Popcorn Cauliflower & Chipotle Aioli

These are little morsels of deliciousness. Crunchy beer batter, tender cauliflower inside and a smoky, hot, creamy aioli for dipping. We serve them in homemade flour flatbreads with Mexican style salads such as lime pickled cabbage and fresh coriander.

TIPS: This recipe includes instructions on how to make a very hot chipotle salsa. The recipe makes a lot of salsa, more than what is needed for the whole recipe. Therefore I suggest dividing the salsa up into smaller portions and freezing to be used for future dishes. For deep-frying I always like to use a candy thermometer as it takes the guess work out of cooking.


Popcorn Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower

330 ml bottle beer, cold

2 cups SR flour

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

sunflower oil, for deep-frying (or other vegetable oil)

Chipotle Salsa

200g Chipotles in Adobo

400ml can tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, finely diced

1/4 cup brown sugar

juice 1 lime

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt

freshly cracked black pepper

To Serve

2 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, mixed together for sprinkling.

whole egg mayonnaise

fresh coriander leaves

Optional – Flour tortillas, green cabbage slaw or pickled cabbage


Chipotle Salsa

Make this ahead of time. Place the whole can or jar of chipotles in a food processor. Add in the tomatoes and cloves of garlic. Blitz until completely smooth.

Pour the olive oil in a large frypan over high heat. Add in the onion and cook, stirring every so often for about 5 minutes until soft and slightly golden. You may need to turn down the heat to medium if they are browning too quickly.

Pour in the chipotle and tomato mixture. Add the sugar, ground coriander, lime juice, white vinegar and seasoning of salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to a slow simmer and continue to cook for about 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced a little. Set aside to cool. Store in the fridge for up t a week and freeze portions in the freezer for longer.

Popcorn Cauliflower

Break the cauliflower up into very small florets and set aside.

Place the flour, garlic powder and salt into a medium sized bowl. Start pouring in the beer, mixing gently with a whisk until you have poured in most of the beer. Whisk thoroughly to remove any lumps and check the consistency. It should be a smooth and fairly thick batter, a bit like a pikelet batter (able to be poured but will cling to a spoon thickly). Tip in the cauliflower florets and mix thoroughly.

Pour the sunflower oil into a wok or saucepan and heat up to 180 degrees Celsius on a candy thermometer.

In batches, deep-fry the cauliflower until golden on the outside. You can place in 8-12 pieces of cauliflower at a time, depending on the diamter of your wok. Redip each floret into the batter and drip off a little so that they are thoroughly coated in the batter before placing in the oil. While they cook, turn each piece over a few times to make sure they cook evenly.

Remove to a plate to drain (you can op on absorbant paper or a rack, if you like). Repeat with all cauliflower pieces.

To Serve

Season the popcorn cauliflower by sprinkling with a little of the combined salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.

In a small bowl, spoon in 1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise. Spoon in 2-4 tablespoons of the chipotle salsa (to taste) and swirl through, leaving some mixed in and some separate. LITTLE TIP: The chipotle salsa is very hot so you can serve some extra, neat, in another bowl if anyone wants a bit more spice.

Arrange the popcorn on a platter and sprinkle over plenty of fresh coriander leaves. Serve the aioli and salsa on the side.

Serve immediately while hot! If you like you can also serve with flatbreads and Mexican style salads to turn into a vegetarian soft taco dinner.