Suvir Saran’s Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower

Ketchup and a host of spices make this easy cauliflower dish something special.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting New York Chef Suvir Saran, no doubt you reveled in his bold, colorful and magnetic personality.

Not surprisingly, this dish is very much like him — it makes a big impression from the get-go.

“Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower” is from his cookbook, “Masala Farm” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. Suran, owner of Devi restaurant in New York, wrote the book with Charlie Burd, his long-time partner. It includes recipes and stories about their time shared in their upstate New York farmhouse situated on 67 acres with three ponds, goats, chickens and an abundance of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

The recipes are farm-to-table, but done often with Indian flair.

This cauliflower dish has been a signature one since his restaurant opened. It’s sort of like Chinese sweet-and-sour, but with cauliflower, not pork, and boasts a spicy kick.

The cauliflower florets are covered in a spice mixture of cardamom, chiles, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns, then roasted on high heat. They’re then coated liberally in a thick red sauce made of  an ample amount of ketchup, garlic and cayenne.

The cauliflower comes out tender with crunchy edges. The sauce is sweet, tangy and spicy. It’s so good that you’ll want plenty of naan or rice to mop it up with. Indeed, with ketchup as its base, it’s sure to be a favorite with kids if you tone down the spice for their palates.

Serve it as a side to most anything. It would even be fabulous with scrambled or sunny side-up eggs for breakfast.

Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower

(Serves 8 as a side dish)

3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil

3 whole green cardamom pods

3 dried red chiles (optional)

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

One 2 1/2- to 3-pound head cauliflower, cored and broken into medium florets

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns

8 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-by-11-inch baking dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the canola oil and set aside.

Grind the cardamom, chiles (if using), coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in a coffee grinder or small food processor until fine. Mix spices with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add cauliflower, sprinkle with the salt, and toss to coat. Transfer the vegetables to a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes.

To make the sauce: Heat canola oil and pepper in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring often. Add ketchup and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and add cayenne and salt. Cook until ketchup thickens and becomes deep red in color, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.

When cauliflower has roasted for 20 minutes, add sauce to the pan and stir to evenly coat the cauliflower. Continue roasting until cauliflower is tender, another 10 to 20 minutes, stirring midway through. Serve immediately.

Adapted from “Masala Farm” by Suvir Saran

More: My Q&A with Suvir Saran

Print This Post


  • A fantastic way of preparing cauliflower! This book sounds really interesting.



  • People used to be shocked when they learned I made the sauce for my sweet and sour pork dish at home using ketchup and pineapple juice! LOL. I love ketchup, and am not afraid to use it! I also love cauliflower, and have been roasting them a lot lately so this recipe will give me a new twist to making them.

  • What an intriguing mix of cuisines! The cookbook sounds fantastic.

  • “Indianized” Chinese food is a growing sub-cuisine and very popular in India these days. E.g. Like Tex-Mex in the US. This is popular and fun way to prepare cauliflower!

  • I LOVE cauliflower and have been making it a lot. This is a brilliant new way to experiment. πŸ™‚

  • So, there I was just now, laboring over these spices in my tiny little mortar and pestle & lamenting the fact that I do not own, but really should, a spice grinder, and it occurred to me to wonder if I should be at all worried about that half CUP of peppercorns being called for. Sure, that’s a lot of peppercorns, but in light of the accompanying dried red chiles (which, oh yes you can bet this spice wus ((wuss? woose??)) is leaving out) and the cayenne (which I am including, but with some trepidation), practically nothing in terms of the proportion of heat being added to the whole. Still…does it really mean a half *cup*??

    While continuing to ponder, I decided to simply use my pepper mill to grind what seemed like a carefully-measured “lot” of pepper into the mix. Funny how certain decisions are made *for* you sometimes. For some reason, my trusty pepper mill chose *this* particular moment to lose hold of its bottom and empty the entire contents of whole pepper corns into my mix. Not a half cup, by any means, but still most definitely a bigger “LOT” of pepper than I’d been planning to include.

    Taking it as a sign from above, or perhaps some sort of sublminal reassurance from Suvir himself, I decided to go at them with the pestle. Why, yes indeed you *can* hand-crush pepper if you put your mind to it!

    Results pending for dinner tonight. Stay tuned!

  • Carroll: That should be 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns. Sorry about that. I just changed it in the ingredients list. So, don’t use all the pepper you just pulverized.

  • I love cauliflower dishes and this one looks really great! The sauce especially looks very flavorful.

  • Carolyn, oh NOW you tell us! πŸ˜‰

    Too late, but I think it will be just fine. I didn’t end up anywhere near a half cup! Will be sure to report back on the undoubtedly yummy results later on.

  • Carroll: I will buy you another head of cauliflower if it doesn’t turn out. Promise! πŸ˜‰

  • Carolyn, what a way to prepare cauliflower…looks delicious and love the flavor that you have.
    Happy 2013 and have a great week ahead!

  • Early-bird dinner up-date:

    The good news is that I am still alive — head did not explode after all. Flavor was delicious. I cut back considerably on the cayenne in the sauce due to my terror over the amount of pepper in the original seasoning. Balance turned out just about right for our tastes — jusssst on the verge of “too spicy”, but in that good kind of way that leaves a tingle on your tongue, but falls short of actual fire in the throat.

    One thing I would do differently is not cook it in a toaster oven which I was forced to do today. My regular oven is on a maintenance break at the moment, and since it’s just the two of us, the toaster oven usually works fine. But I think because it’s such a small enclosed area, even at 425 degrees as indicated, the veggies turned out to have more of a “steamed” rather than the intended “roasted” texture. I’m trying to make that a polite way of saying they were “mushy”. I really think that all the moisture just didn’t have anywhere to go/dissipate as it would have in a regular full-sized oven.

    That said, when I mixed a few spoonfuls of the cauliflower in with some leftover fried rice with asparagus and onions from earlier today? Oh my goodness was that ever sensational! The rice did a perfect job of muting the peppery overload, while taking on all the nuanced flavors of the other spices.

    I will definitely try this again in the big oven, but for now? Manchurian Cauliflower Mush as an ingredient, for the win!

    Please apologize to Chef Saran for me, but hey, whatever works, right?

  • How beautiful. What a great way to infuse color and flavor into these cauliflower. (I usually just boil them in light chicken broth, shame on me!) I gotta give this a try. πŸ˜›

  • Carol – You are too gracious and kind.
    What can I say… you make me seem good.
    Someday, I will grow up to be what you say I am. I can dream, I have a goal now.

    Masala Farm is a book written with care and with honesty and with stories shared to reveal the joys, challenges and pleasures of moving from a big city to a very small hamlet in a rural setting.

    The magic is there, the idyll is bliss, but not to be taken for granted. There is also an underbelly that is bigoted, hateful, small-minded and afraid of difference.

    The food we cook and share has brought us friends. It has turned some people around. People that thought the gay boys had horns on their heads and the Indian was a Effing Arab who needed to leave the country.

    Hence the food played a very important role. It was our way of showing people we were not all that bad. That we had something to offer. Along the way we offered the community more than just food. But the food helped give them a reason to come – who does not love a free meal, even if offered by a supposed enemy?

    This was a recipe we came up with after Cooking Light Magazine and my co-author, Raquel challenged me to make it without having to deep fry it. Not as much for the calories, but to make this addictive vegetable easy for all to make.

    Seeing your reaction, Carol, I feel we succeeded.

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and saying all these good things.

    Where should I send that check? I know you wanted it sent the day before the blog post went up. I am sorry for my tardiness.

  • Suvir: Food definitely is magical in its ability to bring people together. Like you and me, for instance. As a hard news reporter in the first half of my career, it was often a struggle to get folks to return phone calls, especially police officers, attorneys, city officials and the like. But as a food reporter, it’s far easier. No matter who they are or where they come from, people, for the most part, love to eat and they love to talk about food. Let’s hope your cookbook sparks even more of that.
    LOL No check required. It was my pleasure to discover such a wonderful dish that is now going to be a staple in my house. πŸ˜‰

  • I really like the sound of that cauliflower! When it’s in season, we always have one in the vegetable crisper πŸ™‚

  • A great & strange sounding cauliflower recipe! i love it!

    I only have 5 cauliflower recipes in my repertoire & this is a fabulous one!

    So different too! πŸ™‚ MMMMMMMMMM!

  • cauliflower needs a lot of help to be delicious in my opinion, and this preparation sounds really interesting and tasty!

  • Pingback: Weight Loss Resolutions Broken Already? Try Again with These Recipes for the Chinese New Year! - - Asian-Style Cooking for Your Diet Plan

  • Very interesting recipe. Thank you. I’ll give it a try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *