I made these little cauliflower snackers for Super Bowl Sunday. It wasn’t something I planned in advance. The hubs and kiddo decided on chicken wings, but they polished it off before the game had even started. It was a glorious day, we were going to spend a few hours lazing in front of the television and I was really craving some kind of homemade snack.
Now I could have made pakoras or fried fritters on such a lazy evening, but we don’t need the added calories, do we? Especially after a lunch of chicken wings and blue cheese dip, don’t you think so? So, we bake them.
You start with a beautiful, fresh head of cauliflower and slather it with some spices, allow to rest for a while and bake them right in the oven. You can also throw them on the grill for a faster version, but if you don’t have a grill, then the oven’s your best friend.
This recipe can be called a tandoori gobi or gobi tikka (gobi being cauliflower), as the term tandoori simply refers to something that has been cooked in a hot tandoor oven. The spice marinade has classical Indian flavors like red chili, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders. You add some thick yogurt (dahi) and roasted chickpea flour (besan) to make a thick, paste-like coating. I also throw in a large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, because cilantro just makes everything a hundred times better!
Slather on the marinade and let it sit for at least half an hour (or up to a few hours in the refrigerator).
The cauliflower florets are then baked to golden perfection right in the oven. It helps if you have a wire rack that can fit over your baking pan so that the cauliflower gets cooked from all sides. If not, just remember to turn the florets over once while baking. This will give them a uniform color and you can finish by broiling them under high heat for the last couple of minutes.
Let’s talk dips now. The best way to serve up these spicy tandoor/tikka bites are with a cooling yogurt dip, just plain yogurt lightly whipped and topped with a sprinkling of chaat masala.
I found myself with a lot of leftover marinade and decided to try and cook it down. You will remember that I told you to use roasted chickpea flour in the marinade, this really helps if you are trying to re-purpose the leftover marinade. Cook it down till nicely fragrant and thick, then add some water and bring to a boil again. This will make a quick gravy-like base if you want to serve the cauliflower as a side to a main meal. But once cooled down, it also serves as an excellent dip. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked that well.
If you want to make a ‘proper’ curry out of your baked cauliflower tikka pieces, then use this recipe for tikka masala. It’s quick, delicious and works equally well with oven-grilled tikka chicken or vegetables.
On to the baked tandoori/tikka cauliflower recipe now. The recipe has been adapted from here.
BAKED TANDOORI/TIKKA CAULIFLOWER BITES WITH A SPICY YOGURT DIP (TANDOORI/TIKKA GOBI)
You will need:
For the tandoori/tikka gobi,
- Cauliflower – 1 large head, washed and cut into medium-sized florets
- Yogurt – 1 1/2 cups (must be thick yogurt)
- Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp (reduce for a less spicy version)
- Coriander powder – 1 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
- Amchoor or dry mango powder – 1/4 tsp (simply omit if you don’t have any)
- Chickpea flour or besan – 2 tbsp
- Lime – 1 small one, juiced
- Cilantro leaves – a large handful, chopped
- Salt – to taste
- Oil – to brush while baking
For the spicy yogurt dip,
- Leftover marinade from above – 1 cup
- Water and salt – as needed
- Tandoori/Tikka Cauliflower: In a large saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Season with a touch of salt, add cauliflower and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow the cauliflower to remain submerged in the hot water for 8-10 minutes or till they are just tender. Drain completely and set aside.
- Meanwhile, lightly roast the chickpea flour in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the while.
- Take all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl (listed from yogurt to salt in the list above). Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add cauliflower to it and mix well to coat them thoroughly. Let it rest for at least half an hour. You may want to refrigerate it for any duration longer than that.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and place a grilling rack over a rimmed baking tray. Arrange the cauliflower florets on it, shaking off excess marinade, and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till cooked thoroughly.. You can also broil them at 450 deg.F for the last 1-2 minutes of baking for lightly charred edges.
- Remove from oven and serve warm with lime wedges and your favorite dip.
- Spicy yogurt dip: You will have at least a cup of leftover marinade from above. Cook this in a skillet over medium heat, till the raw smell goes away and it turns thick with a deep red-brown color. Add some water to it, whisk well and bring it to a boil. Simmer till it reaches a dip-like consistency. Check seasoning, you may want to add a pinch of salt or dash of lime juice to balance the flavors.
- Cool this completely and serve with the tandoori or tikka cauliflower. This can be done on the stove-top while the cauliflower florets are baking and it cools down by the time it is ready to be served.
Enjoy these guilt-free snacks any time. We practically gulped them down and they were all gone in no time at all!
Do you have any quick snack/appetizer tricks? What do you make when the craving hits? Do share.
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- By Stephanie Lynn