These tandoori cauliflower chickpea bowls with creamy cashew raita are the perfect answer to what to do when you’re craving a meal with authentic Indian flavor, but you’re also hoping to keep things light, summery, and simple. They’re bursting with color, texture, and nutrition, and what brings them together is the addition of a creamy, cooling cashew raita that can be used in so many different ways.
If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, then you know that depth of flavor–at least insofar as it relates to spices, heat, and alliums–is something I’ve grown into over time. My mom strongly objects to the taste of onion and garlic in food (at least more than a little) so I grew up rarely eating either, and we weren’t a family that experimented with many global flavors, herbs, or spices. Later on, my eating disorder made me shy about trying new things, unfamiliar flavors included.
It’s taken me a while to branch out, but blogging has been an important part of that process, as it continually encourages me to try new things (and being part of the blog community means that I never have a shortage of inspiration). In the last few years, I’ve started using so many more spices and flavors in my cooking, and I’ve finally gotten less shy with garlic, all of which has made the culinary experience a lot more fun.
Even as a teen, though, when I was a bit skittish about trying new stuff, tandoori anything was a favorite. There was an Indian restaurant two blocks away from our home, and tandoori something (usually chicken or vegetables) was always my order. After I went vegan and stopped eating yogurt (not to mention chicken) I sort of forgot how much I enjoyed this dish, but I recently had the thought to create something with similar flavors. Cauliflower seemed like a great canvas, and these tandoori cauliflower chickpea bowls with creamy cashew raita were the result. The cashew raita was an afterthought, but I love how it adds a tart and cooling element to the bowl.
To make the cauliflower here, you coat it thickly in tahini and a tandoori spice blend. You could certainly use vegan yogurt in place of tahini–probably 1/3 cup in place of 1/4 cup–but since it can be tough to find non-dairy yogurt that isn’t flavored, I figured tahini would be a more accessible base.
After the cauliflower roasts, you add it to a simple bowl of greens, herbs, and chickpeas, then smother it with the raita. You can definitely think about adding cooked basmati rice to the bowl, too, and I’ll probably do that when I’m making the meal for dinner or looking to increase its heartiness.
I’m excited to try the tahini/tandoori spice mixture with other vegetables, like zucchini or summer squash. And in the meantime, Steven loved the cauliflower pieces so much that he requested to eat them as a side dish with lunch and dinner in the day or two after I made these bowls. Which means that we’ve got a winner on our hands, and I’m sure I’ll be making this combination again soon.
I hope you’ll try the bowls, adding your own touches. If have a cashew allergy, you can try making the raita component with a cup of Nancy’s plain soy yogurt (by far my favorite non-dairy yogurt option) or the Kite Hill plain almond yogurt. I imagine that either option will be delicious. Personally, I didn’t find that the greens needed any extra vinaigrette or dressing when I used a generous scoop of the raita and mixed it all together, but you can definitely give them a drizzle of oil, lemon, or lime juice before serving if you prefer.
Before I go, I just want to thank you all for the lovely comments on my birthday post. They meant so much to me. I was struck by how much the theme of seemingly inexplicable suffering seemed to resonate, because that has been the hardest issue for me: how to make sense of unhappiness or anxiety when I’m so aware of the privilege and goodness in my life?
I was also glad that the idea of letting mess be what it is struck some chords. It’s not easy to resist the urge to wrestle life experience into tidy parameters of our own devising. But doing so, I’m learning, is an important part of growing, learning, and being human.
See you very soon for weekend reading, and I hope you enjoy these bowls.
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All round winner! Recipe pretty much on target though I did roast cauliflower for a bit longer and substituted jacket potatoes for chickpeas to reduce already past recipe on. thanks.
Glad to hear it, Jenny!
This was a really tasty oil-free recipe. The raita was amazing. I think it will also make a good sub for tzatziki sauce in a vegan gyro, and I may give that a try with the leftover sauce. Tandoori cauliflower was also good, but I did not get it to crisp up for me. I would increase cook time next time.
This is a wonderful dish I plan on trying. I am amazed at all the great recipes that I have seen lately with cauliflower. Growing up I only ate cauliflower steamed and drizzled is cheese sauce. Its nice to know that I can serve it up with a flair serve on greens.
This sounds so good Gena!! I was quite picky for a long time – my family always made the same foods (pizza, pasta, meat & potatoes), I never even tried Indian food until I was well into my 20’s. I like the idea of this served on greens – it’ll make a great lunch =)
So you’re telling me I need to try tandoori anything? I looove spicy food… any spice, not just heat spice. So I can imagine I’d love this too. I’ve never even had tandoori : / Brautiful presentation and moody light, Gena. This is such a delicious recipe and one I can see myself making on a busy weeknight. Cauliflower wins again! xo
I absolut love the color of your photography amazing! Also I always find cauliflower a difficult vegetable I hate or love it depending on the way its served so thank you for a new very good looking version! Would you check out my blog http://whatskatieupto.com and give me some feedback I would love to hear your thoughts! xoxo Katie
This looks wonderful, Gena. I love cauliflower and chickpeas together – it’s such a good combo. Thanks for sharing 🙂
This the second cauliflower-based dish I’ve read about today. It’s going to be a cauliflower week for me! I love Indian flavors and look forward to trying this. I’m super intrigued with coating the cauliflower with tahini. I may need to do the “close your eyes and taste” for the husband though as it still looks like cauliflower. 😉
Tandoori spice has been on my list to try. Those caulilflower are just beautiful! And the sauce – so creamy, I could bathe in it. Yum!
This looks and sounds delicious Gena! If I am ever able to pull myself away from the minimalist approach I love to roasting cauliflower these days (plain, with a very little salt–I call it my “cauliflower popcorn” 🙂 )–I will definitely try this! xo
These photos are so pretty!
Looks of nice!
Love it 🙂
Izzy | https://plantbasedizzy.wordpress.com/
That’s so funny – I guess I never thought about the fact that your recipes aren’t overly garlicky…I typically add 2-3 times the recommended amount of garlic to anything that calls for it! But then again, growing up my dad used to eat popcorn and add tons of garlic salt/weird fake cheese flavoring. It’s crazy how tastes can be formed at a young age.
Now that you’re into trying more garlic – one of my favorite things is to add sliced garlic to a sauté pan while the oil is heating up for a soup, scramble, stir fry, etc, and let it simmer for a minute or two before adding your first ingredients. It totally infuses the oil and adds a roasted garlic flavor. DIVINE!
I love this tip. Thanks, Hannah!
I adore these photos – and that tandoori hued cauliflower is just so delicious too!
This is absolutely beautiful. I am always looking for different ways to prepare and serve cauliflower, the family loves it!
I’ve never tried raita before but I might have to change my mind after seeing this recipe! Everything looks amazing, Gena!