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Cauliflower Bhaji (Subji) – Easy Low Carb Indian Side Dish Recipe

The BEST Cauliflower bhaji recipe! – A simple Indian side dish of thinly sliced cauliflower, pan fried with onions, garlic, ginger, and seasoned with common Indian spices and aromatics.

Both quick and easy, this keto Indian cauliflower recipe will brighten any meal you pair it with. 

Low Carb Cauliflower bhaji in a black pan

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)




Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost or effort to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through the link and make a purchase.

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
pan fried Indian cauliflower bhaji

What is Cauliflower Bhaji?

Cauliflower bhaji, (also known and subji, cauliflower sabzi, or gobi sabji) is a vegetable dish made from cauliflower (gobi) pan fried with traditional Indian aromatics and spices such as panch phoran, turmeric, curry leaves, and cilantro.

This simple cauliflower bhaji is kind of a “dry curry” recipe and is a low carb version of my family aloo gobi recipe. Made without potato this bhaji recipe is perfect for low carb and keto diets thanks to it low net carb count.

Bhaji is a popular meal with vegetarians however I always grew up with bhaji as one of many side dishes served with curry, kebab, or other protein focused main dishes. This authentic Indian bhaji is vegetarian, low carb, and gluten free

Low Carb Main Dishes That Pair With Bhaji

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. 

Just like my low carb celeriac bhaji recipe, this is designed to replace the various carb heavy potato dishes commonly served alongside curry, kebab, and other Indian or Desi style mains. 

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.

Turmeric, Panch Phoran (Indian 5 spice) on a spoon, fresh curry leaves in the background

Curry Leaves

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

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.

Food photography of ground Turmeric on a spoon with spices in the background


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
A well is formed in celeriac to expose the hot [an and temper Indian spices
A well is formed to expose the hot pan and temper the spices while cooking Indian celeriac Bhaji

Cauliflower Bhaji Net Carbs and Calories

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 of cauliflower bhaji 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.


Is cauliflower bhaji keto?

This recipe is a low carb version of my family aloo gobi recipe. Made without potato this bhaji is keto friendly. 

Is cauliflower bhaji gluten free?

This recipe contains no starch, wheat, or gluten of any kind. 

Where can I buy panch phoran?

You can purchase panch phoran online, or if you have an specialty Indian grocer near you, you can purchase it there. 

Panch phoran can also be made by mixing, 1 tablespoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, and mustard seeds.

Is this bhaji the same as cauliflower sabzi?

Bhaji, sabzi, subji, sabji, are all similar terms that allude to a “vegetable dish”. This bhaji could also be referred to as a subji.

Can I use dried curry leaves?

Both fresh or dried curry leaves can be used for this recipe. You may need less dried curry leaves depending on how strong their flavour is. 

Can I freeze cauliflower bhaji?

Cauliflower bhaji should not be frozen. Freezing and thawing cooked cauliflower drastically changes its texture making it less appealing.

How to make a Low Carb Indian Cauliflower Bhaji

Easy Cauliflower Bhaji (Low Carb)

Keto Cauliflower Bhaji in a pan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 190 kcal
Net Carbs 7 g
Rate this Recipe
Cauliflower Bhaji is an easy Indian side dish of pan fried cauliflower, aromatic, and whole spices. This simple vegetarian recipe is low in carbs and pairs well with curry and kebab for a satisfying keto friendly meal.

IMPORTANT – There are often Frequently Asked Questions within the blog post that you may find helpful. Simply scroll back up to read them!



  • 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 fresh or dried (optional)
  • 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
  • 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


Panch Phoran: Sometimes called Indian 5 spices is a whole spice blend that you can make yourself, purchased online, or from specialty grocers. 
Must be properly tempered to achieve proper flavours. You can learn how to temper spices in the post above. 
Curry Leaves: Fresh or dried and available at specialty Indian grocers or, grow your own!
Grocery stores near cities may carry both curry leaves in the produce section and panch phoran in the ethnic section.
Green Chillies: Any hot chili can be used here, hot Thai chilies (red or green) work great as do jalapenos and Serrano.
Cauliflower Bhaji is a simple keto friendly side dish recipe that is bursting with authentic Indian flavours! Click To Tweet


Calories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 10.8gProtein: 3gFat: 16.1gSaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 550mgPotassium: 500mgFiber: 3.7gSugar: 3.4gVitamin A: 500IUVitamin C: 69mgIron: 2.1mgSugar Alcohols: 0.1gNet Carbs: 7g

Nutritional information is calculated using the recipe calculator and verified database available from Cronometer. Although every reasonable effort is made to provide accurate information this estimate is provided as courteously and convenience only. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe.

Try the free recipe calculator at Cronometer
Did you give this a try?Mention @yummyforadam or use #yummyforadam on instagram!
Looking for a different low carb recipe?Something you don't see here or looking for a low carb version of your favourite recipe? Let me know so I can get working on it! Contact me directly or leave a comment!
Keywords: cauliflower recipe, Indian keto, Indian side dish

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Keto Indian Cauliflower Bhaji topped with fresh cilantro

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, this recipe also pairs well with grilled meat like chicken, fish, and beef, or anywhere you are looking for an easy and flavourful low carb side dish.

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 healthy keto 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
Keto cauliflower bhaji, garnished

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 Indian bhaji.

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.  


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