Gholpi Afghan Stewed Cauliflower
Gholpi Afghan Stewed Cauliflower

This humble Afghani cauliflower stew is bold, flavorful, and comforting. It is an appropriate place on the Sofreh for celebrations such as Eid.

Gholpi is a spicy cauliflower stew that is often served as a vegetarian main course along with warm bread. The cauliflower is seasoned with Advieh (a Persian spice mix), curry powder, turmeric and some tomato paste. It’s so easy to make and cooks in about 25 minutes.

Although gholpi isn’t traditionally served during Eid, it’s one that Khadija blurted out with sparkling eyes and a huge smile on her face when I asked her to teach me how to make her favorite Eid dishes. This is the recipe we cooked together on a Sunday night – the recipe she learned from her mother and that she hopes to teach her children one day.

Advue for seasoning

Advieh simply means “spice” and refers to a blend of spices used in cooking throughout the Middle East. There are mixtures that are used specifically for rice, pickles, meat or stews. Afghan households often make a large batch by grinding nuts, spices, seeds, dried herbs and dried rose petals – it is used as an all-purpose condiment.

The advieh that Khadija uses at home and may be hard to find in this recipe in the US is a homemade blend of almonds, walnuts and dried garlic, cilantro, parsley and chilies. It’s okay to use any mix you can find, as variation from family to family is expected. Well stocked grocery stores in the Middle East stock Advieh or you can find it online.

Felfel are ground red chili peppers that are similar to cayenne pepper but not as hot. Afghans often call it chili powder, but it’s not the same as the chili powder spice mix available in the US. You can find Felfel online or use half the amount of cayenne pepper instead.

Start the onions without oil

Gholpi starts with sautéed onions. BUT! The onions are first cooked dry, without oil or liquid. They release some water as they cook, which creates some steam, and leaving a lid on as much as possible helps trap the steam to soften the onions. Oil is added only after the onions have softened. This is a technique Khadija uses to ensure the onions don’t soak up too much oil.

Serve gholpi with bread

Khadija serves gholpi as a main course with barbari, a Persian sourdough bread about 2.5 cm thick and often topped with sesame or cumin, or lavash, a thin flatbread that is the oldest known bread in the Middle East. The bread is used as silverware to pick up the tender cauliflower florets and coat the sauce.

More Ramadan recipes to try

  • Kabuli Palao (Afghan lamb shank with rice, carrots and raisins)
  • Asparagus pakoras with lemon yogurt sauce
  • Chana Chaat (Jewel Salad)
  • 3 spice brownies

Gholpi (Afghan Braised Cauliflower)

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
25 minutes

total time
35 minutes

up to 6 servings

Gholpi is usually prepared in a ghablama, a wide pan with curved sides that looks like a wok. You can use a wok or large frying pan.

Use any store-bought Indian or Middle Eastern curry powder.


  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 3 Anaheim peppers, divided

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon advieh

  • 1/2 teaspoon Felfel or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Barbari or lavash for serving


  1. Cooking onions:

    Add the onions in a ghablama, wok, or large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry them without oil until tender, about 4 minutes, keeping a lid on as much as possible to trap the steam. It’s okay if they turn brown around the edges. If they start to char, reduce the heat and keep stirring.

    Stir in the oil and reduce the heat to medium. Continue sautéing until onions are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.

  2. Add peppers and spices:

    Cut off the stem and thinly slice 1 Anaheim pepper. Add the strips of pepper, tomato paste, curry powder, advieh, felfel, black pepper and turmeric to the cooked onions. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

  3. Cook cauliflower:

    Stir in the cauliflower florets, 3/4 cup water, and salt. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until you can easily pierce the florets with the tip of a paring knife, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with more salt if needed.

  4. Meanwhile, sour the Anaheim peppers:

    Place a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the remaining 2 Anaheim peppers. Don’t move them until they start to char, then turn them every 2 to 3 minutes to char them completely. This creates some peppery smoke, so open your windows!

  5. Surcharge:

    Transfer the gholpi to a serving platter, being careful not to break or smash the florets. Arrange the charred peppers on top and serve warm with Barbari or Lavash.

    Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!