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cauliflower and sweet potato curry

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry

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Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea in the genus Brassica, which is in the Brassicaceae (or mustard) family. It is an annual plant that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head is eaten – the edible white flesh sometimes called “curd” (with a similar appearance to cheese curd). The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescence meristem. Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds as the edible portion. Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale, collectively called “cole” crops, though they are of different cultivar groups.


Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry
Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry


Pliny the Elder included cyma among cultivated plants he described in Natural History: “Ex omnibus brassicae generibus suavissima est cyma,” (“Of all the varieties of cabbage the most pleasant-tasted is cyma“). Pliny’s description likely refers to the flowering heads of an earlier cultivated variety of Brassica oleracea.

In the Middle Ages, early forms of cauliflower were associated with the island of Cyprus, with the 12th- and 13th-century Arab botanists Ibn al-‘Awwam and Ibn al-Baitar, claiming its origin to be Cyprus. This association continued into Western Europe, where cauliflowers were sometimes known as Cyprus colewort, and there was extensive trade in western Europe in cauliflower seeds from Cyprus, under the French Lusignan rulers of the island, until well into the 16th century.

François Pierre La Varenne employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier françois. They were introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres’ Théâtre de l’agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori “as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy”, but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV. It was introduced to India in 1822 by the British.

Cauliflower-Sweet Potato Curry

Hunks of sweet potato and cauliflower soak up a creamy sauce of garlic, ginger, onion, coconut milk, and red curry paste in this colorful vegetarian main. In the last moments of cooking, a heap of green goodness, including baby spinach, edamame, and zucchini, hits the scene, followed by a blast of cilantro and lime juice.


This curry is loaded with lots of healthy fats from olive oil and full-fat coconut milk and it’s veritable vitamin rainbow. It clocks in higher carbs from the sweet potato, but packs tons of fiber. Substitute butternut squash for a lower carb (net 25g) option. The curry itself is vegan/vegetarian, gluten/grain free, and Whole30 too! To keep it Whole30, simply serve as is – it’s very hearty and filling.



  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or more baking sheets if increasing batch size). Add cauliflower and season with oil (or water), curry powder, and sea salt.
  • Toss to combine and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. Set aside.
  • In the meantime, heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add water or oil, shallot, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add curry paste and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Then add sweet potatoes, curry powder, and salt. Stir to coat and cook for 2 minutes uncovered.
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk, and coconut sugar and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium high until it reaches a very low boil. Then reduce heat to low or medium low (until simmering). Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally.
  • In the last minutes of cooking, add lemon juice and stir. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt for saltiness, curry powder or paste for intense curry flavor, coconut sugar for sweetness, or more lemon juice for acidity.
  • Remove lid and turn heat off so the mixture can thicken slightly. To serve, divide roasted cauliflower between serving plates and top with desired amount of curry. Fresh cilantro and lemon juice make an excellent garnish. This dish is great on its own, but it’s also delicious with rice, cauliflower rice, or vegan naan.
  • Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat (or in the microwave) until hot and bubbly. Cauliflower and curry can be stored together.


Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry
Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry


Tips and Notes

The original recipe called for vegetable broth and only a partial can of coconut milk. The impracticality of this bothered me, and when I make this curry I never do that now, so it’s been updated with a full can of coconut milk instead. If you want a lighter dish, use a lower fat coconut milk.

I really like this with naan, but rice is great too, and you really don’t even need a side with it. Without something carb-y to soak up the sauce, it’s a tiny bit like a soup and equally delicious.

Apple cider vinegar helps to cut through the sweetness of both the coconut milk and the sweet potato, and it’s not noticeable in the finished dish. It’s key to include some acidity somewhere in the dish, in just about any dish, to make sure it’s well rounded and tastes the best that it possibly can. I don’t recommend leaving it out (and it’s only a tablespoon).



  • Store leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in-between.
  • Store in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then rewarm over medium heat on the stove.

Adjust the Heat

  • Use “hot” instead of mild curry powder.
  • Add ½ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper along with the spices.
  • Add 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (or to taste) along with the tomato paste.
  • Garnish with spicy pickles or a dollop of spicy chutney.

Add-ins and Substitutions

  • Use arrowroot in place of cornstarch to make this recipe Whole30
  • Add one can drained and rinsed chickpeas with the potatoes.
  • Substitute cubed butternut squash instead of potatoes for a lower carb option.
  • Substitute an equal amount of white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes.
  • Add 1 cup frozen peas after Step 5 and simmer 3-5 minutes, or until warmed through.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 485Carbohydrates: 31.7 gProtein: 7.5 gFat: 39.9 gSaturated Fat: 32.8 gTrans Fat: 0 gCholesterol: 0 mgSodium: 857 mgFiber: 8.3 gSugar: 15.6 g


  • Steamed white or brown rice
    • Naan or chapati; pita bread works in a pinch

    Nope! This is a sweeter curry recipe, per um, “feedback” from the kids. That being said, you can easily spice this up from the beginning, or to taste at the end:

    • Use “hot” instead of mild curry powder.
    • Add ½ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper along with the spices.
    • Add 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (or to taste) along with the tomato paste.
    • Garnish with spicy pickles – you can purchase these at an Indian grocer.
    • Add a dollop of spicy chutney.


    This curry is very forgiving, and easily modified to suit your tastes and dietary needs.

    • Chickpeas:  add one can drained and rinses chickpeas with the potatoes for more protein.
    • Butternut Squash:  substitute cubed butternut squash instead of potatoes for a lower carb, but equally filling meal.
    • White Potatoes:  this is a straightforward substitution; use an equal amount of white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes. We like the cooked flavor and consistency of Yukon Gold potatoes best.
    • Peas:  add 1 cup frozen peas after Step 5 and simmer 3-5 minutes, or until warmed through, for some green.


Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry
Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry


Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, Chickpea Curry


  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 150 grams / 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 350 grams / 1 medium sweet potato diced
  • 300 grams / 1/2 head cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger grated
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 400 ml canned diced tomatoes
  • 300 grams cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 400 ml canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 70 grams spinach or other greens


  • Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Once the pot is hot, add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, or until translucent but not browned.
  • Add the sweet potato and cauliflower and cook for another five minutes to brown slightly.
  • Stir in the garlic and ginger, followed by the salt, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander, black pepper, and cinnamon, and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the apple cider vinegar, then add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork-soft.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked, stir in the coconut milk.
  • Remove the curry from the heat and stir in the greens. If using kale or frozen greens, cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Serve hot with naan or your grain of choice (rice, quinoa, etc.). Leftovers can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to three days and freeze well for up to a month.

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