Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp turmeric powder to this water. When the water comes to boil, turn off the heat. Now add the cauliflower florets and let it sit for 5 minutes. Make sure the cauliflower is entirely inside the water.
After 5 minutes, drain the water and run it through cold water and drain the water. Set this aside.
Roast the spices-
Heat a pan and add 1 tsp of coconut oil. When it is hot, add the green chilies, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and roasted gram. Fry over medium heat for 30 seconds and then add the poppy seeds and fennel seeds. Reduce the heat to medium-low and roast until the spices are fragrant. Turn off the heat and add the coconut. Mix it well and allow it to cool.
Grind the masala-
Add the roasted spice mix into a mixer jar. Add the sambar powder, tamarind paste, and kalpaasi if used into the mixer jar.
Grind it into a smooth paste by adding ¾ cup of water.
Transfer the masala into a bowl, rinse the mixer jar with ¼ cup of water, and reserve that water.
Prepare the kurma kuzhambu-
Heat a pan or kadai and add the 4 tsps of coconut oil.
When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the fennel seeds and curry leaves.
After about 20 seconds, add the chopped onion and cook until the onion turns translucent.
Then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook until the raw smell goes off.
Now add the tomato and cover and cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
Add the ground masala, salt, and the reserved water. Mix and let it simmer for just two minutes.
Now add cauliflower florets and one more cup of water. Reduce the medium-low and cook until the cauliflower florets are soft and tender, for about 8 to 10 minutes. I usually reduce the heat to low and slow cook it for 15 minutes. The gravy will thicken as we are adding roasted gram. So adjust water accordingly and as per your consistency preference.
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and add the remaining 1 tsp of oil and cilantro. Mix and serve hot with rice or roti.
Instead of cauliflower, you can use mixed vegetables or soy chunks or just mushrooms.
Adjust the salt, tamarind paste, and spices according to your preference. You can add red chili powder instead of sambar powder, or along with sambar powder, you can add red chili powder for a spicer version.
Kalpaasi is optional. If you can't source it, you can skip it.
For more kurma flavor, add ½ tsp of garam masala, or add cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom while tempering.
Adjust the water according to your preference.
I have tried this recipe with other oil and oil + ghee combination. Our personal preference is coconut oil. You can make this curry with oil of your choice.
Pressure Cooker Version-
You can make this in a pressure cooker also. In a pressure pan or cooker, do the tempering and cook the onions and GG paste. Then add the tomatoes, ground paste, vegetables, and salt. If you are using mixed vegetables or soy chunks, cook for one whistle and let the pressure release naturally. And if you are using cauliflower or mushroom, pressure cook for one whistle and release the pressure quickly.