Lebanese Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Tahini Recipe

My father tells me the story of a Bedouin man walking on the street with ten dead crows. A walker-by, fascinated by the murder of dead crows, stops the Bedouin to enquire as to the reason he is carrying the birds. “They’re to be eaten of course”, comes the Bedouin’s simple reply. Slightly intrigued, but more horrified, the walker-by insists on finding out more information. “But surely crows can’t be eaten. They are foul creatures with tough, flavourless meat. Bedouins are truly strange folk for eating crows!” he answered. The Bedouin smiles and replies, “Crow’s meat simply needs a deft hand at cooking. First, you feather and clean the bird, removing its guts. Then you take the meat from the bones and discard the bones, as they impart a bad flavour. Then, you mix some flour, salt and cinnamon and cover the meat with it. After pan-frying the bird, you deglaze with lemon juice, and add some olive oil, garlic and coriander, which you fry until the garlic turns golden. Toss the fried meat back in, top with fried pine nuts and experience heaven with some bread and arak”. The walker-by replies, “Great recipe! Do you think it would work equally as well if I used my leather shoes instead of the crows?”

Okay, I admit it’s not the funniest story in the world, but I love my dad, and I love his stories. And this little tale makes for a nice lead in to today’s recipe, cauliflower with tahini and pine nuts. You must agree that cauliflower isn’t the most delicious of vegetables. Boiled, I may go as far as calling it insipid and even downright disgusting. I can’t swallow an unadorned floret of cauliflower without the tapioca rising in my gullet. But deep-fried cauliflower? Praise the Lord! Just like the inedible crow, some skill can turn this figurative frog into a delicious prince. This is the true essence of alchemy. Glittering gold from lowly lead, dazzling diamonds from dirty coal, wonderful butterflies from waggling worms. Paulo Coelho should have written books about this transformation instead. Imagine, white florets devoid of flavour, worthless and well-hated, diving down into the oil, a baptism of  fire, and rising once more, darker, crisper, and sweeter than any vegetable that ever took the plunge. Coat them with thick, creamy tahini, sharp with lemon and hot with garlic, top with fried pine nuts and experience heaven with some bread and arak.

Lebanese Cauliflower with Tahini and Pine Nuts Recipe


  • 1 Cauliflower, broken down to florets
  • ½ cup Fried pine nuts
  • Tahini Sauce
  • 1 cup tahini
  • Juice of 2 or 3 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Prepare the tahini by mixing the ingredients, tasting as you go, and diluting with water to get that thick, creamy consistency
  2. Heat deep frying oil on high
  3. When the oil is ready, deep fry the cauliflower florets in batches until the tops are brown
  4. Sprinkle with some salt, top with pine nuts and tahini and jump in


  • I adore cauliflower now, but as a child my sister and I nicknamed it ‘the unnecessary vegetable’. The name has stuck.
    I actually have a huge vat of tahini and 7 weeks in which to use it. What should I do?

  • Nice story! I actually quite like cauliflower, especially baked with lots of Bechamel sauce!
    I also like them cooked the Indian way (Masala Gobi I think?), but that recipe looks reeeeally good and I shall try it one day 🙂

  • Good timing I just bought a cauliflower today! I’m trying this tonight. BTW I have always hated boiled cauliflower, I usually bake or steam with garlic and olive oil. But this sounds too good not to try. Thanks 🙂

  • This is pure comfort food for me! My Tateh used to make this all the time and we’d roll it up in Lebanese bread and devour, heavenly! There really is no better way to eat cauliflower. Will have to make this on the weekend, really craving it now 😉

  • I don’t mind cauliflower at all, especially with béchamel & cheese but man, your dad makes a good story with cooking crow 🙂 Adding cauli with tahini & pine nuts would be amazing. Great recipe.

  • I thought the story cool… And I actually like cauliflower! I can eat it raw with or without cocktail sauce as a dip. But maybe I am weird.
    As a kid I hated fried cauliflower as hell, when I grew up things changed. To me the Tahini is not a must with it, I can do with just lemon juice and salt. Reminds me been ages since I had any.
    The pine nuts are a nifty idea… I can even imagine the taste mixture…

  • I like Tahini, I snack on pine nuts and I love garlic. But as tempting as this may look, there’s nothing that would get me eating cauliflower again!

    Your dad sounds like an interesting man. A case of an apple not falling far from the tree… 🙂

  • Your Dad tells a great story, it is very funny and full of the wisdom of knowledge of hard times! I love cauliflower in a creamy curry but have never tried deep frying it before, it sounds delicious the way you do it, thanks for the tip!

  • It is true, it can be difficult to make cauli attractive – and I have a teenage son who is particularly resistant to it.
    But deep-frying can make most things instantly better and he likes tahini, so this might be the way to go!

  • Lili. Love the nick name. The unnecessary vegetable indeed! With all that tahini, you have no excuse not to try it. Also, give the baba ghanouj a go with your pomegranates.

    Hello Helen! What’s been happening? Gratin would have worked equally well on the crows I guess too.

    Shou Joumana. Mishta2een. Dad is quite the story teller. Are you still in Lebanon? Maybe you should go visit my parents. They are near Saida, and you would love mom and dad.

    Hi Peter. Give it a go man. You won’t regret it!

    Hiya Sandra. How did it turn out? Dying to know 🙂

    Hi Leah. Yuck! Steamed cauliflower. Terrible… Deep fried all the way!

    Marhaba Christie. Glad I have a supporter. My teta used to make this too. It’s such a great dish, and so so simple

    Hiya Anna. dad has a million and one stories, but I agree, I love this one for the recipe it actually gives you! hehehe.

    Hi Viviane – I agree. Lemon and salt, and even some garlic is good enough. The tahini works nicely because it’s got the flavours of lemon juice, salt and garlic, but it also adds the creaminess. mmmmm…

    Hi Sara. Try it! It will change your life, forever! Hehehe. No, not really, but you’ll love it.

    Corinne, i’m glad to know you are a cauliflower hater too. But trust me, it is a complete metamorphosis. The end result is no longer cauliflower. You MUST try it.

    Hiya Moya. Dad is the best! He is also a poet and a polymath. Love him! Let me know if you try the dish!

    Hello Amanda. You’re right, deep fried (insert any word) is awesome. If the oil is hot and the caulis cook quickly, it’s not overly bad for you either. He’ll love you for it!

  • I LOVE cauliflower, even slightly cooked and then turned into a salad with lots of garlic and black pepper and some olive oil and vinegar.
    Never tried it with tahini but I want to – regarding the recipe, what is the difference between tahini and tahini sauce – you call for both these ingredients in the recipe?

  • Hi Natasa

    tahini is the raw ingredient which is pressed sesame seeds. tahini sauce is the Levantine sauce of tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt which is diluted in a bit of water. The Lebanese call it tarator, but that naming is somewhat confusing, as tarator is completely different in turkish cuisine. Hope that helps.

  • OMG, I tried this tonight! I couldn’t find any tahini so I served up the fried cauliflower with toum and pinenuts but the smell coming from the deep fryer! It was some weird alchemy that transformed the cauli into something beautiful and appetising, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat my cauliflower steamed again! Thank you for this recipe!

  • Hehehe. Thanks Moya! It’s always great to get this kind of feedback. Makes blogging all the more rewarding!

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