Turmeric Cauliflower Curry

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

Many years ago, I ran a vegetarian restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana. One of our Indian friends and customers gave me this recipe, which I’ve revised over the years. (Thank you, Santosh, wherever you are!)

This is a nice curry for a weeknight since it doesn’t involve too much heavy lifting. There are many versions in India, of course, but this one makes a substantial vegetarian meal.

The official name for this dish is “shahi” cauliflower curry. The word shahi roughly translates as “royal,” and it is indeed a royal dish!

Shahi Cauliflower Curry

Turmeric is the lead spice in this curry. It’s what gives the curry its sunny yellow color, and is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s the superfood of spices.

By the way, here’s a good trick for cutting apart the cauliflower, which I learned on the job at my first restaurant near Woodstock, New York. Our friendly neighbor, chef, and mentor taught us to cut a deep cross at the base and then separate the head into quarters. Slice away the core and outer leaves. Then, with a paring knife, cut between the little “branches” to make florets.

Serve this easy vegetarian curry with naan bread, cucumber raita, and a salad, and dinner is done!

Turmeric Cauliflower Curry Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 poblano chili pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, quartered, for garnish

Special equipment:


1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2 While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the cauliflower and potatoes: Cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch cubes. To prepare the cauliflower, use a chef's knife to cut a deep cross into the base of the cauliflower. Place your thumbs into the crevice and pull the head apart into 4 quarters Stand each quarter upright, and slice off and discard the core and outer leaves. Break or cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets.

Shahi Cauliflower Curry Shahi Cauliflower Curry Shahi Cauliflower Curry

3 Cook the potatoes and cauliflower: Carefully transfer the potatoes into the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender. (Total cooking time is 14 to 15 minutes) Drain into a colander.

3 Make the curry sauce: In a blender or food processor, combine the water, onion, chili pepper, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, and salt. Puree until smooth.

Shahi Cauliflower Curry Shahi Cauliflower Curry

4 Cook the curry sauce: Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked cauliflower and potatoes. Taste and add more salt and garam masala, if you like.

5 Finish the dish: Stir the peas and tomatoes into the pot. Heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until hot. Just before serving, stir in the yogurt and reheat gently (do not let it boil, or the yogurt may curdle.)

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of two cookbooks (Food for Friends and The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

More from Sally

Shahi Cauliflower Curry

Showing 4 of 10 Comments

  • Gina

    This looks delicious! Do you think it would work to use coconut milk as a substitute for the yogurt?

  • Robert

    Do you peel the ginger? And where does one get the garam masala? I’ve never heard of it. Thanks for cauliflower tip!

  • Jackson

    i’m always looking for tasty recipes using turmeric. thanks sally!

  • Lauren

    Oh what was your restaurant called? I went to IU! Lived there 2001-2005. I miss bloomington.

  • xeno

    This looks like a great idea for my (so far futile or unwelcome) attempts at Meatless Mondays. Now if only I could find cauliflower for cheap. Maybe it would work with frozen…

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