Brunch Special Kongunadu Style Cauliflower Curry
Image Credit: EatWell101

The western part of Tamil Nadu made up of a cluster of regions like Pollachi, Coimbatore, Salem, Mettur, Tirupur and more, is home to a lesser-known style of Tamilian cooking known as Kongunadu cuisine. When compared to Chettinad cuisine, a more popular section of regional cooking, Kongunadu cooking is more cautious in the use of spices and mostly made with gingelly or coconut oil. Ingredients like pepper, jeera and fresh turmeric are used liberally across dishes and meats like country chicken, freshwater fish, rabbit and goat are featured heavily even in home-cooking.

The concept of pairing kolambu, a runny, spicy gravy with vegetables or meat, with dosas or idlis came from these regional cuisines, where folklore suggests that a newly married groom wasn’t served meat for every meal in the bride’s home, while he stayed there. Instead, a tomato or cauliflower kolambu was made to make up for the lack of, during a mid-day meal or for breakfast. This cauliflower kolambu makes for a fantastic meat-free option that tastes equally great with rice, if not eaten as a brunch dish. The robust flavour of the roasted spices with the addition of tamarind and potatoes, to add bulk to the curry, make a case for how satisfying a meal it can be.



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  • 250 grams cauliflower florets
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup baby shallots
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ inch piece cinnamon
  • 3-4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 5 + 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece tamarind
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ cup gingelly oil


  • Heat half the amount of gingelly oil in a pan and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, fennel seeds and black peppercorns. Allow the spices to bloom before tipping in the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red chillies and tamarind.
  • Saute the spice mix for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to release their aroma. Add the five cloves of garlic and about 10 of the curry leaves to the spice mix and let them fry for a minute or two. Throw in the shallots and coat it in the spices and oil; continue to cook this mixture until the shallots begin to soften slightly.
  • Once the shallots are glossy and translucent, add the coconut and toss everything together. Allow the coconut to toast for a few minutes and once they begin to turn brown, add the tomatoes.
  • Season with salt and allow the tomatoes to cook in their released juices. Continue to cook down the mixture until it is completely mushy and the fat begins to separate at the edges. Meanwhile, bring some salted water to a boil and add the potatoes to it. Cook until the potatoes are tender and drain.
  • Once the tomato mixture is ready, take it off the heat and cool down completely before grinding into a smooth paste. Heat the remaining half of gingelly oil in the same pan and allow the curry leaves to crackle. Add the chopped onions and fry them until they are soft. Crush the remaining cloves of garlic with the back of your knife and add it to the cooking onions.
  • Add the turmeric and chilli powder, followed by the potatoes and cauliflower. Mix everything to combine and pour the spice paste back into the pan with vegetables. Add a bit of water to thin the mixture out a bit and season with salt.
  • Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the cauliflower is softened and garnish with plenty of chopped coriander. Serve hot with idli, dosa, rice or parotta.