What’s the link between the pungent, unmistakable taste of cilantro and coriander? Well, they are from the same plant, the only species I know that has two different names for various stages of growth! I love sprinkling the fresh green leaves, known as cilantro, on a dish just before serving. They are great plants to let flower and go to seed in the garden as food for our little pollinator friends. And they are not the only ones who enjoy them. Organic seeds are hard to come by here in Jamaica, so we reserve a few of the berries for replanting, and we also dry and store some of the little spice balls, known as coriander, to add to curries, stews, soups and sauces. Earlier this year, my niece Lauren, who designed the gorgeous illustrations in My Goodness! Greens, came to Jamaica from the US for the launch of my cookbook with her partner Luke, a food writer and photographer. My daughter, Robyn the photographer of the book made the trip as well. A sweet get together and celebration of our hard work ensued. The whole family pitched in to prepare the tastings and cocktails for the book launch and much of the talk was about food. As we walked in the kitchen garden collecting leafy greens and herbs for our recipes, I noticed Luke collecting the green berries from the cilantro bushes. He brought them in to the kitchen nibbling a few on the way! I had never tried the green berries before but as soon as I did, I fell in love with the fresh burst of intense cilantro taste.
Those were the young, bright and promising days of 2020 before Covid 19, and seem so long ago. Thanks to Wattsapp, we can see and keep in close contact with family and friends. Until we can be together with family again, it is in our kitchens that many of us find comfort for our troubled hearts. I find solace in cooking and am always looking for new and interesting ways to use the greens, vegetables, herbs and spices that we grow in our kitchen garden. Luke’s green cilantro berries, added to my cauliflower rice and cooling raita recipes in My Goodness! Greens, provided the inspiration for this crispy spiced cauliflower ‘cake’. I’ve topped it with thin slices of creamy avocado, simply referred to locally, as pear. The appearance of the first avocados of the season are much sought after and herald ‘pear time’ in Jamaica. The creamy, slightly sweet yet savoury fruit promise abundance at breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time. You’ll find pear nestled in hardough bread, tucked up in bulla (sweet type bun), placed in neat slices alongside a main meal, diced in salads, even atop soups and stews. Baby amaranth leaves join the avocado on top of our cauliflower cakes because I love the fresh earthy taste and beautiful deep purple colour against the lemon yellow of the avocado. A few pale lavender chive flowers, a sprinkle of chili flakes, lime zest and a dollop of cooling raita bring all the flavours together. Cauliflower is a great neutral base, so just switch out your spices and toppings to create whole new flavours with these little cakes. I made this recipe a few weeks ago, and noted it here as I remember it and hope you enjoy. For many more wholesome kitchen and garden recipes, get your copy of My Goodness! Greens cookbook available right here on our home page. Grow Gather Cook Create Eat!
SPICED CAULIFLOWER CAKE WITH AVOCADO, AMARANTH AND RAITA RAITA Make the raita and place in the fridge until ready to use. 1 cucumber - peeled, seeded and diced into small cubes and placed on a paper towel to absorb any liquid 1⁄2 cup plain unsweetened whole yogurt strained to remove liquid (save the whey to add to beans when cooking) 1⁄4 t. cumin seeds toasted and ground 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro – finely chopped Pinch ground cayenne – optional Juice and zest of 1 lime Salt & pepper to taste Place the strained yogurt and cucumber in a bowl with the spices, add lime juice and zest. Stir in the cilantro and cayenne, if using, then add the salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
FOR THE CAULIFLOWER CAKES 1 large head cauliflower – baked, grilled or steamed until soft – drain or squeeze out any excess liquid 1 egg beaten 1/3 cup whole milk yogurt (you can use substitute labne, chevre or other creamy cheese for yogurt 1” fresh turmeric – finely grated Pinch of cardamom and cumin 2 stalks scallion – finely chopped Extra virgin olive oil for searing Salt & pepper to taste
FOR THE TOPPING
1 avocado – thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup baby amaranth or your choice of greens – rinsed and dried A few coriander berries
Pinch of chili flakes
Scallion curls and chive flowers for garnish
Lime zest and a little squeeze of lime juice if desired
Place the drained cauliflower in a food processor and pulse to ‘rice’.
Place the cauliflower ‘rice’ in a bowl, add the beaten egg, yogurt, spices, scallion, salt & pepper. Mix well and form into 4 thin, about 1⁄4 “ cakes.
Place a 1 T. olive oil in a sauté pan on medium, high heat. Place the cakes, one at time in the pan. Saute on each side for about 3 mins, just until crispy at the edges but still soft in the middle. Keep the cooked cakes warm, searing in batches one at a time, adding a little oil as necessary.
Plate and add sliced avocado, amaranth leaves, coriander berries, chive flowers, chili flakes. Spoon raita on top with a sprinkle of lime zest and squeeze of lime.