Brined first, this Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower is flavorful throughout!
I am IN LOVE with roasted cauliflower. So, when I began seeing recipes for whole roasted heads of cauliflower, I couldn’t wait to try the technique.
I did and whoa, I was sooo disappointed. There was none of that amazing caramelization and flavor intensity you get when you roast cauliflower in florets or “steaks.” To me, boiling it would have netted the same result.
There had to be a better way.
I then decided to kick it up with some Indian-inspired spices using a tandoori blend from Penzeys I had in my spice cabinet. (Penzeys is one of my favorite sources for spices, herbs and seasonings. Here’s an easy recipe from Epicurious.com to make your own tandoori spice blend.)
Simply rubbing the cauliflower with the spices didn’t seem like it would do very much, so I combined whole-milk yogurt, some olive oil, the tandoori blend and a few other ingredients, coated the head of cauliflower with it and roasted it.
But what bothered me was all the flavor was ON TOP of the cauliflower so I knew there was more work to do.
Because I wear a chef’s jacket to the grocery store when I cook for my clients, other shoppers love to ask me food-related questions. On this particular day, the store had just received a shipment of orange, purple and green cauliflower. A shopper asked me if orange cauliflower tasted the same as white cauliflower. Hmmm. I told her I had never tried it but couldn’t imagine why it would not taste the same. I purchased a head to try it, then…….
An orange head of cauliflower would be perfect for this brined whole roasted tandoori cauliflower recipe because of the curry-ish color so an aesthetic problem was solved!
If you can’t find orange cauliflower, don’t sweat it, just use white cauliflower.
A method that personal chefs use extensively to give pork, chicken, turkey and shrimp more flavor is to brine it before cooking. Hmmm. Could it work for cauliflower before roasting? Hmmm….. brined whole roasted tandoori cauliflower?
I am a food geek, however, not a food scientist, but I think it did wonders!
All you do is:
- Fill a large bowl with hot tap water.
- Add 1/2 cup kosher salt, swish it around and allow it to dissolve and the water to cool.
- Cut a fresh slice from the bottom stem end for a fresh cut.
- Immerse the cauliflower in the water and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
When it’s time to roast the cauliflower, combine the tandoori spice seasoning blend with yogurt, olive oil, fresh ginger, a pinch of cayenne, black pepper and a bit more salt.
Now, I totally realize it starts out a funky color and looking a bit strange before roasting. But, wait for it……
The color intensifies after roasting…..
And whoa. Because you started with orange cauliflower instead of plain white, you end up with a curry-ish cast surrounded by a glorious, flavorful intensely red and spicy coating. And, because you brined the cauliflower first, the cauliflower is now “seasoned” on the inside.
No matter how you decide to season a head of cauliflower, I think brining it first is key!
Yes! Brined whole roasted tandoori cauliflower. Now, let’s eat!
10 minPrep Time
1 hrCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
1 head orange (or white) cauliflower
1/2 cup kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for roasting dish
2 tablespoons tandoori seasoning
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fill a large bowl with hot top water. Add the salt and swish it around until it dissolves. Let water cool to room temperature.
Submerge the cauliflower in the brine and refrigerate 24-48 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a baking or roasting dish.
Drain the cauliflower, pat dry and place in baking dish.
Combine yogurt, olive oil, tandoori seasoning, ginger, cayenne, and salt and black pepper to taste.
Coat the cauliflower with the yogurt mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife can be easily inserted. Serve immediately.