This curry is from Gujarat state, which has a predominantly vegetarian population. The tomato sauce, with flecks of coconut and spices, gets its zing from tamarind, a signature flavor in their cuisine. Midweek I do use ready-made curry pastes and spice mixtures such as garam masala, but this is one dish that especially benefits from freshly toasted and ground spices.—Jennifer Joyce

Cauliflower and Tomato Curry FAQs

What is tomato passata?

Passata is uncooked crushed tomatoes that have been strained to remove all the seeds and skins. It’s also sold as “tomato purée” in North American grocery stores. Easily recognizable because it’s the one that’s sold in the tall, slim glass bottles, it’s also thicker than tomato juice. It’s smoother than crushed tomatoes and makes for thick, smooth sauces. If you’re short on bottled passata, you can press canned crushed tomatoes through a sieve for the same result.

What can I make ahead of time?

You can make the curry base the day before but don’t add the cauliflower. Cool the mixture, then cover and refrigerate. Gently reheat it in a saucepan and, when it is simmering, add the
cauliflower and cook until tender, as above.

How do I make sure that my cauliflower cooks evenly?

The best way is to ensure that it’s all cut into even-sized pieces. 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.

A metal pot filled with cauliflower and tomato curry with a ladle resting inside, and a bowl of rice, a bowl of chutney and a pile of cilantro stems on the side.

Cauliflower and Tomato Curry

4.50 / 4 votes
Cauliflower and tomato curry is a healthy and robust vegan dinner that's full of flavorsome spices that will fill your kitchen with warming aromas. Not to mention the exceptional job it does of filling bellies, too.
David Leite
Servings3 to 4 servings
Calories245 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour


  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 dried long red chile (Kashmiri chile, if available)
  • 2 medium (14 oz) onions, 1 quartered, 1 thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 thumb-size green chile peppers, 1 halved and seeded, 1 thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons black or yellow mustard seeds
  • One (14-ounce) can tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
  • 1 3/4 oz tamarind purée
  • 1 generous cup store-bought vegetable broth or homemade vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated, shredded coconut
  • 1 medium (1 lb 2 oz) cauliflower, cut into florets

To serve


  • In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and the dried chile until fragrant, 40 seconds to 2 minutes. Dump the toasted spices into a spice grinder and process until finely ground.
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the quartered onion, garlic, ginger, and the halved green chile and purée until smooth. If using a food processor, it may take several minutes for the mixture to become completely smooth.
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the sliced onion and the puréed onion mixture and season well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Stir in the ground spices, turmeric, and mustard seeds and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato passata, tamarind purée, stock, and coconut and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower, reduce heat to low, then simmer until the cauliflower is knife tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Serve the curry with cilantro leaves, sliced green chile, steamed rice, and mango chutney.

Adapted From

My Street Food Kitchen

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 245 kcalCarbohydrates: 50 gProtein: 9 gFat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 2 gSodium: 515 mgPotassium: 1484 mgFiber: 12 gSugar: 27 gVitamin A: 904 IUVitamin C: 110 mgCalcium: 135 mgIron: 5 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Jennifer Joyce. Photo © 2021 Jean Cazals. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This cauliflower and tomato curry had such a beautifully developed flavor that it tasted as though it had been simmering all day. The tender onions and fragrant toasted spice blend perfectly complemented the tender cauliflower. Much to my surprise, my kids gobbled it up and no one even commented that there wasn’t any meat.

Maybe it’s me, but while I never dislike cauliflower, I find that to be truly outstanding, it needs some serious spicing up. This cauliflower and tomato curry recipe does the job and more. Yes, there are faster and/or more hands-off ways to get your cauliflower to the table, but do you really want roasted cauliflower again?

This curry is the answer to your cauliflower ennui. Sufficiently spiced to be stimulating, without being remotely tongue-scorching, it is beautifully balanced. Add a dal and rice, and you have a simple, yet delicious, vegetarian meal.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 4 stars
    Hands down the most unique curry I’ve ever had. I don’t know about you, but when I see curry, certain aromas and flavors pop into my head. And this time, they were basically off target. Sure, some of the spices were there but not all put together and a little different. It was so nice because we could taste every flavor – the coriander, the fennel, the cumin, the pepper. And, of course, the ginger and garlic. A nice, creamy sauce to go along with all those wonderful flavors. Easy to put together although my onion and puree didn’t really brown, even after 15 minutes. NBD. Also, we used more coconut as a garnish along with the green chili and cilantro. Seemed the 2T in the recipe got kind of lost. The best part? Healthy!

    1. Curry variations are infinite and we are happy to hear that you embraced this one! Yes, great flavors, easy, and healthy—wonderful all around. Thank you for writing, Greg!