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BBQ Cauliflower Shawarma, Pomegranate, Tahini, and Pine Nuts Recipe

Ever grill an entire head of cauliflower? You should.
July 6, 2016, 1:53pm
BBQ Cauliflower Shawarma, Pomegranate, Tahini, and Pine Nuts Recipe
Photo by Tom Bowles

The aim is to burn the cauliflower in parts. This lends to its flavor but also is pleasing on the eye and a key aspect of the presentation.

Servings: 4
Total time: 45 minutes


1 whole cauliflower (about 3 3/4pounds)

for the tahini sauce:
1/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon Maldon salt

for the shawarma-spiced butter:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, juiced
pinch of ground cardamom
pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, minced


to serve:
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 teaspoon dried rose petals
olive oil, for drizzling


1. Trim the outer cauliflower leaves, but don't be afraid to leave some on– they have great taste and add to the aesthetic of the dish when burnt and crisped on the barbecue.

2. Place the cauliflower in enough salted water to cover and bring to a boil over high. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes more, or until a knife pierced in it retains some resistance.

3. Make the tahini sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until smooth. Slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons water until smooth and silky.

4. Make the shawarma butter: In a blender, purée the butter with the cinnamon, sumac, allspice, garlic, lemon juice, cardamom, and nutmeg. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.

5. Brush the cauliflower liberally all over with the butter, and where possible, try and get beneath the floret canopy to reach the inner sections of the cauliflower. Retain some of the butter for brushing at a later stage.

6. Light a grill. If using charcoal, bank to coal to one side for direct grilling and leave an area for indirect cooking. Grill the cauliflower on direct heat, turning occasionally and basting with the extra butter, until blackened all over, 10 to 12 minutes.

7. To serve, transfer the cauliflower to a plate and spoon over the tahini sauce and pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and rose petals and drizzle with olive oil.