Lebanese cauliflower tahini (arnabeet mekle) is mildly sweet, salty and sour. The cauliflower is air-fried until crispy golden brown and served with a side of lemon tahini sauce known as tarator.
Traditionally this Lebanese cauliflower tahini recipe, known as arnabeet (or karnabeet) mekle, is fried and not air-fried or oven-roasted.
The Arabic words “arnabeet” translates to "cauliflower" and “mekle” to "fried" in English.
Arnabeet mekle is normally served as a side or as part of a mezze. It is also commonly paired up with homemade fries and made into the tastiest sandwich.
As a kid, Mum would make us a roll of arnabeet mekle and fries with tarator wrapped up in Lebanese bread, it was so delicious. I now make it for my own kids and hubby.
The flavours are amazing, there’s sweetness from the fried cauliflower which is then countered by salt, sourness from the lemon and nuttiness from the tahini sauce.
😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- Ridiculously delicious for the little ingredients
- Very easy to make
- Gluten free and vegan
- Can be enjoyed as a side, part of mezze or in a sandwich
✔️What You’ll Need
Here are notes on some of the ingredients;
Cauliflower - it's best to use fresh cauliflower, use a good quality that has no blemishes. Select one that is at least medium-large in size.
Oil use a good frying oil such as avocado oil
Tahini is a paste made of only sesame seeds. I like to use this brand*, or you can find it at your local Middle Eastern grocer.
Lemon should be freshly squeezed.
Let’s get to how to make Lebanese cauliflower tahini;
Preparing tarator sauce (basic Lebanese tahini sauce);
Step 1 - Place tahini, lemon juice, salt, and water in a bowl and whisk together until all combined and a thick sauce is achieved. Set aside.
Making the arnabeet;
Step 2 - Divide the cauliflower into florets. The stem and leaves can also be chopped up into large bite-sized pieces.
Step 3 - In a mixing bowl, add oil and salt to the cauliflower florets and thoroughly mix together ensuring every floret is covered in oil.
Step 4 - Place cauliflower into the air fryer tray and air fry on high for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Ensure the florets are turned every five minutes.
Step 5 - Serve with the tarator sauce either on the side or drizzled on top along with extra pieces of lemon to squeeze on top. Optional - garnish with finely chopped parsley and a pinch of paprika. Serve immediately.
Traditionally arnabeet is deep-fried. This will result in the crispiest cauliflower and even browning.
Oven-roasted is also an option. Roast in a sheet tray at 220C (425F) until golden brown. Turn midway.
Crushed Garlic can be added to the tarator if desired. Do this to taste.
Finely chopped parsley can be added to the tarator if desired. Just a small spoonful.
I personally like to eat mine in a bowl where I have shredded lettuce underneath.
After washing cauliflower, be sure it is completely dry before frying.
The cauliflower stem and leaves can also be air fried. They are equally delicious.
Fried cauliflower will reduce to approximately half its size. Generally, a medium-large cauliflower yields 4-6 servings.
It is best to serve Lebanese cauliflower tahini immediately as the cauliflower will soften quickly and lose its crispness. Even though it does turn soft it still does taste fabulous.
If making a large batch, turn your oven to warming mode and place the ready air-fried cauliflower florets in the oven whilst waiting to finish all batches. Though note the above point.
If drizzling the air fried cauliflower with the tarator do it just before you serve. Otherwise, serve it on the side with extra lemon pieces.
A garnish of parsley and a pinch of paprika adds aesthetics and should be used as a garnish i.e., use parsley sparingly as it can be strong in flavour if a lot is used.
Air Fryer’s differ in makes & models and have different settings, I recommend keeping an eye out on the cauliflower when you first make this recipe. This is a similar air fryer* to what I am using.
💡What to serve with?
As mentioned previously we sometimes like to enjoy it in a sandwich with fries and a side of salad.
Did you enjoy learning how to make my family’s Lebanese cauliflower tahini known as arnabeet mekle? I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment below and give me a rating. This will help me sustain Plant Based Folk.
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Lebanese Cauliflower Tahini (Air Fried Arnabeet Mekle)
- 1 medium Cauliflower head
- 2 tablespoons Oil any frying oil. You may need a little more or less depending on the size of your cauliflower head.
- ¼ teaspoon Salt add salt at the end if desired to taste
Prepare Tarator (Tahini Dressing)
- Place tahini, lemon juice, salt, and water in a bowl and whisk together until all combined and a thick sauce is achieved. Set aside.1 small Lemon, 5 tablespoons Tahini, 1 pinch Salt, 5 tablespoons Water
- Divide the cauliflower into florets. The stem and leaves can also be chopped up into large bite sized pieces.
- In a mixing bowl, add oil and salt to the cauliflower florets and thoroughly mix together ensuring every floret is covered in oil.1 medium Cauliflower head, 2 tablespoons Oil
- Place cauliflower into the air fryer tray and air fry on high for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Ensure the florets are turned every five minutes.
- Serve with the tarator sauce either on the side or drizzled on top along with extra pieces of lemon. Optional garnish with finely chopped parsley and a pinch of paprika. Serve immediately.