For a fragrant, Indian-inspired rice side dish, this aromatic basmati and pairs perfectly with spices like cumin for a deep smokiness and turmeric for color. To make the dish hearty, add sweet, earthy cauliflower. Tossing the cauliflower with a generous amount of black pepper gave it heat and roasting it at a high temperature for a short time caramelizes and crisps the florets.

Spiced Basmati Rice with Cauliflower and Pomegranate [Vegan]





  • 1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 3/4inch florets
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475°F degrees. Toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Arrange cauliflower in single layer in rimmed baking sheet and roast until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes; set aside.
  2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add rice, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until grain edges begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in water and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until rice is tender and water is absorbed, 16 to 18 minutes.
  4. Off heat, lay clean dish towel underneath lid and let pilaf sit for 10 minutes. Add roasted cauliflower to pilaf and fluff gently with fork to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, cilantro, and mint. Serve.