Cauliflower and Coriander Pilaf



Car boots. Nothing can get me out of bed quicker than the knowledge that I’m going to a car boot sale. I haven’t been to one since September, a disastrous trip out with Ollie, but I seem to have forgotten this, such is my desire for a pizza stone/juicer/pretty plates and table cloths. 

I was under the misapprehension that car boots didn’t start til Easter-time, as is the way in York, but it turns out here some have been going on all winter without my knowing. 

I am awake before seven and up and out of bed with a surge of adrenaline. I wish I was like this on school mornings. Daisy looks disappointed to see me downstairs so early. She is wrapped in a blanket with the cat, settling down to watch The Princess Diaries. 

By 8.30am I have rallied the troops – actually waking Ollie from his sleep, (what is wrong with me?!) and they are dressed, fed, and standing in the hall with their coats on and pocket money in hand. I usher them to the car. They are bewildered. Where is the usual three hours of telly they have on a Sunday morning while Tom and I languish in bed?

I am jubilant. It’s a beautiful, bright spring morning and we are making the most of it! Carpe diem! As I get into the car I remember it is the first of March and turn to Ollie who is next to me, giving him a ‘pinch, pinch, first of the month‘. He looks horrified, like I’ve just assaulted him, which in a way I suppose I have. ” Mummy! You’ve just punched my arm!” He says in his most hurt voice. I try and explain the tradition but he is too indignant to listen, and Daisy sits sniggering in the back. I hope this isn’t reported to nursery. 

We navigate our way round the empty inner ring road and I’m so happy that for some reason I’m saying everything in a David-Mitchell-off-Peep-Show voice: “Look at us! On the road at 8.30! The world is our oyster!” 

The mood changes when we pull up at the park and ride site of the boot sale though. The wind is bitter, cutting straight though us. Daisy is underdressed in a play suit and fashion jacket, and it appears that Ollie is running a temperature, hence his reluctance to get out of bed. 

The actual car boot sale is the poorest I’ve seen. All transit vans spilling their tatty wares onto tarpaulins on the concerete. No nice families having a de-clutter with cut price toys here. We last all of three minutes. Enough time to pick up some scuffed Lego men from a dealer. By then the kids are crying and we hold hands battling against the icy wind back to the car. 



We head to the nearest supermarket cafe – I can’t think what else to do at this hour on a Sunday. The automatic doors open but the lights are barely on inside. Fortunately a handful of people are in the Costa section and that’s all I care about. We de-frost with chocolate babychinos and tea. Of course I have colouring-in on me. I am mystified as to why the store is in semi darkness but I think, fairplay, Tesco are actually being environmentally aware. Must be hard to shop though when you need a torch to see the products?



Suddenly the clock chimes ten and the place comes to life. Glaring lights switch on all over the place and tills start ringing. The kids squint their eyes as the great and good of Norwich South pour in through the doors. 

We arrive home at midday just as Tom gets back from his jolly in London. He looks, well, fragile. He can’t even stand up long enough for the kettle to boil, and sends himself off to bed. 

I decide this pilaf would be good for dinner – some starch and spice. He would probably prefer a dirty McDonalds but I have a cauliflower to use up and a delicious jar of homemade mango chutney from my friend, Fiona, so it’s settled. 

Daisy and I make it while Ollie has his regulation Sunday night hair wash. This is quicker to put together than it looks and you could swap any of the veg for what you’ve got in your fridge. The original idea came from: http://www.veggienumnum.com/2011/10/spiced-tempeh-cauliflower-pilaf/



Preparation time 35mins
Serves 4-6

  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 6 runner beans, cut into 2cm pieces
  • thumb-sized piece fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 600g (21 oz) piece of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup raw cashew nuts, roughly chopped & dry roasted in frying pan 
  • 1 cup coriander, roughly chopped

to serve

  • 4-6 naan bread
  • mango or fruit chutney
  • plain natural yoghurt or cucumber raita 



Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the mustard seeds and heat over a medium-low heat until the seeds begin to pop. Add the turmeric, paprika, cinnamon and garam masala over a low heat combine the spices with the oil until you have a paste.

Add the onion and increase the heat a little continuing to fry until the onion is soft. Add the leek, ginger and green beans and cook for just a minute before adding the rice.

Combine the rice well with the spices and onion, add the cauliflower and increase the heat. Add the stock and bring to the boil.

Cover and decrease the heat to low, allow the pilaf to cook for about 10 minutes until rice is tender and stock nearly absorbed. Add the peas and chickpeas stir through quickly and cover and cook for a further few minutes until stock is fully absorbed and rice cooked.

Stir through the cashew nuts (reserving a few for garnish) and sultanas, cover again and stand for 5 minutes before tossing through the fresh coriander and dessicated coconut.

Serve warm accompanied with poppodoms, chutney and plain yoghurt or cucumber raita for a truly delicious meal.



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6 thoughts on “Cauliflower and Coriander Pilaf”

    1. Daisy loved it and had seconds (the raisins appeal to them); Ollie ate it under duress – he was only really interested in the poppodoms & mango chutney. I just had the leftovers for lunch – still tasty! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

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