Spicy Cauliflower with Sesame Recipe

Cauliflower tastes great like this. Imagine a skillet of caramelized onions cooked down with fragrant cumin, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and chiles. Add cauliflower and cook until tender. Vibrant, spicy, sweet earthiness, all on one plate.

Spicy Cauliflower with Sesame

Not everyone is a fan of the humble cauliflower. I get that. But we've enjoyed a good number of tasty cauliflower recipes together over the years, no? My hope is that the cauliflower curry or the lemon-zested sauté converted at least a few of you who were on the fence? If not, maybe this next recipe will. It's no joke. Imagine a skillet of caramelized onions cooked down with fragrant cumin, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds and chiles. Add cauliflower and cook until tender. Vibrant, spicy, sweet earthiness all on one plate.

Spiced Cauliflower Recipe

The inspiration for the recipe comes from Reza Mahammad's lovely cookbook, Rice, Spice and all Things Nice. I bought a copy and slipped it into my suitcase the last time I was in Portland, and I'm finally(!) getting around to cooking from it. I'm always on the look out for approachable Indian recipes, and this book is full of great ideas and beautiful photos. It seems that with a tweak or two, I can turn a good number of the recipes into one-pan weeknight meals. For example, with this cauliflower, you might toss in a couple handfuls of grilled or pan-seared paneer cheese or tempeh.

Spiced Cauliflower Recipe

Give this a try, even if you don't think you're much of a cauliflower fan. It's that good. I can also imagine doing a creamy soup version of this - with a pureed cauliflower soup base topped drizzled with an oil infused with the cumin, turmeric, garlic, and chiles....topped with toasted sesame seeds and some sort of flatbread croutons?

Also! I know some of you are starting to think about Thanksgiving menus, I figured I'd update and bump up my favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, as well as my favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes. I went through and swapped out a few old favorites and swapped in a few new ones.

And lastly, on a complete side note and unrelated to anything to do with cauliflower - I want to tell you about a new, secret-until-now section of my site. I figured I'd bury a note here for those of you who read to the end. Here's the jist of it: I'm dying to know what your favorite cookbooks are. And beyond that - I'd love to know which recipes are your favorites from those books. I think I've found a way for us to share this sort of information with each other.

So...Let's say you have two favorite recipes from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, you can now share your thoughts here. Last weekend I bought Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook. I made Bill Granger's Scrambled Eggs for breakfast yesterday, and have a slight twist on the Poppy Seed Torte headed for the oven. I can make notes here.

While you can use the new library system to make note of favorite recipes from any of your cookbooks, I thought it might be fun to also casually focus on a single book for a couple weeks at a time. What do you think about choosing a group cookbook? I have a list of recipes as long as my arm to try from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, so maybe we can start there? I'm not exactly sure how this is going to play out, but let's give it a shot. Who's with me?

The system is new, and we're still finding a few little bugs. Needless to say - your patience and understanding is much appreciated! Hope you like it. The direct URL: library.101cookbooks.com. -h

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Spiced Cauliflower with Sesame Seeds

Feel free to adjust the spiciness to your liking. And a suggestion for those of you averse to cilantro - try slivered basil instead.

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 medium yellow onions, finely sliced
a pinch of turmeric
fine grain sea salt

1 medium / 12 oz cauliflower, thinly sliced

4 dried red chiles, stemmed and halved
1-2 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 garlic clove, grated

4 cm / 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

1-2 green jalapeno chiles, seeds removed, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro / coriander

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds and cook until they begin to crackle, just 30 seconds or so. Stir in the onions, along with the turmeric and a few pinches of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions caramelize a bit and turn lightly golden, roughly 7 - 10 minutes. Add the red chiles, sesame seeds, garlic, and half of the ginger. Continue to cook for another minute. Add the cauliflower and stir well. Cover the pan and cook the cauliflower over low-medium heat for 3 - 5 minutes, until just tender.

When the cauliflower is nearly cooked, remove the lid, increase the heat, and stir in the green chiles and remaining ginger. Salt to taste, sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy.

Adapted from Reza Mahammad's lovely cookbook, Rice, Spice and all Things Nice.

Prep time: 20 minutes - Cook time: 15 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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The dish -- and the book -- look like must-try's. Especially love side by side onions!


Another gorgeous recipe. Thanks. I love the grated ginger. Speaking of, what do you use to grate yours. I use a microplane to grate and am wondering if I should get a ginger grater fashioned after the Asian style. So many gadgets - is this one worth it?

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks

I adore cauliflower. We've made your cauliflower curry twice in the last two weeks-- my daughter loves it. We also like cauliflower roasted! This recipe looks great.


This looks absolutely delicious! I usually make cauliflower "indian style" - using turmeric, coriander, cumin, etc... but have never thought of adding onion and sesame seeds. I can't wait to try this at home!

Anjali Shah

No hard sell on the old cauliflower here, the recipe looks wonderful, but my favorite part is always your creative adaptation ideas at the end. I like the way you think, and would love to play in the kitchen one day with you - you make cooking healthy fun.

Julie Anne Rhodes

I agree, it's nice to find Indian recipes that aren't too daunting. Those ingredient lists can be nuts! This looks amazing. Of course, I'm already a huge fan of cauliflower. Eat those cruciferous veggies!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

gorgeous. add turmeric to any vegetable and it becomes transcendent, if you ask me.

laura @ alittlebarefoot

Surreal. I bought a Cauliflower yesterday at the farmers market, and just now clicked to your site for a recipe. This looks brilliant, I may tone down the spice a little (cause I'm a huge wimp) but thanks!


If this is even a third as good as your "Feisty Green Beans" recipe - it will be put into the menu rotation on a regular basis. I can't begin to tell you how often I've made the green bean recipe. It's memorized as a go to favorite any night of the week.


I made something very similar to this over the weekend... Added Potatoes and a couple of tomatoes in as well. Tasted divine

Nirvana@ Nourished Living

Yum - this looks absolutely fantastic!! I can't wait to try it. Definitely going to be making this soon... :) Thanks for all the inspiration! All of your recipes are simply superb, and your photography is just beautiful!


I just made cauliflower last night for dinner! I love it, and will have to make this version next time!


I'm perhaps one of the few people who love cauliflower and this recipe of yours is absolutely great. I'm looking forward to trying it. Magda

My Little Expat Kitchen

I love cauliflower! I will definitely be making this next week.


Definitely making this! Although I'm not sure if we'll be getting much more cauliflower in our veggie box until fall (spring here!). I learnt to LOVE cauli once I learnt it didn't have to be steamed with cheese sauce. We often roast it with Indian spices or sautee and add it to a very spicy pasta dish. This sounds great though.


I haven't had cauliflower in years. This recipe sounds perfect!!

Estela @ Weekly Bite

I think this sounds GREAT! I really like that you carmelized the onions... I think it will really add a ton of flavor to this dish. -m

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)

I love cauliflower! And those onions look divine-almost caramelized! I bet it would make a nice soup if it was pureed together (for leftovers!)

Alex (Spoonful of Sugar Free)

I think even I might like cauliflower this way. I love all things sesame.

Jessica @ How Sweet

You make this cauliflower dish look so tasty, I'll have to try it. I've made a few recipes from this cookbook but some how passed this one by! A favorite of mine from the book is the french bean and cashew nut thoran- I highly suggest it!


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