What’s cooking today: Roasted broccoli with a poppadom crumb

What’s cooking today: Roasted broccoli with a poppadom crumb
Tony Jackman’s whole head of broccoli with a poppadom and almond crumb. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Broccoli and nuts go together perfectly, and spices fare well with these green beauties too.

Looking around for what to use for some lovely crunch as a topping for roasted broccoli, I spied the poppadoms I’d bought at the weekend. Next thought was: why hadn’t I thought of that before? Poppadoms can be cooked in a microwave in barely 45 seconds, on high, which saves us all the trouble (and extra calories) of frying them in oil. Once cooked, you only need to crumble them with your hands. Et voila! A perfectly crunchy crumb for fish, chicken… or broccoli.

Panko schmanko. These work a treat, and they have flavour too.

I’d bought the biggest head of broccoli I’ve ever seen from a local guy who delivers my braai wood, for R10. I have a very large cast-iron pot of the Le Creuset variety, though not the brand. The beast barely fit in. I filled it with water and brought it to a boil, plunged the entire head of broccoli in, and let it cook for a couple of minutes, then drained it and plunged into a sinkful of iced water with several ice packs in it. Now that’s blanching with a capital B.

Use smaller amounts pro rata if using a smaller broccoli.


1 large head of broccoli

A pot big enough to hold it

Enough water to cover

½ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp dried crushed garlic (as in Robertson’s)

2 Tbsp dhania/coriander leaves, chopped

Grated zest of half a lemon (see recipe for the crumb for what to do with the other half)

Salt and black pepper to taste


1 poppadom, cooked until crisp and crumbled

3 Tbsp almond flakes, toasted and then crushed

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed finely and toasted

Zest of ½ a lemon, grated

Coarse pink salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste


Blanch in boiling water. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Preheat the oven to 240℃.

Fill a sink with cold water, packed with ice packs/freezer blocks and/or plenty of ice. Blanch the entire broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. Pour off the water, then plunge the broccoli into the iced water for two minutes. Pull the plug out and leave it to drain.

Make the crumb: Cook the poppadom on a microwaveable plate on high for about 45 seconds. Crumble it with your hands and leave it on the plate. Toast the almond flakes in a dry pan, stirring, until golden. Add them to the plate. Chop the garlic and toast it in the same pan on a fairly high heat, stirring all the while, until toasty and golden brown. Add it to the plate. Zest a lemon and add half of the zest to the crumb on the plate. Retain the other half and the juice. Grind black pepper and salt in and set the crumb aside until you’ve roasted the whole head of broccoli.

Refresh in iced water and drain. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

The baste: Pour the oil into a bowl or jug and squeeze the lemon juice in. Stir in the ground ginger and crushed garlic. Add the zest of half a lemon and the 2 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves/dhania. Stir well.

With the broccoli upside down, spoon some of the baste into the spaces between each floret’s stem. Season that side with salt and pepper.

Turn it over and spoon the rest on top, and season.

Roast on an oven tray in the preheated oven for 35 minutes to an hour depending on how well done you’d like it. I prefer it to have some crunch so I took it out after 35 minutes. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion of the Year 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is now available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.

SUBSCRIBE: There’s much more from Tony Jackman and his food writing colleagues in his weekly TGIFood newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Saturday. Subscribe here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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