Fried cauliflower

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Fried cauliflower
Israeli fried cauliflower.jpg
Israeli style fried cauliflower
CourseMezze, street food, sandwich, side dish
Main ingredientsCaulflower florets, cooking oil

Fried cauliflower is a popular dish in many cuisines of the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and elsewhere. It may start from raw or cooked cauliflower; it may be dipped in batter or breading; it may be fried in oil, butter, or other fats. It can be served on its own, as a mezze or side dish, or in a sandwich. It is often seasoned with salt, spices, and a variety of sauces, in the Middle East often based on tahini or strained yogurt.

Cauliflower in general, and fried cauliflower in particular, has become increasingly popular in the United States.[1]


Fried cauliflower may start from raw or cooked cauliflower. The cauliflower is separated into florets then deep-fried. It may be fried plain,;[2][3] it may be breaded;[4] it may be battered; or it may be simply floured.[5]

Breaded fried cauliflower in Israel

The plain version is the crispest, though the oiliest;[6] the breaded and battered versions result in a moister, less crisp interior.

After draining, it may be seasoned or sauced in a variety of ways.


Deep-fried and pan-fried cauliflower is found in many cuisines, and is well documented through the 19th century in Germany,[7] Austria,[8] Britain,[9] and the United States.[10] It is often called by its French name, choufleur frit.

Regional versions[edit]


Fried battered cauliflower is served in French cuisine with a tomato sauce as fritot de chou-fleur.[11][12]


A wide variety of fried cauliflower dishes are found in India.

Cauliflower pakoras, battered and spiced fried cauliflower, are popular in North India and Chennai, and may be double-fried for crispness. They can be served with a tomato or peanut chutney.[13]

One Punjabi recipe deep-fries the cauliflower first, then sautés it in spices and yogurt to nap the florets with sauce.[14]


Fried cauliflower is found both in Mizrahi and Sephardic traditions, which were brought to Israel when Jews immigrated to Israel, often as refugees.[15]

Among the Mizrahi, fried cauliflower was often eaten as a mezze before large meals or in various salads (often dressed with tahini sauce, strained yogurt, or citrus juice). Over time, fried cauliflower was adopted as a street food.[16] With the rise of fine dining in Israel, Israeli chefs have incorporated versions of the dish into their cooking, where it may be an important main dish.[17]

In Israel, fried cauliflower is commonly served at falafel, shawarma, hummus, and sabich stands, often in a sandwich or as part of a salad bar: "Fried cauliflower is a staple of falafel-shop salad bars".[16]

It is commonly served plain just with some salt. It may also be served with strained yogurt, tahini sauce, amba, zhug, or other condiments.[18]

The Sephardic version, culupidia frita, is battered and often served with lemon (culupidia frita con limón),[19] which is sometimes simmered with the cauliflower until it evaporates.[20]


An early Italian recipe for fried cauliflower (1822) first parboils it, then breads it and fries it in oil or lard.[21] Various versions of the dish are found in later cookbooks.[22]

It continues to be part of the repertoire of Italian cuisine,[23] and is sold as a street food in Sicily.[24]


In Levantine cuisine as found in Lebanon,[25] Syria, and Palestine fried cauliflower, zahra mekleyah (Arabic: الارنبيط المقلي, زهره مقليه), is served cold or hot.

Zahra mekleyah

It may be served in a sandwich of pita bread or sandwich bread, often toasted and sprinkled with cumin, salt, and lemon juice. It is also served as a side dish.[26]

It may be battered or not.[27]

Common accompaniments include tarator.[28]

Variations include curried and roasted cauliflower, bell peppers, or a garlic lemon vinaigrette. The Syrian menazla zahra is cooked with garlic, ground beef, cilantro, cumin, and salt.[27]

Fried cauliflower is also an ingredient in maqluba, a sort of pilaf with meat and vegetables on top.[29]

United States[edit]

Fried cauliflower from Indian, Israeli, Italian, and Levantine[30] traditions is found in the United States.

The Israeli versions are often found at Israeli, kosher, Jewish, and falafel restaurants. The growing fashion both for cauliflower[1] and for Israeli cuisine[31] has contributed to its popularity.

Some variants include serving with a white wine vinaigrette, currants, and pine nuts,[32] frying a whole head and serving with a beet tahini sauce;[33] or with a herbed labneh sauce.[34]


  1. ^ a b "The Ascension of Cauliflower". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Cooking with Chef Michael Solomonov: Fried Cauliflower". Youtube. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Fried Cauliflower recipe". Chefmarkeats. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  4. ^ "כרובית מטוגנת עם פירורי לחם (Israeli Fried Cauliflower Recipe in Hebrew)". Foods Dictionary. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Recipe:Fried Cauliflower with Currants and Pine Nuts". Michelin Guide. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Cooking with Michael Solomonov: Fried Cauliflower". Youtube. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  7. ^ Theoretisch-praktische Anleitung zur Kochkunst, 1817 p. 656
  8. ^ Allgemeines österreichisches oder neuestes Wiener Kochbuch, 1831 p. 481
  9. ^ Florence B. Jack, Vegetables, Salads, and Vegetable Entremets with Appropriate Sauces, Edinburgh, 1898 p. 23
  10. ^ "Fried Cauliflower", E. Duret, Practical Household Cookery, 1891, p. 365
  11. ^ Auguste Escoffier, Le guide culinaire: aide-mémoire de cuisine pratique, 1903, p. 654
  12. ^ Prosper Montagné; Charlotte Turgeon, Nina Froud, eds. Larousse gastronomique: the encyclopedia of food, wine & cookery, Crown 1961, translation of the 1938 Larousse edition, p. 222
  13. ^ "Cauliflower pakora", Chetna Makan, Chai, Chaat & Chutney: a street food journey through India 2017 s.v.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Adrak te gobhi da kheema", Jiggs Kalra and Pushpesh Pant, Classic Cooking Of Punjab, ISBN 8177645668, 2004, p. 57
  15. ^ Nathan, Joan. King Solomon’s Table.
  16. ^ a b Cook, Solomonov, Steven, Michael. Zahav. Houghton Mifflin Harcout.
  17. ^ Admony, Einat. Shuk. Artisan. ISBN 9781579656720.
  18. ^ "כרובית מטוגנת בפירורי לחם 'Cauliflower fried in bread crumbs'". Nikib. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Lemony Fried Cauliflower", Saveur, September 9, 2013
  20. ^ Gil Marks, The World of Jewish Cooking, 1999, ISBN 0684835592, p. 160
  21. ^ "Per fare un piatto di Cavol-fiore fritto", Il Cuciniere all'uso moderno, 1822, p. 69
  22. ^ "Cavolfiore fritto", Salani, L'arte della cucina, 1917, p. 116
  23. ^ Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, 2011
  24. ^ Anissa Helou, Mediterranean Street Food, 2002, ISBN 0060195967, p. 51
  25. ^ Kamal Al-Faqih, Classic Lebanese Cuisine: 170 Fresh and Healthy Mediterranean Favorites, p. 7
  26. ^ Wolfgang Gockel, Helga Bruns, Syria Lebanon, Nelles Guide, 1998, p. 232
  27. ^ a b Tuder, Stefanie (January 7, 2015). "Creative Uses for Cauliflower, 2015's Oft-Predicted Top Food Trend". ABC News. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
  28. ^ Kamal Mouzawak, Lebanese Home Cooking: Simple, Delicious, Mostly Vegetarian Recipes from the Founder of Beirut's Souk El Tayeb Market, 2015, p. 83
  29. ^ "Maqluba", Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi, Jerusalem, 2012, ISBN 1607743949, p. 127
  30. ^ Kathryn Robinson, Stephanie Irving, Seattle Cheap Eats, 1993, p. 96
  31. ^ "Why Modern Israeli Food Is America's New Favorite Cuisine". Thrillist. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Fried Cauliflower Recipe Balaboosta". Michelin Guide. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  33. ^ Goldfield, Hannah. "Miss Ada and Golda's Modern Spins on Middle Eastern Cooking". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  34. ^ "Fried Cauliflower with Herbed Labneh". Jewish Food Experience. Retrieved 19 October 2019.