A dear friend traveled to Turkey earlier this summer and brought me back some incredible saffron from the Souk in Istanbul, which I have used in everything from a marinade for grilled chicken and pork tenderloin, to an infusion for roasted potatoes and for this, whole roasted cauliflower with Indian spices like saffron, garam masala, cumin, coriander and a touch of cinnamon in a yogurt-lemon sauce. Earthy, bold and spicy with just the right amount of heat, spice and coolness. Delicious on its own as a vegetarian entree with a side of herbed cous-cous, or as a side dish.
Indian Spiced Cauliflower
1 whole head of cauliflower, stem and outer leaves removed
pinch saffron threads, crushed
2 tablespoons hot water
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2-1 teaspoon Siracha sauce or red pepper flakes, to your taste
2 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh mint, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
Wash the cauliflower and set it aside. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons of very, very hot water to the saffron and let steep for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, spices and herbs together into the yogurt with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. After 15 minutes add the saffron to the yogurt sauce and whisk to combine. Rub the cauliflower with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Line the bottom of a baking dish with enough aluminum foil to be able to wrap it around the caulifower then place the cauliflower in the center of the dish on the foil. Using your hands (best kitchen tool we have) or a pastry brush, rub the yogurt mixture into the cauliflower to cover completely, but don’t feel you need to use it all if it is well covered (you can add more later as the cauliflower is cooking.) Fold the foil loosely around the cauliflower and place in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove the foil wrap and apply a bit more of the marinade then, uncovered, roast for another 15 minutes or until very tender and a nice crust has formed on the cauliflower, but don’t cut all the way through. Remove from the oven and plate the whole cauliflower on a serving dish topped with fresh herbs and a bit of bacon if you have some handy. Serve white still very hot, cutting into chunks table-side.
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