whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

This summer, I got to spend some time in NY/Philly/NJ catching up with my friends from grad school and even a couple fellow bloggers. It was so much fun seeing everyone again, and (of course!) there was a lot of good food. My friend Anita cooked the most beautiful dinner, including a whole roasted cauliflower appetizer with a wonderful herby tahini dipping sauce. When we got home, I was inspired to put my own spin on it, so I made a vegan sabzi khordan plate, with whole roasted cauliflower in the center instead of the hunk of cheese I usually serve. Sabzi khordan is essentially a big plate of herbs and veggies, so the big wreath of fresh herbs worked wonderfully with an Anita-inspired lemony tahini sauce on the side. The spices I chose for this whole roasted cauliflower were inspired by Persian Mama Blog’s advieh berenj, a seasoning for rice. It adds a lovely warmth and depth to just about anything.

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as a side
active time: 15 minutes
total time: 2 hours
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  • 1 medium/small head cauliflower (700g)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/8 teaspoon rosewater (optional)

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/4 cup tahini (60g)

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (45g)

  • 3 tablespoons water (45g), optional

  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled rose petals (optional)

  • 1 bunch basil

  • 1 bunch cilantro

  • 1 small bunch chives

  • 1 small bunch mint

  • Bread for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Cut the stem so the cauliflower sits level, and (optionally) discard the leaves. Combine the olive oil, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, rosewater (do not add extra—it should be very subtle), and salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon) and brush all over the cauliflower, getting under the leaves. Place in a cast iron skillet or another baking dish with room around it, and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes for al dente, or longer for more tender cauliflower (up to 2 hours). Decrease the temperature to 350°F and tent with foil if it starts to brown too much for your liking, and check on it often after the first hour.

  3. While it’s in the oven, make the tahini dipping sauce. Combine the tahini, lemon juice, water, and salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon), and whisk together until it thickens. Set aside.

  4. Remove the cauliflower to a plate. Top the cauliflower with the rose petals. Arrange the basil, cilantro, chives, and mint around it. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side, and encourage guests to grab a big handful of their favoirte herbs with every bite of cauliflower/bread/tahini.

To make ahead: The cauliflower can be roasted ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and then reheated in the oven before serving (it will soften more as it reheats, so cook it for about 15 minutes less than you’d like earlier on, and let it finish cooking through as it reheats). The tahini sauce can be mixed up ahead of time, and then stored in the refrigerator for a couple days. The herbs can be washed, dried, wrapped up in slightly damp kitchen towels, and stored in a resealable container for several days.

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

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vegan biryani

vegan biryani

The other day, I realized that I hadn’t shared a vegan recipe here since May! I haven’t routinely kept a vegetarian diet in quite a while, but skipping meat has always been kind of my default, so I can’t believe it’s been so long since I shared one of my favorite vegan recipes with you guys.

So whether you’re strictly vegan or just looking for some “meatless Monday” inspiration, I hope you enjoy this vegan biryani. It’s inspired by my cousin Maryam’s chicken biryani, but I use a sheet pan roasting method, which turns it into way more of a weeknight staple than a special occasion showstopper. Some of you might notice how different this is from classic South Asian versions of biryani, and while the answer as to “why” is a bit complicated, the main difference is in the technique, with Iraqi/Assyrian/Armenian/Persian biryanis tending to have more roasted/fried flavors, rather than more melded, blended flavors. In either case, the idea of layering is key (whether layering flavors or layering ingredients).

To veganize it, I use chickpeas instead of chicken, a simple substitution that’s as easy as swapping out a few letters. Since it’s a bit on the carby side, it goes particularly great with a big heap of garlicky sautéed greens.

vegan biryani
vegan biryani
vegan biryani
vegan biryani
vegan biryani
vegan biryani
vegan biryani
vegan biryani

vegan biryani

serves 5 or 6 as a main, or more as a side
total time: 40 minutes
active time: 25 minutes
download a
PDF to print

for the rice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (20g)

  • 2 teaspoons of spice mix (below)

  • 1 1/4 cups basmati rice (215g), rinsed until the water runs clear

  • 1 2/3 cups water (390g)

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste) 

for the roasted veggies

  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons spice mix (below)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (25g)

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2 medium gold potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch  wedges (400g)

  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced (115g)

  • 1 14-oz can chickpeas (400g), rinsed and strained

  • 1 cup frozen peas (120g)

  • 1/4 cup raisins (either black raisins or sultanas) (40g)

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds (30g)

  1. Preheat the oven to 475°F convection (245°C).

  2. Once you have all the above ingredients prepped, start the rice. Place the 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s heated for a couple minutes, add the 2 teaspoons of spice mix, and stir together for 1 minute to temper.

  3. Add the rice and stir to evenly coat it in the oil/spices. Add the water and salt, give it another stir, and increase heat to high. Once it comes to a boil, cover, and immediately reduce to low. Set a timer for 14 minutes, and leave it covered on low heat while it cooks (no peeking, and definitely no stirring). Once 14 minutes have passed, remove from heat and leave the lid on. Let it rest covered for at least 15 minutes (up to 30). Once it’s ready, fluff it before plating.

  4. While the rice is cooking, get the veggies going: combine the 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of spice mix with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, and about 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste). Place the potatoes, onions, chickpeas, and peas on a sheet pan, and pour the spice mix over them. Use your hands to evenly coat everything in the spice mix.

  5. Roast for about 20 minutes total, until the potatoes are done and everything is golden brown. About 2 minutes before the veggies are ready to come out of the oven, coat the raisins and pine nuts in a tiny bit of oil, and sprinkle them on the veggies to let them roast for just a couple minutes.

  6. Fluff the rice, place on a serving plate, and top with the roasted veggies.

biryani spice blend

  • 1 tablespoon paprika (7g)

  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder (7g)

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (2g, or less if you don’t like spice)

  1. Combine, then divide into 2 teaspoons (4g) for the rice and 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons (12g) for the veggies.

vegan biryani