Tandoori Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Quinoa

Tandoori Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Quinoa Photos by Lindsey Johnson

A few months ago, Kiersten and I were discussing all of the various shapes and forms that cauliflower takes on — usually replacing some sort of meat-stuff. Cauliflower burgers, wings, even steaks! And I remember joking, “I should totally take a whole cauliflower and make a cauliflower ‘Cornish game hen!'” And Kiersten said something like, “Actually, you really SHOULD do that!” And then I seriously toyed with the idea for awhile, but that was it. Whole roasted cauliflower was put on the back burner. So to speak.

Well, today, it has happened. Finally. Today, we have a whole roasted cauliflower. My life is complete.

This Tandoori Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Quinoa was inspired by the popular Indian dish Tandoori chicken, specifically the version found on the fantastic food blog Simply Recipes.

Tandoori Cauliflower Ingredients
In Tandoori chicken’s traditional form, the meat is marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices and cooked in a clay oven called a “tandoor.” It’s often served with an aromatic spiced rice and/or a yogurt-based dipping sauce.

Alas, I have no clay oven at my disposal, so rubbing the head of cauliflower with a the spicy yogurt marinade and roasting it in my plain old oven had to do. For the side, I chose quinoa instead of rice. I love the idea of using protein-rich quinoa in this recipe to make it a full, satisfying meal. And while yeah, the cauliflower is fun, healthy, delicious, and even slightly whimsical, the Indian-spiced quinoa is what really makes this one for me. I adore it.

One thing my carnivorous husband and I both loved about the whole-roasted Tandoori cauliflower was that when it’s baked whole and then cut into wedges for serving, it stays firm — yet still tender. No mushy cauliflower here.

The list of ingredients is long, I know — but please don’t be intimidated! Most of the ingredients are spices you probably already have in your cupboard. And if you need to buy any, be sure to check out the bulk section at your local well-stocked grocery store. You’ll no doubt save gobs of money that way.

Tandoori Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Quinoa

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Tandoori Cauliflower with Indian-Spiced Quinoa

This Indian-inspired recipe features a spicy whole-roasted head of cauliflower, cut into wedges, and served over sublime spiced quinoa. Finish with a drizzle of yogurt dip to help tame the heat. Inspired by Simply Recipes' Tandoori Chicken.


    For the Tandoori cauliflower:
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil (or any cooking oil with a high smoke point)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the Indian-spiced quinoa:
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
  • 2 whole cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • For the yogurt sauce:
  • 1/2 cup leftover yogurt marinade
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional garnish:
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Rub the center of a baking sheet with oil (where you will set the cauliflower).
  2. Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower and cut off the bottom of the stem so that it has a flat base. Rinse well and dry. Set the cauliflower on the baking sheet.
  3. Add yogurt to a small bowl and whisk in the spices, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, and salt. Brush 1/2 cup of the yogurt marinade over the head of cauliflower, completely covering all except the flat bottom.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, make the Indian-spiced quinoa. Rinse quinoa well under cool water to remove the natural soapy-tasting residue. Add to a medium saucepan along with the water, cinnamon stick, cardamom, and cloves. (Note: For easier retrieval later on, tie the cardamom and cloves into a cheesecloth pouch before adding.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender and fluffy. Remove from heat and let the quinoa sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the spices.
  6. In a large saute pan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onion, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the quinoa and sprinkle the turmeric over the top. Stir until all of the ingredients are combined and quinoa is heated through, then season with salt to taste and remove from heat.
  7. To make the yogurt sauce, stir the 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into the remaining yogurt marinade. Chill until ready to serve.
  8. To serve, cut the cauliflower into four or six wedges. Place a scoop of Indian-spiced quinoa on a plate and top with a wedge of cauliflower. Drizzle with yogurt sauce or serve the sauce alongside. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the top, if using.

Kare Raye

About Kare

Kare is a home cook, vegetarian, and mom who coexists with her otherwise carnivorous clan. Her blog, Kitchen Treaty, helps mixed-diet families keep the peace.   Read more from Kare →

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  1. says

    What a gorgeous meal! So healthful and full of flavor with all those warm, tasty spices! I must make this ASAP.

    P.S. Rikki hit a home run with these photos, as always!

    • says

      Boo – I thought my idea was so original, too! 😉 I *love* the idea of serving this with mint chutney – that sounds divine.

  2. says

    Adding cardamom, cloves and mustard seeds to the grocery list right now. This looks delicious. I love how many different ways there are to cook/eat cauliflower! 🙂

  3. says

    Yum! I love Indian food, and cauliflower, and quinoa. This looks so good. Saffron is another great spice to use with cauliflower, roasted or cooked in coconut milk, you can’t go wrong.

  4. says

    On the money! I’ve been saving a roasted cauliflower recipe baked with the yogurt–but you took it all the way–in such a great direction. Love the idea. Nice!

  5. Federica says

    Tried this last night, baked the cauliflower for 45 min at 200°C, but it was still raw. Is it how it’s meant to be? Love your recipes! Ciao from Italy!

    • says

      It should be tender – not mushy – but definitely not raw! You may need to up the temperature slightly and cook it for a bit longer. It can really depend on the size of the cauliflower.

  6. says

    I’m all about infusing Indian flavors into my dinner and thankfully my pantry is fully stocked with these ingredients and ready for action! Love how this requires so little prep work…just rub on the spices and GO.

  7. Swang says

    The quinoa was simply amazing. However I baked the cauliflower for 40 minutes, but it wasn’t well cooked 🙁 So I had to put it in the microwave for 10 more minutes for it to get cooked throughout ( but it did end up becoming a little soggy, couldn’t help it 🙁 )
    But the taste was awesome!

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