Oven-baked crispy cauliflower bhajis

I created this recipe when my children came home from school and nursery announcing that they didn’t like cauliflower. Well of course you don’t! Who likes plain cauliflower, boiled in unsalted water, probably by way of a lengthy stint in the deep freeze?! To show them just how awesome the humble cauli can be, I gave the florets a crunchy coating that’s part tempura batter, part bhaji batter. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and not a deep fat fryer in sight!

If this recipe can convert a 3 year old and a six year old, it can convert any cauli-hater. This is honestly one of my favourite mid-week meals now. You’ll be so busy enjoying it, you won’t even notice that a) it’s vegan; b) it’s gluten free; and c) it’s cheap as chips to make.

It’s quite customisable too. Steer it towards the Indian subcontinent by serving it with green chutney, or nudge it in the direction of the Middle East with a tahini dip. You could even serve these crispy little morsels in a taco with guacamole and salsa, though maybe hold off on the pickled jalapenos unless you’ve pre-warned your kids!

Oven-baked crispy cauliflower bhajis

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter or side

  • 5 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 heaped dessert spoons rice flour
  • 2 heaped dessert spoons chickpea (gram) flour
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground fennel
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika (or chilli powder of your choice if you like a bit of a kick)
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • chilled sparkling water to mix
  • ½ cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets
  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (210 fan) with the oil in a deep, heavy bottomed, non-stick roasting tin inside.
  2. In a very large mixing bowl, combine the rice flour and chickpea flour with the spices, baking powder, spring onions and a big pinch of sea salt. Gradually stir in enough chilled sparkling water to make a batter the consistency of a smoothie.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets and stir until each piece is thoroughly coated.
  4. Tip the cauliflower into the hot oil in the baking tin and spread out into a single layer. Roast for 16 minutes.
  5. Turn each piece over and roast for 12 minutes or until the batter is crisp and the cauliflower is tender inside.
  6. Serve as soon as possible with something delicious to dip it in. I love it with the coriander and peanut chutney from my green vegetable pakora recipe.

It really is that easy! No par-boiling, no deep-frying and only one bowl and one roasting tin to wash up. If you want to cook a bigger batch, double the recipe but cook it in two roasting tins. The secret behind that gloriously crispy coating is to give each piece of cauliflower contact with the oil in the bottom of the tin and a chance to dry out the batter on top before turning.

2 thoughts on “Oven-baked crispy cauliflower bhajis”

  • These are absolutely superb and SO moreish. Have made them three times in the last eight days! I serve them with raita and with mango chutney. Thanks for a truly excellent recipe.

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