Though Indian food has a reputation for long-simmered sauces and complicated dishes involving fleets of bowls with chopped herbs, aromatics, and spices, a great deal of what you typically find on many lunch tables can come together in a matter of minutes. Stir-fries are actually a common feature of the Indian lunch menu.
This simple dish of broccoli sautéed with a few spices in some coconut oil perfectly embodies the kind of easy-to-put-together dish that most Indian home cooks keep in their repertoire for everyday lunches. Though broccoli isn’t a staple part of the Indian pantry, it takes to this treatment well. And though you’d commonly eat similar stir-fried vegetables (think radishes, summer squashes, cabbage, cauliflower) as part of a spread that usually included a dhal, a curry of some sort, and some kind of bread or grain, I often allow myself a little puritanical treat and enjoy this tender, pilaf-like sauté with a big dollop of whatever the day’s gravy is on the side.
A note on ricing broccoli: The idea of “ricing” broccoli smacks of the kind of well-intentioned but often ill-advised culinary genius that takes perfectly delicious vegetables and contorts them into second-rate facsimiles of other less-“virtuous” ingredients. Abandon any preconceived notions about ricing broccoli, though, and enjoy this dish not as a rice substitute but as a perfectly delicious, fresh vegetable sauté. Also, a practical note: if you don’t have a food processor you can achieve much the same effect with the wide holes of a box grater.
Riced Broccoli with Almonds
3 heads broccoli, washed, crown broken into florets, stalks peeled with a knife and cut into 1-inch chunks
2–3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
¼ cup toasted skin-on almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp red chile flakes
Sea salt to taste
Working in small batches, place the broccoli in the work bowl of a food processor, and process the broccoli till reduced to a fine-grained mixture resembling rice. As you finish each batch, transfer the contents of the food processor into a bowl. Continue till you’ve finished all the broccoli. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat the coconut oil in a 12-inch stainless-steel or nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.
Add the caraway seeds, cumin, black mustard, red chile flakes, and almonds. Stir frequently until you begin to smell the spices and the almonds develop a burnished gold color. Take care not to let the spices or nuts burn.
Using a spatula, empty the broccoli into the pan. Stir well, and add a large pinch of salt.
Raise the heat to high and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 2–3 minutes, just till the broccoli is tender but still retains its bright green color.
Check for seasoning and add salt as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably with a hearty serving of Chicken in Preserved Lime, Herb, and Tomato Sauce.