Indian Spiced Cauliflower with Peas, Peppers & Basmati Rice
HOME > Recipes > Indian Spiced Cauliflower with Peas, Peppers & Basmati Rice

Indian Spiced Cauliflower with Peas, Peppers & Basmati Rice


  • 2 tsp. each black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds

  • 2 tsp. chili powder

  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric or 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and grated

  • 1 cup basmati rice

  • Salt

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 lb.)

  • 4 tbsp. neutral-flavored oil

  • Pepper

  • 2 sweet (field or bell) peppers (a mix of orange, red, and yellow

  • 2 medium leeks or 1 large leek—trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced into half-moons

  • 2 chiles (such as jalapeño, serrano, Fresno, and/or red finger chiles)

  • 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

  • 4 cloves garlic, grated

  • A handful of fresh curry leaves (optional; available at



  • ½ cup Shaoxing rice wine or sherry

  • ½ cup peas, frozen or fresh when in season or available

  • ½ cup vegetable stock


  • Step 1

    Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil for the rice. Place a fine-mesh strainer or colander in the sink.

  • Step 2

    In a small skillet, stir the black peppercorns, cumin, coriander, mustard, and caraway seeds over medium heat until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill and let cool. Finely grind the spices. Add the chili powder and ground turmeric (if you are not using fresh) and pulse for a moment to blend. Transfer the spices to a small jar and cover.

  • Step 3

    Add the rice and a fat pinch of salt to the boiling water (see note below); boil for 12 minutes. Drain the rice; rinse under hot water.

  • Step 4

    Trim the core and the greens from the cauliflower. Separate the cauliflower into very large florets and slice into small steaks that are about 1/4 inch thick.

  • Step 5

    In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp. oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the cauliflower in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and cover with foil. 

  • Step 6

    Add the remaining 2 tbsp. oil, two turns of the pan, to the skillet. Add the peppers and cook, tossing often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes; season. Add the leeks, chiles, ginger, garlic, and fresh turmeric (if using); cook, tossing often, until aromatic, about 1 minute more. Return the cauliflower to the pan. Add half the spices (save the rest for another use) and the curry leaves (if using); toss until coated. Add the rice wine; cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add the peas and stock. Reduce heat a bit and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve the rice with the spiced cauliflower and peppers.

  • Step 7

    Note: The rice is delicious on its own, but I like to flavor the water with 4 to 5 cardamom pods, an inch-long stick of cinnamon, a few curry leaves, and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Remove the pods and cinnamon before serving.

The Tools You'll Need

You May Also Like

"The vibrant color and depth of flavor of this sauce make any protein you choose...
"If there's a heaven, my first meal will be a bowl of aglio e olio...