Musallam literally means whole or complete.
Gobi Musallam is a dish made with a whole piece of roasted cauliflower which is cooked with mildly spiced creamy gravy.
Gobi Musallam is a dish which is inspired by the famous stuffed chicken dish called Murg Musallam, where the whole chicken was stuffed with boiled eggs, keema(minced lamb meat), which is marinated and cooked in a rich makhni gravy, and delicately flavoured with whole spices. This dish gained its popularity because of its royal heritage as it was cooked in the imperial kitchens of Mughals. This dish is also a centerpiece of Avadhi lavishness. Awadh (which is now known as Lucknow) invented 'dum' style of cooking or an art of cooking on slow fire. So basically, Gobi Musallam is actually a vegetarian version created by adapting these two imperial styles of cooking. The whole head of cauliflower is blanched then tossed in oil to fry or is roasted and drenched in makhani gravy, cooked on slow fire and served whole.
You can serve this with usual Indian fixes of flat breads like naan, parantha, roti or even with the rice or pulao.
I was introduced to this dish when I got married; my mum-in-law would prepare this dish on special occasions. I learnt it from her and gave my own little spin to it. It certainly is an attractive center piece dish. I love to serve this stunning dish whenever I have a get together or a lavish dinner party as this is one of those dishes which always grabs my guests’ attention.
I am really excited to share this beautiful finger-licking vegetarian dish which is deep, rich and perfectly balanced with harmony of spices blended together that elevates this humble cauliflower dish to a delicious gourmet standard.
Try making this dish following the step by step instructions given in the method, and I’m sure you will win the hearts of even your hardcore non-vegetarian eaters. Read the cook’s notes for a slight variation of cooking the recipe.
If you want to see all the processes in action, I've made an easy-to-follow tutorial as well for this royal dish, watch it here!
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOKING TIME: 45-50 minutes
For Blanching Cauliflower:
4 small cauliflowers
Large cooking Pot
Water for boiling
1/2 tbsp salt
2 tsp turmeric/haldi
3 large onions, cut into eights
5-6 fat garlic cloves
2.5” piece ginger, peeled roughly chopped
3 large tomatoes, blanched, deskinned and puréed
1-2 green chillies, chopped
6 tbsp oil
4 cups oil for frying
1 tsp cumin/jeera
2 bay leaves/tej patta
1 cinnamon stick/dalchini
4-5 green cardamom, slightly bruised
2 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt or to taste
2/3 cup yogurt
3-4 tsp sugar
1/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup water
1 tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
3-4 tbsp fresh cream (use coconut cream to make it vegan)
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2-3 tsp fresh cream
Wash and trim the green stalks or leaves from the cauliflowers. Remove the extra long stem, keeping intact some stem upto the base of cauliflower.
In large cooking pot, pour enough water to fully immerse the cauliflowers. Bring it to boil. Once boiled, add salt and turmeric. Immerse the cauliflowers in the water, cover the lid and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes, until they are par boiled.
With a slotted spoon, remove cauliflowers from the water, drain them on absorbent paper.
Now heat the oil for frying in a wok or deep pan, gently slide in the cauliflowers and deep fry until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and keep aside until used.
In a blender jar, add onions, garlic and ginger, blend to a coarse consistency.
Heat a large pot, then add 6 tablespoons of oil used for frying the cauliflowers, add cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cardamom and bay leaves. Roast for few seconds to release the aromas from whole spices. Add blended onions, give it a stir for few seconds and then add green chillies. On a high flame, keep stirring in frequent intervals for about 7-8 minutes until well roasted and light brownish in color but not burnt.
While the onions are getting roasted, make the cashew paste. In a small blender jar, drop cashews along with 1/3 cup of water and blend to a smooth paste. Keep aside until needed.
Reduce flame and add salt, turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and stir for few seconds to roast the spices. Now add the tomato purée, increase the flame to high, stir and cook. After 5 minutes add tomato paste and keep stirring every now and then. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until tomatoes shrink down, all the water is evaporated from them and oil is separated from the masala.
Now whisk the yogurt and add it to the prepared onion and tomato masala. Add a little water (about 1/4 cup), and cook further stirring frequently for another 4-5 minutes until its nice thick and creamy. Add sugar and stir.
Pour the prepared cashew paste, stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes on slow fire until its rich, creamy and thick in consistency. Add little water if it starts sticking to the bottom.
Add kasuri methi and stir. Reduce the heat, add cream and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine. Check seasoning, add more if required. Place the fried cauliflowers gently in the pot, spoon some gravy on top of the florets to coat them well. Cover the lid and simmer for 5-6 minutes on low flame.
With a flat wide serving spoon, gently remove cauliflowers from the gravy and place them on the serving platter. Pour the gravy on top of the florets using a ladle. To garnish, drizzle cream on top and sprinkle chopped coriander. Serve with paranthas, naan or roti.
Do not over boil the cauliflowers as it will break apart when you cook it in the sauce and serve.
This dish can be prepared in advance but keep the gravy and cauliflowers ready separately. Just before serving, heat the gravy by adding little water, place the cauliflowers in the gravy and follow the rest of the recipe.
To make this vegan friendly, replace the cream with coconut milk.
Alternatively this dish can also be cooked by roasting it in the oven. Once the gravy is ready, place the cauliflower heads upside down in a baking dish, pour pour some gravy on them to deep through the cavities of the cauliflower head. Carefully turn them all around and pour the rest of the gravy on of all to cover them completely. Place in preheated oven at 200°C and cook for about 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the cauliflowers. For even roasting results turn the baking dish around halfway during baking.
To make it bit more appealing to the eyes, garnish with silver leaves and lightly toasted flaked almonds.