Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomegranate, Pine Nuts and Rose

In this on-trend Middle Eastern recipe, cauliflower is marinated in a spiced shawarma butter and roasted whole for a brilliant vegetarian barbecue dish.

Berber & Q
From the book Berber & Q
By

Introduction

If there were a single dish – the dish – that has come to symbolise Berber & Q, a ‘signature’ so to speak, it would be our cauliflower shawarma.

Serves 4-8

Ingredients

For the shawarma- spiced butter:
40g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground sumac
1½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground allspice
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cardamom
For the cauliflower:
1 whole cauliflower
For the garnish:
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1½ tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 small green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
1 tsp dried rose petals
1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
extra virgin olive oil (optional)
For the tahina sauce:
100g tahina paste
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
100ml iced water

Instructions

FOR THE TAHINA SAUCE (makes 220g)

Pour the tahini paste into a bowl and add the lemon juice and garlic (if using). Gradually whisk in the iced water, bit by bit, as you pour.

The tahini will thicken at first to a very coarse paste, but will loosen to form a thick sauce with the consistency of honey as you add more of the iced water. Season with salt to taste.

Alternatively, you can blitz the tahini in a food processor or whisk together using a stand mixer, adding the water gradually to combine.

FOR THE SHAWARMA-SPICED BUTTER

Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer and mix using the paddle attachment. In the absence of a mixer, whisk in a large bowl until thoroughly incorporated. The butter should be aerated, slightly stiff and one colour (as opposed to streaked). Set aside until needed. It can be kept in the fridge for several weeks, but must be brought to room temperature before being used.

FOR THE CAULIFLOWER

Trim some of the outer cauliflower leaves, but leave some stragglers left behind – they taste delicious and look great when burnt and crisped. Set a large saucepan of salted water on high heat and cover with a lid so as to bring the water up to the boil. Once the water is boiling, gently lower the cauliflower into the pan, being careful not to let it drop from a height and thereby avoiding the potential of burning yourself with the splash-back of boiling water, which nobody wants, least of all you. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium so the water has a gentle roll. The intention is to par-cook the cauliflower before finishing it in the oven or on the barbecue. It should be removed from the water when tender to a knife, yet retain some resistance – ‘al dente’, as they say. It’s important not to overcook the cauliflower. Much like pasta or a lovely piece of steak, cauliflower doesn’t like being cooked for too long. We’ve found it to take 7 minutes from when the water comes back to the boil. Set the cauliflower on a cooling rack over a roasting tray and allow to drip-dry. Brush liberally all over with the spiced butter, and where possible, try and get beneath the floret canopy to reach the inner sections. Retain some of the butter for brushing at a later stage. Season generously with salt and pepper.

TO FINISH THE CAULIFLOWER

Preheat the oven to its highest setting (240°C/220°C Fan/Gas mark 9) and blast the cauliflower for 5–7 minutes, until blackened all over. (You want it to lightly char, not to form an acrid burnt crust.) Once sufficiently oven-roasted, transfer it to finish on the barbecue for a few minutes (if you have one going) for a final hit of smokiness, basting it periodically with any leftover butter.

TO GARNISH AND SERVE

Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon over 4 tablespoons of the tahina sauce and the pomegranate molasses, and finish by sprinkling over the pine nuts, green chilli, pomegranate seeds, rose petals and parsley. A drizzle of olive oil adds a nice glossy finish. Serve immediately – the cauliflower tastes so much better when hot.

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