remove the bowl from the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 180º C (350º F).
Line a tray with baking paper.
Shape the cauliflower mix into about 4 cm (1.5 in.) balls and lay them on the tray.
Tip: Washing and patting your hands dry every 4-5 balls will make it easier.
When they are all shaped, wash and pat your hands dry and tightly shape each ball, firmly, but gently, with both hands to help it hold its shape.
Step 4 – Bake the Cauliflower Balls Balls with Feta Cheese and Curry
Pour a thin layer of oil into a large skillet and warm over medium to high heat.
Lower the heat to medium and add the cauliflower balls to the skillet, leaving 2-3 cm (1 in. ) space between each one.
You may need to work in 2 batches.
Let them cook for 3 minutes uncovered, or until they take a light brown hue at the bottom; carefully flip them upside down with a spatula and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Place on the lined tray, leaving 2-3 cm (1 in. ) space between each one and put in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until baked through (no need to flip during baking).
Repeat with the rest of the Cauliflower Balls.
Let them cool at room temperature.
Note that while warm, they are fragile and break easily. They will firm up as they cool.
Prepare ahead: You can prepare them 2-3 days before serving and store in the fridge, in an airtight container.
Remove from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before serving and let them come to room temperature.