Cauliflower with Nigella (Kalonji)


This is one bowlful where the simplicity leads the flavors,  a very Bengali recipe, made with very Bengali seasonings & cooked by not so Bengali husband. This is  a recipe well loved & perfected by my hubby after many trials. The taste of childhood still lingers with him, when his Bong neighbors would sometimes treat them with this cauliflower. But when you are a kid, you do not ask for recipes. Ever since we got married, I heard him talking about this, expecting his Bong wife to recreate his fond memories, but the magic in my hands did not match the magic of his neighbors. At last he gave up on my trials & picked up the task himself. I will proudly say that he nailed it this time & we did have a very lovely treat with “Luchi” (Poori is called Luchi in Bengal & it is made with maida instead of the regular wheat flour).

A lot of recipes from West Bengal are cooked without any use of onion & garlic. So the taste & flavor solely rely of the right use of spices. I am not very sure how commonly Kalo Jeera/Kalonji/Nigella seeds is used in other states of India, except may be in pickles & flatbreads… but in Bengal it is a must have in the spice box. It is one of the 5 spices of the “Panch Phoron”, & I grew up eating vegetables & lentils simply seasoned with kalonji, cumin, hot green peppers & of course mustard oil. I remember the Fish Curries with Hot Peppers & kalonji & the Sunday brunches with Kalo Jeera/Kalonji Parathas with very light potato curry, or Luchi with  something like the recipe which we are going to present today. It is a very easily done recipe, where the vegetables are just barely seasoned & then covered & cooked at low heat to seal in the flavors.


  1. 1 large Cauliflower, florets broken in to medium sized pieces
  2. 2 Medium Size Potatoes, peeled & cut into 1″ cubes
  3. 2 tablespoons Mustard Oil (use any other cooking oil, if this is not available, but the mustard oil with the Kalonji adds the very distinctive flavor  here)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Kalonji/Nigella seeds
  5. 1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds (optional)
  6. 4-5  Green Hot Peppers ( I used Serrano.. adjust amount to taste), Slit into four
  7. 1/2 – 3/4   teaspoon Sugar ( Not to make it sweet, but just for the balance of taste)
  8. Salt


Add kalonji/nigella seeds to 1 tablespoon of  oil (save the rest of the oil for later)  & heat the oil. The flavor of the spice infuses in the oil as it heats.

Once they start to sizzle add the mustard seeds if you are using them, & add the green peppers. Be very careful here, for the all the seeds including those of the pepper will pop.

Once the seeds start to pop, add the cauliflower pieces & the cubed potatoes. Toss them for the oil & spices to combine & coat the veggies. Add salt, sugar & stir quickly at high heat for  a few minutes. You will see the cauliflower & the potatoes getting slightly brown at the corners.

Add 1/4 cup water,  & Cover to cook at very low heat.

Uncover, check if done. The Cauliflowers should not be mushy & falling apart. It tastes best if it is tender, but stiff enough for your teeth to bite into it.

Drizzle the rest of the mustard oil on the top & toss to combine.

Serve hot with Pooris.. (deep fried & puffed wheat breads)..

Yes sinfully indulge yourself, for this is what it tastes best with:-) (you can use any flat bread instead of the poori)


This one looks mild, but believe me, with the combination of mustard oil, kalonji & those hot green peppers,  it is far from mild. You will need to feel that unexplainable hit at the other end of your nose to enjoy this.. it will open up your sinuses:-) Sending the cauliflower to Think Spice: Kalonji hosted by Dee of Ammalu’s Kitchen, & the brainchild of Sunita.

Related Posts:

Simple Seasoned Red Lentils  – A Taste of Home
White Potatoes with Nigella
Most Commonly Used Indian Spices

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37 comments to Cauliflower with Nigella (Kalonji)

  • So simple and elegant Gobi, great entry! 🙂

  • Soma..are those kalonji seeds flavorful??I saw them,but thought why to buy just to sprinkle over Nan’s?I loved this curry..looks like our yummy stew in Kerala..guess Il buy kalonji next time.good one dear..:)

  • nice picture… and love the ingredients here – just mustard seeds, kalonji seeds and green peppers 🙂

  • Uma

    This is a simple and delicious curry Soma! Never used kalonji before. 🙂

  • I like the simplicity of this dish and white color. With those luchis must have been a real treat.

  • We don’t use kalonji seeds in Andhra and I’ve never tried them before. Your dish makes me want to buy them. Nice pics.

  • mohana

    Luchi and phoolkopi !!! ohh wow !! nothing can be better off than this combo ! wonderful and real easy recipie !

  • That bowl of curry looks soo tempting Soma! Cauliflower florets have never looked better! I wish I could eat the whole bowlful right now, actually I might as well grab the poori’s too 😀

  • I like your photos. The capture the taste of the food well. I have never used Nigella seeds. I see them on naan a lot in some recipes. Must give it a try soon.

  • Simple and tempting Soma!!! Nice pictures… Perfect side for rotis…

  • sandeepa

    Luchi’r sathe heavy jomeche, ami ektu turmeric di jodio

  • Cham

    Simple and burst in flavor! Great entry !

  • Great entry for the event. Havent used kalonji. Sounds great.

  • I do not know what is better – the picture or the recipe!! This is a hit at my place. I use kalonji in most of my North Indian cooking. It has a lovely flavor!

  • i soo love the flavaour of kalonji. Love it especially in the punjabi dishes, or atleast thats where i have used them, so far. Lovely simple dish!

  • Soma,
    I love to use kalonji seeds, they look so appetizing in your dish. Cauliflower is my favorite cruciferous veggie and yours make for a great side dish as well! I also use the black seed oil in my soaps and creams.

  • Hi,
    Thanks a lot for ur visit at my blog, the encouraging comment means a lot to me as am a budding cook…and very enthu to try lots and lots of things. I think U R a great cook and have a great blog, I used to visit u quite often (once long bk had hopped from sandeepa’s blog to urs) but hadn’t left any lines for u ….
    Ur’s and sandeepa’s blog have inspired me to try some bong recipes (am married to a bong! am a Manglorean :))
    The Gobi recipe looks simply superb I truly believe the flavour rules this dish and it’s amazing! Do visit me wd love to see u around.
    Happy weekend.

  • Ann

    Soma,totally right there on your write up…lol about the first part…
    luchis are totally yummy i feel soma..but just to add to what you have written there,they use mustard oil to fry them..dont know whats the gives that authentic feel to any bengali food..great and simply great
    Soma,what you said about the right usage of spices is a too diffcult task really..without onions and garlic,ha,many cooks will be disappointed there..this is a cooking you can master only with time and brain..lovely.
    can imagine the flavour sitting here..thanks for sharing Soma.

    Thanks! I am a Bong, but never had the Luchis deep fried in mustard oil, if you meant that. actually when i was little they would be fried in pure ghee, & they would look like white puffs… which changed later of course… but most of the use of mustard oil in Bengali dishes does give that authentic touch.

  • Yay!New cauliflower recipe to try..This looks so simple and flavorful..i’m always in search of different cauliflower curry time when I buy gobhi I’m gonna give this a shot.Thanks!

  • It really looks so simple and yummy! Hats off to ur hubby to rolling up his sleeves and whipping up something so delicious! At my place I get to hear the complaints till I get it right 😉

  • simply superb looks so yum and perfect entry

  • would like to try this soon

  • Sounds and looks fantastic. I love kalonji seeds. Suddenly I am craving cauliflower!

  • Cauliflower and potato is a great combination and in my opinion tastes good anyways. Adding Kalonji/Nigella is new to me. The pictures look great.

  • Doesnt look spicy at all… very deceiving

  • amar one of the favorite dish with luchi……….taste just great ..congratulation to your husband…

  • soma

    Thanks all of you.. !! For those of you who haven’t used kalonji, give it a try.. really worth it:-D

  • i love the flavour of mustard oil & kalonji..this must be so good

  • I haven’t used kalonji before but recently bought a packet 😉 Dying to try it but get lazy over weekends to look for a recipe and try it.

  • I adore cauliflower, especially the simpler dishes where it’s mild flavour can come out.

  • I have a bag of nigella and have no idea what to do with except sprinkle it on flatbreads and whatnot. Thanks for this recipe!

  • feel like hvin this with parathas,..

  • I adore cauliflower and almost taste this already. Wonderful!

  • I have lately got too much into cauliflower! And love kalonji. This sounds like a perfect dish. Most of the basic Indian dishes start with onions and garlic and I actually love the fact that this doesn’t. Should be great as a side dish with Dal. Thanks for posting 🙂

  • Rio

    Just made this-
    Is the proportion for the sugar 1/2-3/4 TSP, TBS?…I accidentally used 1/4 CUP before I realized that it didn’t have the measurement-and that, since you said it was NOT to make it sweet, I assume it was a smaller proportion. There’s a definite sweetness, but am eating it anyway-it actually offsets the FIERY serranos that I used from my garden-WOOO! Just the thing for an autumn night’s fare.

    Yikes!! that sugar was meant to be in teaspoon!!! you could also skip it and would not miss it much. So sorry. Can’t believe how careless it was of me to miss that. Updated the post. Thank you so much.

  • Rio

    No worries!(we are all busy these days)
    I’m looking forward to trying this again soon. I enjoyed the simplicity, and the flavors nicely complemented the cauliflower. It was the first time I used black cumin seed, and am now going to add it to my spice drawer!

  • […] gobi aloo made at my home. I found this at this wonderful site featuring bangali recipes – here. This dish has made me fall in love with kalonji again – you might remember me talking about […]

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