SEEMA Cooks: Tart, Spicy, Pickled Cauliflower

Sep/10/2021 / by Malathy Chandrasekhar
Image courtesy of Healthy Indian

When the pandemic hit last year, we started buying way more groceries than we needed – almost hoarding! It was the fear that stores may run out of stuff, so better get extra and store it. What do you say when you see all those empty shelves at stores (which never happens in normal times)? Grocery stores were charging more for the same stuff, and we didn’t really seem to care as long as we got what we wanted.

Want Not, Waste Not

All the same, I was concerned about how much I was wasting. Growing up in an Indian middle-class family (grandparents included) was a lesson in saving, every day. My grandfather’s favorite saying was”‘want not waste not.” It never made sense to me when I was a kid, but all those lessons have come back with an intensity that surprises me now.

Old Fashioned Trade-in

I remember when my mom would save used old saris in exchange for which she would get new steel utensils. Even today when I go back to my family home in India (we have had this house since 1975), I see this guy going around on a bicycle with two large sacks hanging at the back, yelling “I will buy old stuff.” He would pay pennies for things like an old radio, a garden scissors, or a set of kitchen knives. It could be anything that he saw some value in and could make some money from. He knew his customers well! And mom’s idea was, “I was going to get rid of it anyway, so why not get some cash in the process.” Seems like another lifetime!

Farmers’ Market

Early this spring, we started seeing these messages on our Nextdoor app that there was a farmer’s market close by that was selling fresh produce at very reasonable prices. We looked them up. It was a restaurant supplier that had lost business and decided to go directly to the consumers. They were open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. We got there on a Saturday at about 11 a.m. It was an open area, they were maintaining social distancing, and everyone was wearing masks, so it made us comfortable.

We were definitely not prepared for the quantity we had buy. The produce was packed in 2-pound units. Especially with the broccoli and cauliflower we got, realized there was no way we could consume all of it before it went bad. We normally buy one small bag of cut and washed broccoli/cauliflower for salads. This was about four times that!

Cauliflower Recipe Ideas

I started making a mental list of all the recipes I could make with cauliflower and started planning my meals. We have a Ninja Air Fryer in our pantry that I had never tried. I kept telling myself I should try it since I heard so many good things about it. Especially healthy fried food – was that even possible?! I looked online for cauliflower pakoda (battered and fried cauliflower) recipes and found one that showed promise. I followed the instructions on the batter and frying and let me tell you: I was impressed! With hardly any oil, these were crispy on the outside and crunchy-soft on the inside. Absolutely delicious! I’ll be working on this recipe soon to give a step-by-step account on how to make this.

Tart Spicy Pickled Cauliflower

The next thing I remembered was the delicious cauliflower pickle my mom used to make in the winters (India winters are super mild). when we used to get plenty of fresh cauliflower. I called her at a decent hour (the time difference is always a challenge). Luckily, my sister was there, too. Between the two of them, they gave me a good idea of the quantity, ingredients and the process. I’m happy to say that it turned out perfect: crunchy, tart, spicy. It lasts in the fridge for at least 4 to 6 weeks. I strongly recommend you try this at home. It’s a real winner!

Why Is This Healthy?

The nutrition profile of cauliflower is quite impressive. Considered a super food because of its nutrient-rich content, it is high in fiber, and vitamins B and C. It also contains high concentrations of carotenoids (antioxidants) and glucosinolates (sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables), which help protect cells from DNA damage. Mustard seeds qualified as a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and manganese as well as a good source of phosphorus, copper, and vitamin B1.

The Recipe

This crunchy cauliflower pickle is a real winner! It is easy to make, and adds a punch to sandwiches, subs or salads.

Course: Pickles

Cuisine: Indian

Special diet: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, no added sugar, raw, vegan, vegetarian

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Refrigeration time: 1 day

Total time: 1 day 15 minutes

Serves: 10

Calories: 35kcal


  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, small pieces (washed, dried)
  • 1 clove of garlic, medium sized
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder (blend mustard seeds in a spice blender)
  • 1 tsp sea salt – or to taste
  • 1 tbsp lLime juice – or to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


Make sure you have these ingredients ready as you start working on this recipe:

  • Cauliflower florets washed and dried well
  • Garlic clove blended with 2-3 cauliflower florets
  • Mustard seed powder
  • Turmeric
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Lime
  • Sesame oil
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium flame, add mustard and cumin seeds, allow them to crackle.
  2. Add garlic/cauliflower blend and cook till golden brown- we’ll refer to this as our seasoning.
  3. Add cauliflower florets, seasoning (from previous step), turmeric, salt, mustard powder, chili powder, lime juice and sesame oil in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. The tart, spicy, pickled cauliflower is ready! Refrigerate in an airtight glass container and leave it for 24 hours for all the different flavors to blend in.
  5. Serve with your favorite meal.


Enjoy this pickle with a meal of rice, vegetables, and lentils, try it with your salad, burger or sandwich. Tastes amazing!

*Use organic ingredients wherever possible

For the full recipe, click here

Healthy Indian empowers people to live a nourishing, healthy lifestyle. It provides recipes of healing foods for the body and soul, yoga movements, Ayurveda, gardening and much more. So, look around, soak in the goodness, and join them as they revolutionize what it means to live healthy. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr for healthy, easy and delicious recipes and lifestyle tips.

For more by this author, be sure to check out Crispy Air Fryer Tofu and Tofu Pakoda

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