Punjabi Cauliflower


This succulent cauliflower recipe from the cookbook Masala is bursting with flavor and spice. Serve it up as a scene-stealing side or hearty vegetarian main.

Punjabi Cauliflower
Photo: Heami Lee
Hands On Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

Bored of roasted cauliflower? Shake things up and turn those florets into this vibrant dish from Anita Jaisinghani, the acclaimed Houston-based chef. Jaisinghani dives deep into the world of Indian cooking in her gorgeous cookbook Masala, which is also a master class in harnessing the power of spices. This recipe is the perfect introduction to how the combination of spices can turn a humble vegetable into a succulent one. Black mustard seeds, red chili powder, and turmeric pack a ton of flavor while a tomato-and-ginger mixture creates a fragrant sauce. Serve this cauliflower dish as a side or with rice for a delicious and satisfying vegetarian main.


  • 1 medium cauliflower, with leaves

  • cup ghee or olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  • 1 cup minced white onion

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder

  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (unpeeled)

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish


  1. Cut entire cauliflower, including stem, into 2-inch florets and pieces. Very finely chop green leaves and stems and set aside. (The only inedible part of the cauliflower is the core; discard that.)

  2. Heat ghee in a shallow sauté pan over high. Gently drop in mustard seeds; the spices should make a popping and sizzling sound. Immediately add onion and finely chopped cauliflower greens. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent or just lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Stir in garlic, cauliflower florets, turmeric, and salt. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower sweats and then begins to take on some color, 7 to 8 minutes.

  4. Stir in chili powder, tomatoes, and ginger and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until cauliflower is fork-tender and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

  5. Sprinkle garam masala on top, turn off heat, and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Gently mix cauliflower, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Related Articles