Certain vegetables soak up flavours better than others, and that is certainly the case with cauliflower. Aloo Gobi, for example, is one of the most popular vegetarian dishes and is packed full of both flavour and nutrition. This dish is generally dry and is made with turmeric, giving it its yellowish colour, and occasionally contains curry leaves and kalonji. The cauliflower absorbs the many spices that are used in this dish beautifully. Common ingredients include cumin, ginger, garlic, onion, tomato, and coriander stalks. A number of similar dishes exist, using cauliflower as the main component, but the name normally remains the same.
Cauliflower is one of the most used winter vegetables in India, which produces 4.694 tonnes of cauliflower per year. In West Bengal, the total production is 1.670 tonnes alone. The major cauliflower producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Haryana, Orissa, and Bihar, as well as West Bengal.
Advanced cultivation for cauliflower technology uses drip irrigation and hybrid seeds. In the plains, its availability runs from September to May and is used in soups, pickles and curries.
The cauliflower belongs to the Cruciferae family and its varieties depend on the climate in which it is grown. It was initially introduced to India in 1822. The initial varieties were the Cornish types, and later other European types were introduced. Typical Indian cauliflowers were formed as a result of inter-crossing between the Cornish and other European varieties. The new development resulted in the birth of the ‘tropical cauliflower’ – growing in resistance to the high rainfall and hot weather.
These types are typically grown in Indian plains between May and January, which is then followed by the ‘snowball’ cauliflower.
Out of all the winter vegetables, cauliflower is the most popular; it is cultivated for its white tender head, known as the curd. It is a vegetable with many health benefits – packed full of nutrition and full of vitamins A, B and C, as well as being protein and mineral-rich. It is also thought to help prevent cancer and aids the detoxification process.
The whole of the vegetable has its uses: the curd is used for cooking purposes, either as the only vegetable in a dish or combined with other vegetables. Sometimes, the curd is cut into pieces, dried off and saved for off-season use. Even the leaves are used for cattle feed. In this way cauliflower is being used in different indian restaurants.