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By: Chef Laura Bonicelli

The cool tahini sauce calms down the intensely seasoned Indian spiced cauliflower and the serrano-laced herb sauce. Buy your ingredients at your favorite Farmers Market! 

tahini sauce

about Indian Spiced Cauliflower

Coming from Northern Minnesota, an Italian family, and surrounded by Scandanavians, I didn’t try Indian food until I was almost 30. Many ingredients, cooking techniques, and a litany of spice and spice blends weren’t in my vocabulary. Familiar spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in savory dishes? Indian Spiced Cauliflower doesn’t have cinnamon or nutmeg. But I thought I’d bring my experience up because, at the time, it surprised me. I’ve come a long way with Indian food since then, and so has my spice cabinet! This dish has an intense combination of turmeric, cumin, coriander flavoring the cauliflower, sumac with red onions, and Serranos and cumin in the herb sauce. With all of that going on, a nice cool sauce made with Tahini and lemon juice helps balance the spicy heat.

putting Indian Spiced Cauliflower together

The sumac onions in the Indian Spiced Cauliflower recipe is another balancing act for the spice and heat in this recipe. Sumac is a piquant spice made from the berries of the sumac plant. There are many varieties of the plant. Its distinctive flavor with the onions makes them almost candy-like. I love saving some of the onions for topping a following day omelet.

An excellent way to approach this dish is to make the onions, marinade, tahini sauce, and herb sauce the morning of (if you’re making it for dinner) or the day before. With everything out of the way and in your refrigerator, you can concentrate on marinating the cauliflower and cooking it. 

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sumac onions
Herb Sauce

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Need some more ideas? Try these:

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Dal

Green Beans and Coconut

Indian-style Saffron Rice

Buon Appetito!

Step by Step Instructions

Indian Cauliflower

Indian Spiced Cauliflower with Tahini and Herb Sauces

© Chef Laura Bonicelli
The cool tahini sauce calms down the intensely seasoned Indian spiced cauliflower and the serrano-laced herb sauce. 
5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Brunch, MM-Blue
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 1089 kcal


=====sumac onions=====

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 medium-sized red onion
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt

=====grilled cauliflower=====

  • 1 cup avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 large head cauliflower or 2 small

=====tahini sauce=====

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

=====herb sauce=====

  • 4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 6 serrano peppers stemmed with seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil


  • Maldon sea salt


  • Bring the vinegar to a simmer in a small pan over low heat. Remove from the heat; toss in the onion, sumac, and salt. Put in a container, cool, cover, and refrigerate.

=====grilled cauliflower=====

  • Whisk the oil, salt, turmeric, coriander, and cumin seeds together in a medium-sized bowl. Add the cauliflower upside down, holding by the stem. Turn to coat. Leave the cauliflower to marinate for one hour at room temperature. Turn as necessary until thoroughly coated. While the cauliflower is marinating, make the sauces.

=====tahini sauce=====

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Remove to a container and refrigerate until needed.

=====herb sauce=====

  • Place the herbs, peppers, cumin, garlic, and Kosher salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until chopped and combined. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Remove to a container; set aside until ready to use. Refrigerate extra sauce.
  • If you're using a charcoal grill, start the coals after the cauliflower marinates for 30 minutes. Set the grill up for indirect heat. If you're using gas, set the grill up for indirect cooking and preheat the grill.
  • Place the cauliflower on an oiled grill pan; reserve the marinade. Grill the cauliflower indirectly, grill closed, for one hour and 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. (This may take longer depending on the size of your cauliflower and the heat of your grill.) Baste the cauliflower generously with the marinade every 15 minutes while cooking. The surface of the cauliflower will be caked with spices. (You can also bake the cauliflower in a 375°F oven for the same amount of time with the same directions.)
  • Serve the cauliflower on a serving platter. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the tahini sauce and 1/2 cup of the herb sauce. Sprinkle lightly with Maldon sea salt. Serve the remaining sauces on the side.

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I love serving this cauliflower over a bed of quinoa and chick peas.


Calories: 1089kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 7gFat: 114gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 17gMonounsaturated Fat: 78gSodium: 2389mgPotassium: 656mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 92IUVitamin C: 80mgCalcium: 96mgIron: 4mg
Keyword coriander, cumin, sumac, turmeric
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