Roasted Cauliflower with Punjabi Seasonings (Oven Ki Gobi)

Adapted from Vegetarian India by Madhur Jaffrey.

Serves four to five

The cauliflower florets need to bask in their spice marinade for a couple hours, and the dish roasts for about 25 minutes, so leave time for advance prep. This dish calls for ground cumin. As Jaffrey explains in her introductory note about ingredients, freshly ground toasted cumin is best. Place whole cumin seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat, let toast, shaking the pan, until the seeds release their fragrance, then grind them with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

1 large cauliflower, broken into florets about 1 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches long (about 1 1/2 pounds of florets)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

Place the cauliflower florets in the large bowl. Combine the lemon juice, tumeric and ginger in a small bowl, then pour the mixture over the cauliflower. Add the salt, cayenne, ground spices and fresh cilantro and mix well, using large spoons or your hands (Jaffrey suggests plastic gloves). Set aside for two hours, tossing now and then. 

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds, let them sizzle a few seconds, then pour the spiced oil over the cauliflower and toss it well, making sure to distribute the spices as evenly as possible.

Spread the florets in a single layer in a medium roasting pan or baking dish and place in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the pieces and roast another 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.