Whole roasted spicy tandoori cauliflower garnished with pickled onions, buttery pistachios, and crunchy-sweet pomegranate seeds is a show-stopper vegetarian dish for family meals and parties. Served with cooling cucumber raita this tasty and visually inspiring meal is ready in 15 minutes.
Last year I had the pleasure of dining at ABC V, Jean-Georges’ vegan restaurant in Manhattan. One dish that visually took my breath away was the whole roasted cauliflower. It had a brilliant yellow hue and was topped with little gems of pistachios, pomegranate, dried olives, and more. As I started this year’s Thanksgiving preparation, I wanted to create a visually appealing side dish, but it looks like this dish can actually hold its own as a main! My version has hearty tandoori flavors with a cooling cucumber Raita.
How to cook a whole cauliflower
Here is my easy 2-step process that is not only quick but also makes the most delicious whole cauliflower in 20 minutes:
Step 1: Quick Brine & Steam - Trim cauliflower leaves and steam. Make turmeric and salt paste and apply all over the cauliflower. Then steam the cauliflower in the Instant Pot for 1 minute.
Step 2: Roast - Slather the tender cooked cauliflower with tandoori marinade and bake for 5 to 10 minutes. That's all!
Pro tips & variations
- To make vegan whole cauliflower, simply substitute yogurt in the marinade and raita with vegan yogurt. Check out this article on the best dairy-free yogurts
- Brush the turmeric and salt + water paste all over the cauliflower, also turn the cauliflower head upside down and pour over any remaining paste. Repeat the same when applying the marinade.
- The pressure cook time for whole cauliflower (trimmed weight):
- For 1 to 1.5 lbs steam for 1 minute
- For 1.5 to 2 lbs steam for 2 minutes
- For less than 1 lb steam for zero minute
- To adjust the spice levels, add more or less Kashmiri red chili and garam masala
- I used Mealthy CrispLid to roast the cauliflower but you can also bake it in the oven or an air fryer
- You can cut the cauliflower into ½ inch steaks and broil for 5 minutes to get a more crispy texture
My favorite garnishes for the spicy whole cauliflower
✓ chopped cilantro
✓ roasted pistachios
✓ sliced almonds
✓cashews pan-fried in ghee
- In a bowl, add finely grated cucumber, salt, grated garlic, ground cumin, and cilantro.
- Add yogurt and mix well.
Here is how to serve whole roasted tandoori cauliflower:
With finely grated piles of cool-crispy Persian cucumbers dunked in creamy yogurt and a hint of garlic, cucumber raita makes the perfect accompaniment to spicy tandoori cauliflower. Simply cut the cauliflower into thin steaks and serve with raita, pickled onions, and a lemon wedge.
Want to serve this gorgeous roasted cauliflower for the upcoming holidays? Here are some of my favorite recipes to make a complete holiday meal:
- Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Ginger Brussel Sprouts Sprouts
- Hot Apple Cider
- Whole Chicken in Tandoori Spices
- Homemade Pomegranate Juice
- Apple Cake
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Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower with cucumber raita
Step 1: Brine and Steam the Cauliflower:
- Add 1 cup water to Instant Pot.
- Place the cauliflower head on the trivet and place the trivet inside the Instant Pot
- Mix salt and turmeric in 2 tablespoons of water and brush it all over the cauliflower. Turn the cauliflower over and evenly pour any remaining paste on it. Then place the cauliflower back on the trivet with the stem down. Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Set the Instant Pot to Manual/Pressure cook(hi) for 1 minute. Quick release and open the Instant Pot.
Step 2: Marinate and Roast
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Apply the marinade on the steamed cauliflower using a brush or silicone spatula. You can also turn the cauliflower over to get any remaining marinade under the cauliflower. Then place the cauliflower back on the trivet with the stem down. Apply the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the cauliflower.
- Place the CrispLid on top of the Instant Pot and adjust the temperature to 400 degrees and cook time to 5 minutes. You can also roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 3: Raita
- In a bowl, add finely grated cucumber, salt, grated garlic, ground cumin and cilantro. Add yogurt and mix well.
- Place the cauliflower in a medium serving platter. Pour Raita ground the cauliflower. Garnish with cilantro, pistachios, pomegranates and pickled onions. Add lemon wedges to the side.
- Cut into ½ inch steaks while serving.
- Boil 1 cup of red pearl onions in 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of salt for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the onions and rinse once
- In a small saucepan add ½ cup water, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon black peppercorn, ½ teaspoon fennel seeds and bring it to a boil or until the sugar dissolves
- Place the drained onions in a jar or glass bowl. Pour the vinegar water over it. Allow it to come to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving