January 13, 2013

Indian-Style Cauliflower Rice (grain/gluten-free)

When I was growing up, I hated rice. Despised it. Just looking at that perfectly formed white clump of mushy rice on my lunch room tray made me sick. At home, it wasn't much better. No offense, Mom.

Then one day, in adulthood, I discovered boxed cheesy rice. And I was in love. You know the rice I'm talking about. It has a package of powdered cheese mixture and it was creamy and delicious. I ate it for weeks straight. Sometimes it was the four cheese and sometimes the cheese and broccoli. Eventually, I tapered off and only ate in once in awhile. But it wasn't until I was in Japan that I truly enjoyed plain white rice. Whether in sushi or as a side dish with a little soy sauce. Eaten with chopsticks of course.

Indian Style Cauliflower Rice (gluten/grain free)

As I began my confusing journey towards understanding food and what I should and shouldn't eat, I switched to brown rice. They said brown rice was better for you. But, I never enjoyed it. There was just something about perfectly cooked white rice that couldn't be beat. Once you have it, brown rice will never compare. Yet, I reluctantly shoved down brown rice day after day, grumbling as I ate it. (And yes, I did give up that boxed rice that included partially hydrogenated oil, MSG, and so many other ingredients that shouldn't be in rice.)

As I discovered the Whole30 and realized I had to give up rice, I was ecstatic. (And by the way, later I read this about brown rice not necessarily being better than white. I don't care it it's true. If I eat rice again, it will be white. Most likely accompanied by seaweed and fish or veggies). Doing the Whole30 leads you into a whole world full of initially strange replacements, such as spaghetti squash, zucchini pasta, and cauliflower rice. And there are a lot of recipes out there for cauliflower rice, but I went to one of the best for my initial attempt.

Now that I'm a pro at basic white (cauliflower) rice, I've been experimenting with different spices and additions. This Indian style rice has been one of my favorites. Even if you don't like Indian food, give this a try. The flavors are subtle and you can easily adjust it for your own taste. Cilantro is optional, but if you don't have an aversion to cilantro, then you should add it.

Indian Style Cauliflower Rice (gluten/grain free)
Indian-Style Cauliflower Rice 
(Serves about 6)  

What you need:

1 medium head cauliflower
1 small/med yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp ghee (or coconut oil)
1/3 cup water or chicken broth
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 heaping tsp ground ginger
pinch cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
2 green cardamom pods (or pinch ground)
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste (I use 1/2 - 1 tsp)
Handful cilantro (optional)
Slice of lemon or lime (optional)

How to make:

1. Cut onions into thin slices (or diced, your choice). Mince the garlic cloves. Alternatively, you may add both to food processor and chop to desired consistency. Be careful not to process too long.

2. Chop the florets off of the cauliflower head. Process (in batches if necessary) in your food processor until the cauliflower is the size of rice grains. Several pulses usually works for me. (You can also do this with a grater.)

3. Heat skillet (one with a lid) over low/med heat. Add ghee and spices, except for salt and pepper. (If you use cardamom pods, lightly smash the pods with the side of a knife before adding them. You will have to remove the pods later. Otherwise, you can remove the seeds from the pods and grind them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.) Heat spices for a minute, then add onions, salt, and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, add garlic and saute for another 5 minutes or until onions are soft.

4. Add cauliflower and water or broth. Stir. Cover pan, turn heat to low, cook rice for 10-15 or until the rice is cooked to your preference. Stir at least once during cooking. (Fish out the cardamom pods if you used them. Trust me, you don't want to bite into one of those.) Turn off heat and add a handful of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir to combine.

*If you prefer a firmer cauliflower rice, leave out the broth and simply saute the rice uncovered, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes or until cooked to preference. 

Note: Your rice might not look as yellow as mine. I usually add extra turmeric. I buy turmeric and other spices in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Serve with this tandoori chicken.

Indian-Style Cauliflower Rice (grain/gluten-free)


  1. A very colorful recipe with very nice images.

  2. Livin' the Crunchy LifeJune 1, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Thank you :)

  3. Just made this and it was fantastic!

  4. Livin' the Crunchy LifeJanuary 17, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Hi Alex! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you thought. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I haven't made this in awhile...I think I need to add it to my menu next week! Thanks :)


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