cauliflower in pickling spices

This is a simple and delightful cauliflower dish from Lucknow. The pickling spices are those that are used to make pickles, hence the name.

Achari Gobi is healthy and simple to prepare. It could accompany just about any dish as an accompaniment. It is good on its own too, perhaps with some chapatis.

It is a dry dish, so you must be careful with the amount of water you use in making the pastes. You should also be careful when adding water in the final cooking stages. The consistency you want to achieve is just-cooked but textured cauliflower, with enough gravy to cling to the vegetable to hold the spices.

The use of these pickling spices is quite common in the northeast of India, due to their preservative qualities. Chicken in pickling spices is another popular dish which I will post shortly.

The only uncommon ingredient in this recipe is amchur, or dried mango powder. This is a pungent, sour spice, and is available from good Indian grocers. There is no real substitute. This is another spice you should buy in small quantities, as you don’t use much of it in most recipes. The fresher the powder the more pungent is its flavour.

Fresh spices, a good fresh cauliflower and you have a great dish. Your vegetarian friends will love you.

the recipe

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to cook

to serve


  • Heat a small frypan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and toss gently until the seeds start to colour and become aromatic. Remove from the heat, allow to cool then grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
  • Use a mortar and pestle to break up the cumin, fenugreek, fennel, and nigella seeds. Set aside.
  • Blend the green chillies and a few teaspoons of water to a smooth paste and set aside.
  • Blend the garlic and ginger to a smooth paste with a few teaspoons of water and set aside.
  • Cut the cauliflower into generous florets. See the notes below for a description of a simple technique.

to cook

  • Heat the mustard oil in a heavy pan on low heat. Add the asafoetida, mustard seeds, and the broken-up spices. Stir and fry for 20 seconds then add the onions. Sprinkle the salt over the onions, then mix well. Gently cook for 10 minutes, covered, until they soften and become translucent.
  • Remove the cover, add the garlic and ginger paste, then fry for a minute.
  • Add the turmeric and the coriander powder, then stir well.
  • Add the cauliflower florets and gently mix. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring continuously and gently. Make sure each floret is well covered in oil and spice.
  • Add the green chilli paste and 200ml of water. Stir gently, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Stir every few minutes.

to serve

  • Add the dried mango powder and the jaggery. Cook for one minute, gently mixing to ensure cauliflower is coated evenly.
  • Sprinkle with the coriander leaves and serve.


  • A medium-sized, untrimmed head of cauliflower weighs about 900g, or 2lbs.
  • To make the florets, cut the cauliflower vertically into four wedges. Then cut the hard stem out of each of the wedges and gently separate them into large florets. This will provide a lot of flat edges to help with the cooking and colouring of the florets.
  • Amchur is dried mango powder and is readily available from Indian grocers.

private notes

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Serving: 200 g | Calories: 212 kcal | Carbohydrates: 24 g | Protein: 5 g | Fat: 12 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g | Sodium: 731 mg | Potassium: 758 mg | Fiber: 7 g | Sugar: 10 g | Vitamin A: 153 IU | Vitamin C: 104 mg | Calcium: 82 mg | Iron: 2 mg
4.84 from 6 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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