Keto Cauliflower Bhaji – Easy Low Carb Indian Side Dish Recipe
A simple Indian side dish of thinly sliced cauliflower, pan fried with onions, garlic, ginger, and flavoured with common Indian spices and aromatics.
Both quick and easy, this keto Indian cauliflower recipe will brighten any meal you pair it with.
This low carb side dish is vegetarian, has only 7.3g of net carbs per serving, and is absolutely packed with authentic Indian flavours.
Pair this with: Authentic Indian Chicken Curry (a full guide)
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Simple ingredients that create big Indian flavours
- You can never have too many keto side dishes
- A unique low carb cauliflower side that isn’t cauli rice
- An easy recipe to help you master classic Indian cooking techniques
- A single pan recipe that can conveniently be prepared alongside a curry or other main dish
What Does Cauliflower Bhaji Taste Like?
Keto cauliflower bhaji uses the same Indian aromatics and spices as a traditional aloo (potato) bhaji, or aloo gobi recipe.
Two big flavours present in this dish are panch phoran (Indian 5 spice), and curry leaves.
Both have incredibly unique flavour profiles that while familiar to anyone who loves Indian food, are near impossible to describe if you haven’t tasted them.
Curry leaves are a tougher leaf that tenderizes when properly cooked/tempered and adds a blend of citrusy, lemongrass, and anise like flavours.
Commonly used in Indian cooking, curry leaves can be found fresh or dried at specialty Indian grocers.
Lately I have been getting them fresh from the regular grocery store in the produce section. Of course that will depend where you are shopping.
Panch phoran, also known as Indian 5 spice blend is an equal mix of 5 different aromatic whole seeds: fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed.
One whiff, and you will feel like you just stepped into a little Indian market
You can easily make panch phoran yourself or purchase it: online, from an Indian grocer, or if you are lucky, the ethnic section of the grocery store.
Panch phoran must be properly tempered or fried to remove bitterness, tenderize the seeds, and achieve its full flavour potential.
Another big player in this bhaji recipe is turmeric.
Aside from its claimed health benefits, when handled appropriately, turmeric adds subtle flavours and bold bright colours to any dish.
How to Temper Whole Spices in 3 Steps
Tempering is the frying of whole spices or aromatics, in oil to extract, balance, and distribute their flavours of the spices throughout the dish.
Using panch phoran (Indian 5 spice) as an example:
- Heat oil/ghee over medium-high heat in a wok, skillet or pan. Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a single seed from the panch phoran into the oil. If it pops and sputters you are good to go. If it burns instantly, turn down the heat.
- Add panch phoran and any other aromatics to the hot oil, toss the pan to spread the spices evenly and coat with hot oil. Tempering takes a matter of seconds if the oil is hot enough. Once the panch phoron starts to change color and the cumin and mustard seed begin to pop it is done.
- Once tempering is complete you need to slow the cooking process, or risk burning the spices. Turn the heat to medium and add other ingredients such as onions, garlic, ginger, etc, to the pan and combine.
Notes on tempering panch phoran:
- It can burn very quickly and become bitter. If it starts to get very dark and black it is burnt so keep an eye on it.
- To temper spices in a pan that already contains other ingredients. Make a well to expose to hot bare pan, add oil to heat and temper as you normally would, folding in the other ingredients to slow or stop the temper once complete.
- Many spices and aromatics can be tempered this way such as whole or ground spices, curry leaves, dried chilies, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, etc.
Net Carbs, Nutrition, and Servings
This recipe yields about 6 generous side servings when a large cauliflower is used (6-7 inches [15-20cm] in diameter, about 800-900g)
Each serving contains:
190 cal | 16g fat | 7g net carbs | 3g of protein
With fewer than 10g of net carbs, this recipe is perfect side to any low carb or keto meal.
How to make a Low Carb Indian Cauliflower Bhaji
Keto Cauliflower Bhaji
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Large wok or frying pan
- butter/oil/ghee for frying
- 1 large cauliflower thin slices
- 1 ½ teaspoons panch phoran
- 1 tablespoon turmeric heaping
- 1 small onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger fresh, minced
- 2 whole green chilies
- ½ cup curry leaves (optional) fresh or dried
- salt & pepper to season
- ¼ cup cilantro fresh, chopped
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice garnish
- Break the cauliflower into florets, and cut each floret into many thin slices. Heat oil/butter in a large frying pan and fry the cauliflower for 10-15 minutes, until each piece has started to brown and crisp at the edges. Salt the cauliflower to help draw out moisture.butter/oil/ghee, 1 large cauliflower, salt & pepper
- Once the cauliflower is fried, make a well to expose the bare pan. Add butter/ghee to the well and allow it to get hot. Add the panch phoran and turmeric the the well and fry to temper the spices for less than 1 minute. Once the paunch phoran begins to pop and crackle its done.butter/oil/ghee, 1 ½ teaspoons panch phoran, 1 tablespoon turmeric
- To slow the cooking of the spices, pile the sliced onions, garlic, ginger, and green chilies on top and stir to combine everything in the pan. Add butter/ghee/oil if the pan is getting dry.1 small onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, 2 whole green chilies
- After about 5 minutes add the curry leaves and continue to fry for 10-12 more minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender, and the flavours have combine well.½ cup curry leaves (optional)
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. Stir in fresh chopped green chilies, fresh chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lemon juice, and serve!salt & pepper, ¼ cup cilantro, 3 tablespoons lemon juice
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What to Serve with Cauliflower Bhaji
Much like aloo bhaji or aloo gobi, this recipe is best paired with Indian style curry, kebabs, and mains. Although there really is no limit.
We often enjoy this recipe in place of the rice or flatbread normally used to mop up rich Indian curry gravy.
This low carb recipe is fully vegetarian and can be served as a vegetarian meal.
Try These Alongside this Recipe
5 Tips to Master this Recipe
This recipe is incredibly straightforward, but there are a few tips that can help you nail it every time.
- Slice the cauliflower thin: thin profile slices not only look nice, but it increases the surface area on the pan leading to more browning which means more flavour. It also holds together well to prevent this from turning to a cauliflower mash.
- Don’t rush: Trying to rush through the steps will surely affect the flavours and texture. The cauliflower especially needs some time alone in the hot oil to fry and brown, failing to do this will result in result in a bland mushy cauliflower.
- Toast/temper your spices!: You absolutely have to cook, or fry all spices anytime you use them. Indian cooking is able to use such a high quantity of spices well because they are properly tempered or toasted, which is crucial to removing bitterness and balancing the flavours throughout the dish.
- Don’t add water: When the pan starts to get dry, especially after adding the turmeric, the first instinct is to add some water. Do not. You are trying to remove water from the cauliflower, don’t add it back. Add butter/ghee/oil if needed.
- Fresh herbs at the end: Delicate herbs like cilantro do not need a lot of cooking. Once the bhaji is fully cooked, turn off the heat, add the cilantro and stir it in.
Make Ahead, Leftovers. and Storage
Like most Indian recipes, the flavours of cauliflower bhaji tend to improve over time which makes for excellent leftovers and meal prep.
Store leftovers sealed in the fridge for use within a week.
Reheat in the microwave, or refry in a pan with oil/ghee until warmed through.
Time to Dive in!
Straight from my family cookbook, to your family dinner table. I sincerely hope you enjoy the bold and authentic Indian flavours in this dish.
I am always excited to introduce you to new low carb recipes that help you put something different and exciting on the table.
Especially when the flavours are close to my heart like they are in this cauliflower bhaji recipe.