Food & Drink

Cauliflower,with Indian cooking's fire and fun

Tandoori Cauliflower. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.
Tandoori Cauliflower. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post.

Technically, I realize, you can’t make tandoori anything without one special piece of equipment - a tandoor. But you can take the same type of marinade - yogurt, with spices such as garam masala, turmeric and cayenne - that Indian restaurants use for tandoori chicken, slather it on cauliflower florets and end up with something spectacular. It’s a simplified version of a popular North Indian street-food dish, tandoori gobi.

I might even say that this is the cauliflower you should make for somebody who doesn’t like, or doesn’t think they like, cauliflower. The marinade, some of which you save to sauce the florets after roasting, is so tangy and fiery that at the very least it will distract them from what’s underneath, and at the most it might make them realize that cauliflower itself is actually pretty neutral-tasting. Harmless, even.

But this is also what you should make for anybody who loves cauliflower, because they are no doubt looking for exciting new ways to experience it. Believe me, this qualifies.

TANDOORI CAULIFLOWER

4 servings

Serve with rice or naan.

1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (preferably full-fat, but may use low-fat or nonfat)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (sweet or hot)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garam masala

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

2 teaspoons agave syrup (nectar)

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 medium (1 to 11/2 pounds) cauliflower, cored and divided into florets

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together the yogurt, oil, the sweet and smoked paprikas, garam masala, turmeric, salt, agave syrup and cayenne in a mixing bowl to form a smooth marinade. Transfer half of it to a small saucepan.

Add the cauliflower to the bowl with the remaining marinade and toss to coat thoroughly, then transfer those florets to a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast (middle rack) for 25 minutes or until fork-tender. Start checking at 20 minutes; when the cauliflower is almost done, place the saucepan with the remaining marinade over medium-low heat. Gently cook it until hot, being careful not to let it bubble up or boil. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Pour the warm marinade over the roasted florets; taste, and season with more salt, as needed.

Serve warm, garnished with cilantro.

Nutrition per serving: 300 calories, 10 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 24 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar

Source: Adapted from “Feasts of Veg: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes for Gatherings,” by Nina Olsson (Kyle Books, 2018)

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