Makhani Gobi: Cauliflower in Creamy Tomato Sauce




Gobi Makhani or Gobi Butter Masala is another of the popular “Makhani or Butter Masala” recipes. Any “Makhani” dish speaks eloquently of the magnificence of the Indian cuisine. They all have a stately aura around them. In today’s recipe, the cauliflower florets are cooked in a fragrant and silky sauce draped with cream.

There are some recipes I love to cook because it reminds me of my childhood and my home. And then there are some recipes I love to cook because it makes me feel at home – the home “now”. These are not necessarily the food I grew up eating. These are the kind that are building memories now to be savored later on by my children, the recipes which are appreciated and loved by my family and friends. The food that spread the aroma  and  animation when they start to simmer on the stove and thus bringing every member of the family to the kitchen sniffing their way in, asking me what is cooking that smells so good.

This is one of those recipes that never ceases to please. Every single time this is simmering joyfully on the stove top, there is a rush to “try it out”. The table is set quickly,  Naan is smeared with butter ready to be dipped in that resplendent  sauce and the meal time is a contended place to be.




While Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken) is the well known one, Paneer Makhani/Paneer Butter Masala  and Malai Kofta take the same stand, especially among the vegetarians. Next in line would be Dal Makhani and this Gobi Butter Masala.

The cauliflower is a versatile vegetable, or rather a flower. The texture  takes to absorbing flavors and sauce really well and thus is a good candidate where there is a stage set for complex and scrumptious spices and ingredients. They soak in the aroma of the spices and the sauce as they cook in two distinct steps here. The dish is finally signed off with nut paste and a dash of cream.

Makhani” dishes are the kind that attract immediate attention; the deep orangish hue which comes from slow cooked tomatoes and the aroma where a blend spices simmer and infuse are hard to miss. I think I have posted most of them in the series, including the basic Makhani Sauce that forms the base of all recipes in this line. Slowly over the years, this sauce has become my life saver in many occasions and now I make an effort to make sure that I have some frozen, ready to whip up a dish in short notice.


Gobi Butter Masala Diptych 1



Before I head over to the recipe, I would like to mention something that I have already done before. If you want an authentic Makhani/Butter Masala, please please do not substitute the cream with yogurt. These dishes are not to be cooked for everyday meals. They are rich and are meant to be that way. If you want to enjoy the true essence, and once in a while, it is best of have the right way. (of course it is a personal choice). The texture and the hint of sour in yogurt changes this dish completely. It would be like using drained yogurt because you do not want to use cream to layer a decadent cake. I have tried all kinds before and I have not been convinced that the using yogurt will make it taste the same. While it might not be bad at all, it will not be a Makhani! (The word Makhani comes from Makhan – which in turn refers to the butter or the fresh cream from which butter is made). Please do justice to this dish 🙂


If you do have to lighten up the dish, use less cream, or use thickened milk like half and half.  Another way to save the essence and have it less complex is to increase the amount of the nut paste.






Makhani Gobi: Cauliflower in Creamy Tomato Sauce


Ingredients: (serves 6 – 8 as a side)

  1. 2 small – medium head cauliflower


For the marinade:

  1. 1/2 cup well drained yogurt (make sure the yogurt is fresh and not old or sour)
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 1/2  tablespoon kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves (ready to use packets are available at any Indian grocery store)
  5. 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  6. 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  7. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  8. 2 tablespoon oil


For Sauce:

I have used the “Makhani Masala/Sauce” here. The recipe for the sauce has been posted before and I have the link to the sauce here instead of writing it all over again. The sauce may be made before hand and frozen. The actual cooking time reduces a lot if the sauce is already done.

**(adjust the amount of milk/cream as you would like. If you want a rich creamy one, use more cream. If not, use milk. I do not recommend using yogurt as many recipes do. The yogurt will make it creamy, but will alter the taste and flavor and also make it tart to some extent. It is okay not not use cream; just use more milk with a splash of cream to finish it off., or use a couple of tablespoon of cashew or almond paste along with milk to make it creamy).


  1. 1.5 – 2 cups Makhani Masala (without cream/dairy added to it)adjust amount  as needed as per the size of the cauliflower
  2. 1 – 1.25 cup of milk
  3. 1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy/double cream or half and half
  4. 1 teaspoon kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves, very lightly toasted in a dry skillet and crushed
  5. 2-3 tablespoon of nut paste (raw cashew or soaked peeled and almond  or lightly toasted pine nuts – ground to a paste with a splash of water or milk){the pine nuts are suggested by the author of the blog Preeoccupied} (optional – if you do not want to use cream and still want a thicker and creamy texture for the sauce)




Discard stems and leaves of the cauliflower and break the florets in small to medium size. Wash them well and pat dry. Combine all ingredients (except for the oil) for the marinade in a bowl or ziploc bag. Add the florets in the bag/bowl and toss well for the marinade to coat the florets. Allow them to sit for about 30 minutes.

The florets may be roasted either in the pan or the oven:

Save any marinade and set aside.

In a pan large enough to hold the florets in one layer (or cook in batches), add 2 tablespoon oil. When the oil is shimmering hot add the marinated florets and cook while tossing occasionally until they are half cooked and all the liquid dries up.


In the oven, place all the florets in a single layer in a baking tray and drizzle the oil. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes (cooking time might vary), until the florets are partially cooked and liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan add the Makhani sauce and the milk. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and add the cauliflowers. Simmer partially covered until the cauliflowers are softened but not falling apart. Add the nut paste if you are using and the kasuri methi. Simmer for another five minutes.

Switch off the heat, add the cream, gently stir and cover until ready to serve.

Serve with Paratha, Naan or Vegetable Pulao.


Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6 to 8 as side

Difficulty Level: Intermediate




Related Posts (More Cauliflower Recipes):


Aloo Gobi / Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Pan Fried Cauliflower with Yogurt and Soy Sauce

Curried Potato and Cauliflower Stew with Toasted Peanuts

Cauliflower and Potato in Cream Sauce

Cauliflower Stir Fry in Ginger & Soy Sauce

Cauliflower Tagine With Walnut & Mint Couscous

Cauliflower with Nigella (Kalonji)

Cauliflower with Nuts and Cranberries

Gobi Manchurian/Cauliflower Fritters in Spicy Sauce

Gobi Tamatar/Cauliflower with Tomatoes



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