Cauliflower’s lack of flavor is one of the characteristics that make it such a popular vegetable. With the right seasonings, it can work in a wide range of savory applications. Some of the best spices for cauliflower include:
Garlic is one of those seasonings that can work in just about any savory dish. It is a great addition to cauliflower because of its ability to elevate bland foods on its own or with other spices.
Garlic powder works especially well because you can easily coat the uneven exterior of a cauliflower head if you plan to roast it but minced or finely chopped garlic can work as well. Garlic powder can give cauliflower a pungent, earthy nuttiness and a concentrated savory character.
Earthy and slightly bitter, cumin is a key spice in a range of Indian and Latin American dishes. Cumin’s savory warmth helps to intensify the flavors of the other spices used on cauliflower. Cauliflower is a popular vegetable in India and is used in dishes like aloo gobi in which it is combined with potato and seasoned heavily with cumin and other spices.
Onions are useful for intensifying the savory properties of vegetable dishes including those that contain cauliflower. Onions are related to garlic and just like garlic, they bring a pungent vegetal quality to cauliflower that can help to remedy its tastelessness.
Both chopped onion and onion powder will work well with cauliflower but the onion powder will season it more evenly. Onion is one of the essential flavors for oven-roasted cauliflower but is important for Indian cauliflower dishes as well.
You won’t see ginger in many western cauliflower preparations but you will see it in aloo gobi along with other Indian and Indian-style dishes that feature the vegetable. The warm, sweet heat from the ginger rhizome will pair nicely with garlic and cumin to provide a spicy and complex flavor profile for the vegetable.
One of the key ingredients in Indian cuisine, turmeric is known mostly for its bright yellow color and less so for its flavor. Turmeric comes from a rhizome in the same family as ginger but with a dramatically different flavor profile and color.
Turmeric does have a very mild earthiness and bitterness that you may recognize as a background note in curry powder. It shows up in many of the dishes with cauliflower. Turmeric can also be used to enhance the color and nutritional value of cauliflower even in western-style preparations. Use it to dust oven-roasted cauliflower or in a dipping sauce for raw cauliflower.
Made from dried and powdered green mangos, mango powder is a popular Indian spice that is often used on cauliflower and other vegetables. It is one of the essential ingredients in Indian aloo gobi. Its primary flavor is sourness but there is also a little sweetness and fruitiness in the background. Mango powder is sometimes referred to as amchur or amchoor.
Not only will paprika add a dash of bright red to complement the paleness of cauliflower, but it can also add a little fruitiness and even mild heat in some cases. Because it consists of dried and ground red pepper, paprika is perfect for sprinkling on when oven roasting cauliflower and it is sometimes listed among the ingredients in Western versions of Indian aloo gobi.