Recipes / Charred Whole Cauliflower with Mustard Seeds

Charred Whole Cauliflower with Mustard Seeds

By Mark Bittman

Published February 1, 2024

Charred whole cauliflower has become a vegetarian phenomenon, with good reason. My technique keeps the drama to one pan.

Photo: Aya Brackett
Photo: Aya Brackett
The following may contain affiliate links for which we earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting us in this way!

Make The Recipe!

Charred Whole Cauliflower with Mustard Seeds

Prevent your screen from going dark

Makes 4 servings 1x

Time about 90 minutes

Units Scale


  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • Pepper
  • 1 lime, halved


  1. Heat the oven to 450°F and position the rack in the middle. Put a kettle of water on to boil. Trim any discolored leaves from the cauliflower and cut off the bottom but leave the core intact. Rub the cauliflower all over with 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil and a generous pinch of salt. Put it in an ovenproof medium skillet and cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
  2. Transfer the skillet to the oven, carefully pull the rack out, lift up a corner of foil, and pour 1/2 inch boiling water into the skillet. Reseal tightly and roast the cauliflower until a knife inserted near the core meets only some resistance, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil, pour off all but a thin film of water from the pan, and continue roasting until the cauliflower is deeply browned and tender to the core, 25 to 35 minutes, always making sure there is a little water in the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, put the remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan with the garlic and ginger over medium-low heat. When it starts to sizzle, cook, stirring frequently until the garlic and ginger puff a little and turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the mustard seeds and cook until they pop, a minute or 2. Remove from the heat and add the paprika, cayenne, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let the mixture steep while the cauliflower roasts.
  4. When the cauliflower is ready, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and let it cool a bit. Put the saucepan with the seasoned oil over medium- low heat to rewarm and squeeze in the lime; taste and adjust the seasoning. Quarter the cauli- flower and open it up into wedges. Drizzle the oil over all and serve.