Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

I often think about what it means to blog about food, about Pakistani food specifically. A part of me feels that I should keep recipes alive, carrying them forth in their unaltered state, preserving them for generations to come. The reality is that I cannot do that even if I wanted to. My culinary journey is very much shaped by my mother who if you ever meet her you would know is an immensely practical person. I cannot recall her ever saying she would spend hours slaving over a stove to get the onions browned just the way her grandmother did or that any recipe was sacrosanct because of who gave it to her. Adapt, make it easy, and make it work. That seems to be her approach to cooking and it is that philosophy that makes up my culinary DNA.

spicy whole roasted cauliflower

spicy whole roasted cauliflower

This Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower is my tribute to that philosophy. It is actually also similar to something my mother makes, a beautiful large oven roasted vegetable platter with this beautiful cauliflower at its centre. While it is similar in looks I cannot say for sure that it is similar in taste because I cant recall ever eating it – cauliflower used to not be my thing. However over time that has changed and in no small part because of my love for Aalu Gobi (spiced potato & cauliflower).

While I have shared my mother’s Aalu Gobi recipe here this Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower is inspired by a grandmother. My friend Marium’s to be precise. Her recipe doesn’t have tomatoes and starts with a simple onion garlic base and is finished off with a flavor trifecta of freshly ground ginger, cumin seeds and black peppers. If you had told my tomato loving soul that another Aalu Gobi could complete with my moms I would have laughed in your face, but it is clearly true. Here I use Marium’s grandmothers approach and add a masala paste first and then scatter over the gingery mix at the end, but should you want you can certainly combine it all at the beginning, the longer cook time will tame some of the gingers assertiveness, but to no ill effect especially if you aren’t a fan of ginger.

Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Author Sarah Mir


  • One head cauliflower

Garlic Spice Paste

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder
  • Half teaspoon turmeric powder

Ginger Mix

  • A half inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds


  1. Combine all the ingredients in the garlic spice paste
  2. Trim the leaves off the cauliflower and cover it with the garlic spice paste
  3. Roast at 425 for 45 minutes, insert a skewer to check doneness, it should go through fairly easily.
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting use a mini grinder (like a magic bullet) or mortar and pestle to crush the ingredients for the ginger paste without adding any water.
  5. Sprinkle the ginger mix over the cauliflower at the 45 minute mark (assuming it is fairly tender) and roast for another ten minutes.
  6. Serve as a beautiful side to any rice dish!

Recipe Notes

This recipe produces a fairly intense flavor on the outside of the cauliflower, for a milder version you can use 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tbsp garlic paste, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric. Ginger mix remains the same.

Want to roast up some more spicy deliciousness? Try these Tandoori Brussel Sprouts!

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    1. Thanks Vicky!!! I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately – I recently made a chicken milanese and thought of how much I would harass you to cook for me!

  1. Sarah, I can relate to your “culinary DNA.” Mine descends from a long line of Scottish women who lived and cooked all over the world. Requests for their recipes were met with “Och, just a wee bit of this and a smidgen of that. Just whit ye have on hand, ye ken.” Precise it is not. Result – my generation and the next cannot reproduce their specialties and we have concluded that is just how they like it, the wee minxes!

    1. Eileen I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was to read your comments- turns out somethings transcend cultures!!!!

      1. Maya Angelou — ‘We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.’
        Making the cauli for the Welsh husband tomorrow!

          1. We both loved it! BTW Cardiff has a large South Asian community going back many years. As in most port cities the locals embraced the cuisine enthusiastically, the spicier the better in his case. Also, both our families have historic links with South Asia so we come by our mutual addiction honestly. And they say the Scots and the Welsh are oil and water!!! Thanks for changing my long-held hatred of cauli dating back to boarding school days where they managed to turn it grey.

  2. Heyy Sarah that looks fantastic! I wish someone would make it for me :/ cauliflower is such a no-no with my husband that I dare not even try that one at home.

    And I didd see the cake recipe and I do think I’d enjoy it and I am trying to stay away from all such temptations till such time that my BMI can afford it again :p standing up or no.. lol that was a good one btw, whats that ghalib quote everyone throws around (at least i think its ghalib) – about dil ko behlanay keliyay khayal 😉 and then I just saw your cupcakes on instagram and I thought nooooo stoppp..


    (Sorry for the rambling but I am Hungry and exhausted lol)

    1. hai you’re so good – my self control has gone to the dogs. also when you said ghalib i totally thought you were going to go the hazaron khwahishein route! btw my husband doesn’t like gobi but ate this one …just sayin’

  3. In that case its worth a try my friend.
    Marking this for my weekend project 😉 will let you know how it goes! The upside is if his gobi-aversion proves too strong, its low-carb enough that I wont feel guilty about eating the whole thing myself 😀

  4. Love recipes that have been handed down. Its funny how things we hated as kids are something we love, cook and blog about. This looks great, Sarah!

  5. What a gorgeous presentation!
    And I agree with you on being practical in the kitchen; I find that in the busy and hectic lives we live, it’s important to be able to adapt and make what works for you.

Tell me what you think!