The Unexpected Ingredient Nigella Lawson Adds To Cauliflower Curry

If you've watched any food television over the past couple of decades, you're likely familiar with Nigella Lawson, the British "domestic goddess" whose many cooking series include "Nigella Feasts" and "Nigella Kitchen." Known for her sardonic wit, improvisatory cooking style, and movie star looks, Lawson has also contributed food writing to outlets like British Vogue and The New York Times, and is the author of cookbooks such as "Nigella Express," "Nigella Bites," and (naturally) "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" (via Cooking Channel).

While her recipe repertoire contains plenty of classics, from Boeuf Bourguignon to Spaghetti Carbonara, Lawson tends to follow the spirit of a recipe as opposed to the letter, adapting dishes to her own palate and encouraging her readers and viewers to do the same. Her version of the timeless southeastern French salade Niçoise, for example, omits some of the ingredients considered indispensable to the traditional recipe — and adds some highly non-traditional packaged croutons for good measure. "I put in what I have at home from, broadly, the accepted canon, but not necessarily everything the purists would," she explains (via Nigella).

Given Lawson's tendency to ad-lib, it's not surprising that one of her favorite ways to prepare cauliflower curry includes an ingredient few of us would think to add to the saucy, fragrant dish.

Nigella Lawson's secret ingredient is hot water-soaked banana peel

Did you know you can do more with banana peels than toss them into your compost? Although most of us wouldn't think to eat banana peels, they are edible, and, since they're packed with fiber, can make a healthy addition to dishes ranging from whole-banana smoothies to whole-banana breads to vegan tacos, as the peels are a fairly popular meat substitute (via Forbes).

And though these culinary uses for banana peels sound like trends, some regions of the world have consumed the peels traditionally, such as the southern Indian state of Kerala. An important banana-growing region, it's common there to work the peels into a thoran (or stir fry) after eating the fruit (via Made in Hackney).

Though she doesn't specify, this tradition could be where domestic goddess Nigella Lawson found her inspiration for including banana peels in her cauliflower curry. As noted by The Guardian, Lawson claims most eaters just assume the peels, which Lawson soaks in hot water and chops into pieces before adding them to the curry, are eggplant.

Want to try this at home? Be sure to use the peels from very ripe bananas, as they are less bitter, and spend the extra cents on organic fruit, as you don't want to be consuming pesticide-laden peel (via EatingWell). Incidentally, if you really aren't stoked on the banana peels, Lawson's recipe, shared with The New York Times, says you can sub in the surprisingly similar chopped eggplant.