Grandmother’s Cauliflower with Cheese (Cheese Vali Gobi)

(recipe, Madhur Jaffrey)


I don’t have my grandmother’s exact recipe. I never asked her, being too young at the time to know better. But the recipe here is a good approximation (as Jimmy Durante, the American comedian, used to say, “Da nose knows”) and utterly delicious.


  1. 2 Tbsp. olive oil or other vegetable oil
  2. 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  3. 1½ lb. (8 cups) medium-sized cauliflower florets, cut so each floret has a stem
  4. 1¾ cups grated fresh tomatoes
  5. 1 piece of fresh ginger, one inch square, peeled and grated to a pulp on the finest part of a grater or Microplane
  6. 2 fresh hot green chiles, cut into slim rounds (see Note)
  7. ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  8. ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  9. 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  10. ¾ tsp. salt, or to taste
  11. ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  12. 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  13. ¼ cup coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Pour the oil into a large, preferably nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the cauliflower florets and stir them around for 2 minutes. Add the grated tomatoes, ginger, chiles, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, and salt. Stir to mix. Stir and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the tomatoes are almost absorbed and the cauliflower is almost done. Add the cilantro and mix it in.
  3. Put the contents of the pan into an ovenproof dish about 8 inches square, add the cream, mix, and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Put in the top third of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and developed a few light brown spots. Serve hot.


Do not use jalapeño or serrano chiles for Indian dishes; they have the wrong texture and flavor. Green bird’s-eye chiles or any long, slim, thin-skinned variety, such as cayenne, are ideal. If you can’t find them, use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper instead of 1/4 teaspoon.