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.
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
- 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
- A half inch piece of fresh ginger
- 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Combine all the ingredients in the garlic spice paste
Trim the leaves off the cauliflower and cover it with the garlic spice paste
Roast at 425 for 45 minutes, insert a skewer to check doneness, it should go through fairly easily.
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.
Sprinkle the ginger mix over the cauliflower at the 45 minute mark (assuming it is fairly tender) and roast for another ten minutes.
Serve as a beautiful side to any rice dish!
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.