This whole roasted cauliflower is what you could term a Multi-Culti fusion of flavours and technique but with honourable intent, and to most pleasing effect. This recipe might take a little while to make, but each step is simple and the fork tender cauliflower is gorgeous to eat.
Before we get to the recipe, I must let you in on a little secret. I hated the putrid-pungent-sulphurous cauliflower smell so much that I refused to eat it for many years. When I did make it, I either cooked it beyond death with an awfully heavy-handed dusting of spices and seasoning or suffocated it under a blanket of cheese. But it turns out my choice of cooking method was the culprit: as the cauliflower cells break down during a long, slow cook, smelly compounds are unlocked and the vitamins that leach out tip it right over the edge. However, cooking it by a quicker, more intense method ensures the cells don’t break down enough to release that off-putting odour.
What you will need – (for 2-3 servings)
- Cauliflower – 1 medium (roughly 800g)
- Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Asafoetida powder (hing) – 1 pinch / 1/8 tsp (optional)
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Smoked Paprika – 1 teaspoon
- Coconut sugar – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – 1 teaspoon or to taste
- Garlic cloves – 8 – 10, minced
- Lemon – 1 large, zest and juice
- Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
For Sauce –
- Garlic cloves – 2-3, grated or pressed
- Lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
- Tahini – 1/4 cup
- Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
- Pinch of cumin powder
- Cold water – 3 tablespoons or as needed
For Garnish –
- Almonds – 40 g chopped
- Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Boil water in a large pot. Remove outer leaves of the cauliflower. Trim away the stalk so the cauliflower can sit flat. Add the cauliflower, stem side down into the boiling water. Allow to simmer for no more than 6-7 mins. Take it out and rest on a kitchen towel for excess water to drain.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC.
- Toast coriander seeds on medium heat till fragrant, then add to a pestle and mortar with asafoetida, turmeric, paprika, coconut sugar and salt. Bash well to a rough powder, then muddle in olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest. Stir well to combine. This should have a paste-y consistency.
- Rub the spice paste all over the cauliflower with your fingers, don’t forget the underside.
- Place spice rubbed cauliflower in a heavy pan or casserole. Cover (with lid or aluminium foil) and pop in the hot oven for around 45 mins, or until tender, removing the lid for the final 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds in pan over a medium-low heat until golden, then leave to cool.
- For the sauce, add minced garlic to lemon juice for 10 mins. The acidity of the lemon juice prevents the garlic from becoming too harsh (here’s why). Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another medium bowl. Press the garlic solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the garlic. combine with tahini, cumin and salt. Add water just enough to achieve a smooth, slightly runny consistency.
- Once ready, take the cauliflower out of the oven. Drizzle the sauce, scrunch over the toasted almonds, then roughly chop and scatter the cilantro leaves on top.
- Carve up and serve with rice and steamed greens, or as part of a bigger spread.
Storage notes –
Best eaten the same day.
If you make this recipe, you know the drill: Let me know!