I’ve had a love for tandoori dishes since childhood. Something about the blend of sharp yoghurt and rich spice is the perfect combination where my taste buds are concerned. Since turning vegan I’ve used cauliflower a few times for its substantial chewy texture. The way it readily absorbs marinades into the crevices of its textured surface is also a huge bonus. This medley is exactly what makes this tandoori cauliflower with lemon and mushroom rice so good.
Let me start with a small but significant disclaimer: Without the blistering heat of a traditional Tandoor oven this is never going to taste truly authentic. However there are a couple of steps you can take to make sure it’s as close as you can get to the real thing. The first and in my opinion non negotiable step is to marinade overnight to allow the cauliflower to absorb as much marinade as possible.
Secondly I’ve seen many recipes recently where the cauliflower is marinated and baked whole. Whilst it seems to make an impressive centrepiece I find it really disappointing that despite the delicious crust of the exterior the majority of the centre always looks like plain old cauliflower to me. I don’t know about you but I want that rich, tangy sauce to cling to every surface and find its way into every nook and cranny so for me it’s florets all the way.
Finally the oven needs to be pre-heated on high. I also placed a pizza stone underneath the baking tray during cooking to intensify the heat from all directions. My preference is to slightly overcook the cauliflower to get a bit of a char in certain spots but it’s up to you how crispy you go.
I think it’s important here to mention vegan yoghurt. I have to say I’ve only found one brand I actually enjoy, Tesco’s own unsweetened soya yoghurt. Every other brand I’ve tried, of which there have been many, I find far too sweet to achieve the sharpness I’m looking for in a savoury dish. My honest advice is that if you’ve not already found a brand you love hold off making this recipe until you do. The yoghurt here is literally the glue that brings this whole dish together and getting it wrong would pretty much ruin the whole thing.
I’m especially partial to sour notes when it comes to curry flavours. This dish packs a real citrus punch so if you’re a bit unsure of how lemony you want to go then start with 1/2 a lemon in place of the full lemons in both the marinade and rice stages of the recipe. You can always add more juice towards the end of cooking to your liking.
I’d love to see your tasty tandoori triumphs. Tag me over on Instagram @applefalltree