I have been having a 33 year love affair. With cauliflower. In the UK there is always the cliché about children not eating their vegetables and I have no idea why they wouldn’t. Maybe, it’s because they aren’t deep fried.
In Palestine, you get Zahara Baladi, which is the local and ancient variety of cauliflower. It takes all year to grow and then is just in season for a few frenzied weeks in the winter. It is large and delicious and you can’t get through Qalandia without passing at least 5 farmers with flat barrows selling them. Anyone who has ever been through Qalandia checkpoint- or any Israeli checkpoint in Palestine- will know the dread you feel in the pit of your stomach. How long will we be hear, will they get me out of the car, what atrocity will we witness that makes your stomach turn, what will the soldiers say to me, when will this traffic end? The illegally separation barrier built by Israel cuts people off from their jobs, their families, their farmland, and for those few who get a permit to cross the price is hours of waiting, humiliation, detention and exhaustion and they wait in cages to be processed through. Because of the large numbers of people, the place is also filled with vendors- selling balloons, gum, coffee, fruit and of course the delicious Zahara Baladi. And on a particularly awful day at work, after coming back through mayhem of the checkpoint, I saw one final seller still there with just a few cauliflower left. My eyes widened and my mood lightened. I asked my cab to pull over to I could by one.
That night I sat and dipped my fried cauliflower into my ba’dounsia until it was all gone and I completely forgot about my day, and the checkpoints and how hard things can sometimes feel.
Lots of vegetable cooking oil
- Cut the cauliflower into quote small florets and
- deep fry for about 5-8 minutes
- serve warm with ba’dounsia