Merguez-spiced cauliflower with tahini and molasses

Once famed for having the best cauliflowers in the world, Aleppo faces more and more unbelievable sadness. As we prepare for Passover in our own ways, perhaps alone like me, due to help ease the spread of Coronavirus. This magnificent dish can also serve as a reminder of the war in Syria, and the millions of displaced people that now face the terror of what a COVID-19 outbreak will be in those camps.

The BBC reported today that “A UN panel says it is “highly probable” that government forces were behind attacks last year on four civilian facilities in northwestern Syria. A school, a healthcare centre, a hospital and a childcare facility in opposition-held areas were hit in air strikes. Yet three were on a list of protected sites. The UN board of inquiry found it “plausible” the government also attacked another healthcare centre. The government has not yet commented. The UN board also said it was “probable” that opposition forces were behind a sixth attack, on a Palestinian refugee camp.”

In this time when we feel we cannot even celebrate with loved ones, let alone help the neediest people, perhaps remembering and adding extra to to the tzedakah box is something we can do.

A small reminder that the word tzedakah means justice, not charity.

From Tom Hunt’s Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet this makes use of a spice mix that’s traditionally used on lamb.

The cauliflower is best served whole and carved at the table to share. To save energy, fill the oven with other ingredients while you’re cooking this – roast veg and meat will keep in the fridge for up to five days, and are handy to have around for making quick meals throughout the week.

Photo courtesy of the Guardian : Tom Hunt/Jenny Zarins

Merguez-Spiced Cauliflower With Tahini And Molasses

Serves 4 – 6


1 head cauliflower, with leaves
1 glug extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground caraway (optional)
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp sea salt
Peel of ½ unwaxed lemon, finely sliced
1 drizzle blackstrap or date molasses
2 tsp black and/or white sesame seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan

For the tahini sauce
60g dark tahini
¼ unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced
½ small garlic clove, peeled
¼ tsp sea salt


Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4. Put the cauliflower on a large sheet of greaseproof paper, big enough to wrap around it. Drizzle the cauliflower generously with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix all the spices and the salt, rub all over the cauliflower, and sprinkle with the lemon peel.

Wrap up the cauliflower in the greaseproof paper, put it on a baking tray, and roast for an hour, until tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Open out the paper and fold it back, then return the cauliflower to the oven at 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5 for a further 20 minutes, or until the outside begins to blacken slightly.

Put all the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a blender with four tablespoons of water and blend smooth – add a touch more water, if need be, to achieve the consistency of double cream.