A veg-centric feast with a cauliflower centrepiece and delicious sides. Photography by David Loftus.

Dr Rupy’s express vegan dinner party

Celebrate completing Veganuary or host a plant-based party with this masala-baked cauliflower centrepiece, ginger dal, saag and coconut yoghurt.

I love one of the recipe tester’s comments on this meal: “It was amazing food that looked like you’d been in the kitchen all day when in reality the prep took no time at all!” That’s exactly how a feast should be. A great selection of food that’s nourishing and authentic, as well as minimal stress so you can enjoy one of the best lifestyle hacks for health: connection.

This masala-baked cauliflower centrepiece with aubergines, ginger and turmeric dal with saag, coconut yoghurt is a beautiful collection of complex flavours and, trust me, nobody realises it’s fully plant-based.

Serves 5 to 6

Masala-baked cauliflower

3 tsp garam masala

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground turmeric

4 tbsp olive oil

1 large cauliflower (750g), quartered, leaves removed, roughly chopped

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Preheat the oven to 200ºC fan

Mix the spices and oil in a bowl with plenty of seasoning. Brush onto the cauliflower quarters and leaves, adding a little more oil if needed. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden, turning the cauliflower and ruffling the leaves halfway through.

Baked aubergines in spiced oil

500g baby aubergines, halved lengthways

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp chilli flakes

½ tsp black pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Preheat the oven to 200ºC fan.

Mix the aubergines, spices and oil in a roasting tin, coating the aubergine pieces well. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden.

Ginger and turmeric dal

2 tbsp coconut oil

40g fresh ginger, grated

2 tsp mustard seeds

1 star anise

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika)

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds

400g red lentils, soaked for 10 minutes then drained

1 vegetable stock cube

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

300ml hot water

200g spinach, roughly chopped

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus soaking

Cook time: 20 minutes

Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the ginger, spices and plenty of seasoning and fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for a further 1 minute. Crumble in the stock cube, pour in the coconut milk and hot water, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft, adding more water if necessary to stop it drying out. Add the spinach for the last 2 minutes of cooking to gently wilt.

Speedy saag

200g spinach, roughly chopped

300g kale, stems removed and

roughly chopped

300g spring greens, stems

removed and roughly chopped

500ml hot water

For the tarka

4 tbsp avocado oil or coconut oil

12 curry leaves

2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp chilli flakes

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Place the chopped spinach, kale and spring greens in a large pan. Add the hot water and plenty of salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until broken down. Blend with a stick blender; the mixture should be fairly thick (you can add a tablespoon of coconut yoghurt to thicken, if needed).

Meanwhile, in a small pan over a medium heat, make the tarka (a spiced oil mix). Add the oil, curry leaves, spices and some salt to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Then throw over the saag in the pan to serve.

To serve

Whip the coconut yoghurt with the lemon juice and salt to taste and dust with a pinch of garam masala to serve. Serve with brown basmati rice, flatbreads and mango pickle.

COOKS by Dr Rupy Aujla (Ebury Press, £22) is out now.


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