In one of my first jobs as a chef, I had the good fortune to work with a master tandoor chef. He taught me a lot about the basics of cooking tandoori food and also the use of spices and techniques specific to a tandoor (the tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven for baking and cooking over charcoal.) This roasted cauliflower salad is one of the recipes that I learnt from him. This is my own version of it, however, the technique is what I learnt from this tandoori master.
A Salad Gets The Tandoori Treatment
I (and I can imagine a lot of you) don't have access to a tandoor to make this roasted cauliflower salad. However, you can achieve a similar flavour with an oven. The Cauliflower is essentially a blank canvas to which we add another layer of flavour with the tandoori technique.
The technique involves the process of infusion. For this salad, we infuse the cauliflower in whole spices and then roast it in the oven. This process adds depth to the taste, aroma and flavour.
Once we have infused and roasted the cauliflower we add another round of flavours and textures with the pomegranate and herbs. They also give it some colour. In addition, a little crunch is added with the roasted chickpeas. So with the smell of the spices, the explosions of flavour and vivid colours, this roasted cauliflower salad recipe is a real pleasure for the senses
Not only do I use this as a salad recipe, but also as a filling for wraps.
Right then, let's cook!
Here is a video guide to making your spice infused roasted cauliflower salad.
Spice Infused roasted Cauliflower Salad
- Digital scales
- 400 gms Cauliflower One head
- 1.5 inch Cassia bark
- 6 Cloves
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 Javitri or Mace
- 1 Black cardamom
- 7 gms Garlic
- 12 gms Ginger
- 1 Tej patta or indian bay leaf
- 750 ml Water
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 50 gms Roasted Chickpeas
- 50 gms Baby spinach
- 20 gms Mint leaves
- 20 gms Pomegranate
- 20 gms Pickled onions
- ½ teaspoon Sumac
- 20 gms Dairy free yoghurt
- 50 gms Boiled chickpeas (or canned)
- 1 teaspoon Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon Kala namak
- ¼ teaspoon Chilli powder
Infusing the Cauliflower
- In a large pot add all the spices, salt and water and bring to the boil.
- Remove the outer leaves of cauliflower and trim the bottom stem to where the florets start.
- Place the cauliflower tail down into the boiling spice infused water and cover with a lid. During this process, our aim is to not cook the cauliflower. It will become a bit softer, but will still hold firm.
- Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes, with the lid on.
- Turn the cauliflower, with the head immersed in the spice liquor and let it rest for another 10 minutes, again with the lid on.
- Remove the lid and leave the cauliflower to infuse in spices for at least one hour.
- Pre heat the oven to 200ºC ( Fan assisted oven )
- Remove the cauliflower from the spice infusion and cut into large florets.
- Arrange the cauliflower florets onto a baking tray, leaving enough space in between each floret.
- Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until you have a nice golden brown colour and the cauliflower is cooked.
- Once ready, set aside to cool.
- Transfer boiled (or canned) chickpeas to a bowl and add cumin, kala namak, chilli powder, turmeric and oil.
- Give it a good toss to insure the chickpeas are coated in the spice oil mix.
- Transfer onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- They are done when they are a little crispy.
- Once done remove from the oven and leave to cool on baking tray.
Assemble the Salad
- Wash and pat dry the baby spinach.
- Cut and seed the pomegranate.
- Wash, pat dry and roughly chop the mint leaves
- On a plate arrange the spinach leaves and add the roasted cauliflower florets.
- Add dollops of yoghurt and the roasted chickpeas.
- Scatter the pickled onions and chopped mint.
- Finish with pomegranate seeds and sumac powder.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad Recipe Notes
The cauliflower can be infused a day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator overnight to give even more flavour to this roasted cauliflower salad. The longer you leave to infuse, the flavour will be deeper.
In the case of the spices for the infusion, you can interchange the cassia bark with cinnamon and tej pasta with bay leaves. If you don't have mace, you can leave it out. Large black cardamom is essential for the smoky / earthy flavour. You can use green cardamom instead - perhaps add two - however this will alter the flavour.
Replace the dairy free yoghurt with dairy yoghurt if you wish.
You can use tinned chickpeas for the crispy chickpeas if you don't have time to soak dried chickpeas and boil them.
Find the recipe for the quick pickled red onions here.