Indian Spiced Cauliflower Rice (Paleo and Low-Carb)

cauliflower rice

There’s been a lot of interest in the Paleo diet recently.  This is a diet originally proposed in the 1970s by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, later elaborated on by Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner, and popularized by nutrition researcher Loren Cordain in his  2002 book, The Paleo Diet.  This diet, which proposes a diet low in carbohydrates and high in animal and plant proteins, has really taken off in the last few years as people have pursued the low-carb pathway to weight loss and blood sugar control.  While the jury is still out on whether this diet is truly what our caveman ancestors ate and even if avoidance of carbohydrates is recommended for everyone, it’s certainly not a bad idea to have alternatives for all the refined grains that are such a large part of diets around the world.

As someone who grew up eating white rice every night, I will never give up rice entirely.  But the very popular rice substitute that’s been circulating the internet for the last few low-carb years, cauliflower “rice,” is a flavorful substitute for when you want something rice-like, but prefer to avoid grains.  More important than that, it’s a great way to introduce another serving of the powerful cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower, into your diet.  Like its cruciferous cousins, including kale, cabbage, collard greens, broccoli and more, cauliflower contains nutrients with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and potentially anti-cancer benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of choline, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin, and a good source of vitamin B2, protein, vitamin B1, niacin, and magnesium.

For those of you who attended my presentation and cooking demonstration, Prescription Nutrition, at the San Carlos Library a few weeks ago, you know how simple this recipe is.  A cutting board, knife, a mini food-processor if possible, and a frying pan are all you need to make this, in mere minutes.

This recipe is a great accompaniment to last week’s Indian Spiced Kale.  It also pairs wonderfully with Francis Lam’s Chicken Korma, featured a few weeks ago in The New York Times Magazine.

Not in the mood for Indian? This cauliflower rice recipe can be used in any variation– leave out the cumin and cilantro, and you have a blank slate, much as you would with plain rice.  You can use it to make your favorite fried rice, pilaf, plea, biryani and other recipes, and it works just as well as real rice for sopping up curries and other sauces.  The possibilities are endless.

If you have any other ways that you can think of using cauliflower rice or have other carbohydrate substitutes you’ve enjoyed, please leave them in the comments.  And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and are interested in my healthy cooking classes, please head over to my Facebook page:  Please give me a “Like” while you’re there!



Cauliflower “Rice”

This is a good vegetable substitute for rice. You can eat it any way you eat rice—plain, as a side for curries, into fried “rice,” etc. In this case, I’m adding cumin seeds and a garnish of cilantro for an Indian flavor.

Makes 4 cups.

Serves: 4 to 6


1 head cauliflower (about 1 lb)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 tsp salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves


  1. Wash, remove core and leaves, trim, dry completely and coarsely chop the cauliflower. Chop the cauliflower into small florets or pieces small enough to fit into the food processor.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat coconut oil. Add cumin seeds and cook until they make a crackling sound, then add onions and sauté approximately 10 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned.
  3. Meanwhile, place cauliflower pieces in a food processor and process (pulse) until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice. You may need to do this in batches. Process until evenly and coarsely chopped but not completely pulverized.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the prepared cauliflower to the cooked onions in the frying pan. Cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is just slightly tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove from heat and serve. Top with cilantro.

Nutrition Info: Cal 72, Fat 5g, Protein 1g , Sodium 30mg, Sugar 3g

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