Cauliflower, Red Pepper Sabji
I fondly think of this recipe as "Yamuna's Secret Weapon". I was fortunate enough to be in her kitchen while she was making this prep, which isn't included in any of her published cookbooks.
I call it the 'secret weapon' because it slays the taste buds of the most discerning (or fussy) eater. As Srila Prabhupada said, "Cooking means if you have no appetite, it will create appetite. That is cooking, not that simply some ghee and masala and cook it. No. It is a great art." (Room Conversation, 02-19-77, Mayapur)
Yamuna devi was definitely practicing her great art when she came up with this recipe. There's something mysterious that happens when you combine cauliflower, red pepper and cilantro in a cream cheese base. Wonderful flavours are released, and the dish becomes a beautiful offering to Lord Krsna.
This is also a secret weapon because it's one of the most opulent sabjis I know of that's super fast to prepare. While Yamuna did her version in a wok-like cooker, I do mine in the oven because I'm always in need to stovetop space when cooking a feast. Being able to prepare a nice sabji well ahead of time and cook it in the oven is so convenient.
2 large Cauliflower
4 large Red Peppers
1 bunch fresh Cilantro
1 tsp. Jaggery
Ghee or olive oil
12 oz. Cream Cheese
Coarse Black Pepper
Break the cauliflower down into medium and large florets. You don't want small pieces, as they disintegrate while cooking. Lay them out on a baking tray and brush or spray well with ghee or olive oil. Put them in the oven at 500 degrees F until they're nicely browned, and slightly blackened at spots. You'll want to flip them once, adding more oil as needed.
Meanwhile, core the red peppers and slice them into long, thin strips. Clean the cilantro, toss out the big stems, and coarsely chop.
Put about 1/8 cup water in the bottom of a roasting pan. Next add the sliced red peppers, then the cauliflower.
Cut the cream cheese up into chunks, layering some between the peppers and cauliflower, and the rest on top.
Sprinkle a little jaggery and a lot of black pepper throughout. Toss the cilantro on top. Done. The picture above shows the prep ready to go into the oven.
Bake the sabji for about 1-1/2 hours at 375 degrees F. Occasionally bring it out of the oven and very gently turn the mixture so that the cream cheese mixes nicely with the other ingredients. Try to keep the pieces of cauliflower as intact as possible.
The sabji is finished when the cream cheese is completely melted, the peppers are soft, and the top is golden brown. Offer to the Lord with great devotion, and distribute to the happy devotees.
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