Gobhi Musallam (Roasted Whole Cauliflower)

Gobhi Musallam is a roasted cauliflower dish from the Uttar Pradesh region of Northern India. While the origin of the dish itself is hard to trace, the origin of cauliflower isn’t. Cauliflower is a direct descendant of wild cabbage, and a close cousin to broccoli. Although it was known in Europe during the Middle Ages, it disappeared until sometime in the 17th Century, when Italy reintroduced it to the rest of Europe. Surprisingly, the Italians probably got cauliflower from the Middle East and Asia, who had likely acquired it from Europe during the Middle Ages. I think it’s pretty cool that cauliflower disappeared from its place of origin, only to be re-introduced by another culture.

We love this dish for several reasons. First of all, it’s an easy dish to put together: parboil the cauliflower, whip up a sauce, combine the two and roast in the oven. It’s a very impressive dish to serve to guests, and slicing/serving the cauliflower is a memorable experience. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, Gobhi Musallam is absolutely delicious and an interesting way to enjoy cauliflower.

Serves four

2 tbsp raw cashews, soaked for two hours
1/2 tsp each turmeric and sea salt
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1/2″ ginger, sliced into strips
1 green chili (serrano or jalapeño okay, depending on your heat preference), seeds and ribs removed, sliced into strips
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp each dried cumin, coriander, salt, Kashmiri red chili powder (combined)
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water, more as needed
1 tsp each garam masala, crushed fenugreek leaves (combined separately)
chopped cilantro to garnish

First things first – soak your cashews for two hours before staring this recipe. Once they’ve soaked, prep your other ingredients, as you see above. The cashews aren’t 100% necessary for this dish, but they help to thicken the sauce and to add a creamy taste without using cream.

At first glance, Kashmiri red powder and fenugreek leaves (sometimes labeled as Kasuri Methi) appear exotic and excessive if you’re only buying them for this recipe. Instead, think of these two ingredients as investments: not only do I plan on using these ingredients in some recipes in the near future, they’re also featured in several recipes in my cookbook. And it never hurts to expand your spice rack, right?

Fill a stock pot with water, then add salt and turmeric. Bring to a boil on high heat and gently submerge the cauliflower (I eased mine into the water using a slotted spoon). Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes, then flip the cauliflower and simmer for another 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to keep the cauliflower submerged.

Strain your cauliflower and set aside while you prep the sauce.

In a large skillet, heat the oil or ghee on medium heat until shimmering, about two minutes. Add the onion, chili pepper, and ginger and sauté until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and first set of spices (cumin, coriander, salt, Kashmiri red chili powder), sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes.

Once the tomatoes are softened, blend everything with your soaked cashews and 1/2 cup of water until smooth. Add more water if the sauce gets too thick; you want it to be a thickness more like tomato soup than peanut butter.

Pssst…check out that beautiful blender. Be sure to check back on Thursday for a sweet giveaway I’ll be hosting!

Once you’ve blended your sauce, return it to the skillet and bring to a simmer on med/low heat. Cover and simmer until darkened, about 10 minutes, then stir in the second set of spices (garam masala, crushed fenugreek leaves), cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Again, add water if the sauce gets too thick. During the last few minutes of simmering, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

If you’re using an oven-safe skillet, place the cauliflower in the sauce and spoon the sauce over the cauliflower until well coated, then place directly in the oven. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, put the cauliflower in a baking dish and pour the sauce over the cauliflower. Bake until dry to the touch, about 30 minutes, until the sauce starts bubbling rapidly and the cauliflower starts to brown.

Garnish with cilantro, then slice and serve. Bet you never thought you’d have a good use for your pie server again, eh?

33 thoughts on “Gobhi Musallam (Roasted Whole Cauliflower)

  1. This looks awesome. I gotta say, I’m not paleo, but I love your recipes because you knock out crazy amounts of flavor, while maintaining the integrity of your ingredients. Keep it up, man. Love it all.


  2. Beauty! Nice one, Russ. Normally, that lovely marinade would be all over a lamb leg from that part of the world.

    My Mrs lovely cauliflower, but hates curry. I love curry, but not big on cauliflower. Could this be a compromise meal, or just one to make us both miserable. It’s worth a go, either way …

    Cheers, pal! This is on the list … perhaps the weekend.


  3. This looks really good – your food reminds me of the food from one of my favorite cookbooks “Vegetable Love” by Barbara Kafka. I’ve just pre-ordered your cookbook and am looking forward to it.


  4. Hello, It’s 4:51AM in Rohnert Park, CA and I chanced on the AOL article about you, your blog, and the Paleo diet that has helped you so much. I, too had a stroke with left hemiperesis years ago, and have an auto-immune disease as well. I’m encouraged by all you are doing and hope to get your book, and will continue to read your blog. I love the photos and step-by-step directions as I am culinarally-challenged, LOL. Thank you so much for sharing. Warm regards.


  5. Hey, Russ. Well, I made this. My Mrs would not touch it with hers, yours or anyone else’s. She had some smoked haddock, plain steamed cauliflower, broccoli and I made her a mushroom cream sauce.

    Me? I had this …

    … and made it a meal with some smoked haddock. Fancy a nose?


    Much appreciate, fella. I’m well versed in North Indian food, but this one had slipped me by …


    1. So, I made this today and it was a big hit! I wasn’t able to get the Kashmiri chili powder (subbed 3/4 tsp. paprika and 1/4 tsp. cayenne) and fenugreek leaves on such short notice, but I thought the result was still delicious! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.


  6. Your website is such an inspiration. I made the fish curry last night, and it is so great. This cauliflower recipe gave me the exact excuse I needed to finally check out the Indian spice story five minutes from my apartment – they had both the Kashmiri red chili powder and the fenugreek leaves, each for about $1.50 per box. This is why I love living in Los Angeles. Cannot wait to try this.


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