Lucknowi Achari Gobi

Cauliflower cooked in pickling spices with turmeric, chilli and mango powder

Lucknowi Achari Gobi (2)

When I look through my book of hand written notes from my travels there are many stories and recipes I still have left to share. I suppose my space here gives me a chance to do that (albeit not as often as I’d like to!) I travel to India a few times every year not just with a view to explore the cities, vibrant cultures but also to sample the food and what it has to offer across communities and local homes. Some of the best meals I’ve eaten have been homemade by my family, friends & people I have met across the country. That said I’m a huge fan of street food and having grown up eating such a variety of delectable chaat in Mumbai, suffice to say I’m hooked for life. I know a lot of the chaat thelawallas and also places where to find the best aloo tikki, pani puri, bhel or sev puri. A lot of the chaat in Mumbai makes its way to the city with influences from UP (the state of Uttar Pradesh) and it’s no surprise if you ask a local Bombay street vendor where he originally hails from chances are he might say he has a connection to Allahabad, Lucknow, Kanpur or Benares. There different versions of chaat in a city like Mumbai, which you can find across the country. Pani puri in Mumbai is also known as Pani ke Patashe in Lucknow.

A recent trip to Bombay I visited an old college friend who promised me the best chaat I’d ever eaten would be at her home. It came as no surprise to me that their cook hails from Kanpur. He was more than happy to rustle up an absolute feast of Indian street bites for us and needless to say all of which was finger licking good. I went back for seconds and thirds! I got chatting with him. Suresh was proud of his culture and the food from the community he hailed from. Keen to show that he was equally versatile in other Indian dishes from his home state he spoke of some recipes he cooked for the family. While he was talking about it all with great enthusiasm, I wanted to make sure I scribbled down some of his tips on cooking on a piece of paper to try when I got back to my kitchen. His stories and dishes that he described were nothing short of inspirational.

As an ode to his hometown and to highlight the delicious flavours here is my recipe of Lucknowi Achari Gobi inspired by Suresh Talwar.

There are of course regional variations of Achari dishes. ‘Achari’ means pickling which is made using a mix of spices. And most vegetables, meat or chicken is used to make it. With the climate in so many northern states reaching a record high this is a clever way to preserve vegetables. And keeps for days after cooking too. I use mustard oil when making this cauliflower dish which gives it a gorgeous pungent flavour and hint of deep colour, so I’d urge you to get some for this recipe; although you can swap it for regular sunflower oil if you prefer a milder flavour. The balance of spices and flavour in most of my cooking is key and with achari gobi being a dry dish the acidity in this recipe is achieved by adding Amchoor (dried mango powder) which give it a delicious tang. Serve this dish with roti or pulao of your choice.


  1. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, fenugreek, fennel and nigella seeds to a mixer and grind to a coarse mix. Separately add the green chillies with a pinch of salt to a pestle and mortar and grind to a paste. Set aside. Blend the garlic and ginger to a smooth paste with a splash of water and set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan over a medium flame. Add the asafoetida and the coarsely ground spice mix. Fry for 20 seconds and add the onions cook them for 12 minutes stirring well. As they begin to soften add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a minute.

  3. Add the turmeric powder, stir well and add the cauliflower florets along with the coriander powder. Season to taste. Fry for a 2-3 minutes stirring continuously. Add 150mls water and the green chilli paste. Stir well and cook over a low heat with a lid on for 14 minutes. Stir a couple of times through the cooking.Lucknowi Achari Gobi

  4. Add amchoor powder and sugar continue cooking for a minute. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve warm with roti, naan or pulao.

  • Shumaila Chauhan

    I just bought gobhi from the market today and was going to prepare it my traditional way, but I think I am going to try this out. Thanks for sharing your stories and recipes.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you! Hope you enjoy it x

  • Ant

    I made this a day or two ago, and I can honestly say it was absolutely amazing!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you thank you! Very kind and so wonderful to hear youve enjoyed it x

  • Nancy Sosnowski

    I made this the other day and it is delicious! Thank you!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yay! Love this dish I serve it with pulao and such a treat using cauli with spices.

  • salma

    thanku for posting all the receipes….just curious to know the difference between white onion and redonion……which dishes we can use white onions…

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Red onions have a touch of sweetness when fried so depending on the dish you can used either.

  • Sharbani Mukerjee

    I made this recipe and it was very tasty. The only mistake i made was perhaps that I used onion paste instead of roughly chopped onions.
    Also didn’t realize that the spices are also known as the “paanch phoron” in bengali.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  • saranya

    What’s a good substitute for Nigella seeds?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      You can leave them out if you wish. Kalonji/ Nigella seeds have a lovely peppery note in flavour which is hard tp replicate in anyother spice.

  • Thomas Hogarth

    I love this dish, its basically a regular side now whenever I cook, I just wish I could make it consistently, sometimes a little too bitter, spicy, sweet, but its SO easy to balance it out and make it perfect.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yay! Indian food is all about balance so this is great. Add chilli as much as you prefer too and make the recipe tailor to your taste.


Maunika's Indian Recipes App

Maunika’s Indian Recipe’s App is a guide to cooking delicious Indian curries, filled with over 400 recipes. From quick mid week meals, weekend brunch ideas, curries for family & friends. Get access to lots of recipes that have been developed exclusively for the App, along with top restaurants, places to visit including my favourite markets, resorts and street food stalls, and upcoming cookery events.