This delicious (and Vegan!) Chickpea Tikka Masala recipe hits the spot when you’re craving Indian food. Serve it up over rice and garnish with plenty of fresh cilantro!
So you may have noticed that I’ve been sharing lots of plant-based recipes.
I switched to sharing only meatless recipes three years ago. While I’ve dabbled in vegan recipes in the past, I’m only recently getting really into eating a plant-based diet.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to start sharing only vegan recipes, but don’t be surprised if you see more recipes calling for coconut oil and less recipes calling for butter.
Of course, you are always more than welcome to make adjustments to suit your own diet. You do you!
Indian food has always been one of my favorites, but I love it even more because it’s so easy to make vegetarian or vegan.
In fact, I have almost twenty vegetarian and vegan Indian recipes in the archives!
When I’m looking for a plant-based way to get my daily protein, there are always plenty of Indian chickpea recipes I can whip up.
Now I have another go-to recipe to add to my meal-prep schedule: Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala!
Why You’ll Love Chickpea Tikka Masala
Let me tell you all about this delicious chickpea tikka masala recipe.
- Super tasty and richly spiced… but you only need one spice jar!
- Hearty and loaded with roasted cauliflower
- Naturally gluten free so you’re safe to serve it at your next get-together (why not plan a Vegetarian Indian Dinner Party?)
- Dairy free, egg free, and nut free (except for the coconut… just kidding)
I can’t get enough of this vegan masala. It just might be my new favorite comfort food.
It’s easy to fall in love with recipes like this one!
FOR THE CAULIFLOWER
3 cups cauliflower florets – about half a head
1 tablespoon coconut oil – melted
2 teaspoons garam masala
¼ teaspoon table salt
FOR THE CHICKPEA MASALA
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion – finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes – chopped
¼ cup minced cilantro stems and leaves – reserve some leaves for garnish
4 teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon table salt
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
5 large cloves garlic – peeled and grated
1 two-inch piece of ginger root – grated*
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas – or one 14-ounce can
2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
Reserved cilantro leaves for garnish
How to Make Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala
To really nail this chickpea tikka masala recipe, you’ll need about 45 minutes.
Trust me, it is going to be worth it!
Before you start on the vegan tikka masala sauce, pre-heat the oven, season the cauliflower, and start roasting it.
Now, on to the sauce.
To make a bangin’ tikka masala sauce, you don’t need to spend all day toasting spices.
Now, I love freshly-toasted spices as much as the next person. However, I’m on the road a lot and I don’t always have ten jars of spices with me. Also, sometimes you just can’t be bothered, am I right?
Anyway, for this recipe all you need is one spice mix: garam masala. Garam masala is a blend of Indian spices used in many different Indian recipes.
If you’re going to rely on one thing to make such a big impact on your dish, you should go for the good stuff.
My absolute favorite garam masala mix is from Frontier Natural and is sold on Amazon.
Okay, now that you’ve got your spice mix, let’s talk tomatoes.
A lot of masala recipes call for diced tomatoes, but not this one. Why? Because I think that biting into a piece of canned tomato takes away from the flavor of the sauce.
Instead, I use a mix of chopped fresh tomatoes and canned crushed tomatoes. If you’re in a pinch, you can replace the fresh tomatoes with canned.
The spices and tomatoes get simmered in oil over medium heat along with some fresh ginger, garlic, and onions.
I like to use coconut oil instead of extra virgin olive oil for two reasons:
1) the taste of the oil compliments the canned coconut milk we’ll add in at the end, and
2) since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it provides a more luscious butter-like mouth-feel to the finished dish.
That’s right. I said butter-like mouth-feel. I’m sticking with it.
Now ladle half the sauce into a blender (or use my favorite kitchen gadget, this immersion blender) and puree until smooth. You can skip this step if you prefer a chunkier sauce, but I think this step is what makes the masala sauce *next level*. Transfer the puree back to the pan.
Now fold the roasted cauliflower and drained and rinsed chickpeas into the vegan masala sauce.
Let it simmer for a bit to infuse the flavors.
Stir in the full fat coconut milk…
…and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Serve this chickpea tikka masala with rice and/or naan bread and you’re good to go!
Here are a few tips for the best chickpea tikka masala.
Make sure that your Garam Masala spices are of a good quality and are fresh. This quality and freshness of this spice makes a big difference in this dish.
After the mixture start to boil, turn down the heat and just simmer so the flavors will mix well.
Do not throw out the leftovers, but store them for another day. The flavors will mix even more overnight and taste even better, so this is a great recipe to make a day ahead!
Store leftovers in the fridge for 5-6 days in an airtight container.
For longer storage, freeze in a freezer bag or airtight container for 2-3 months.
To reheat, simply reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. If reheating from frozen, then let the tikka masala thaw overnight in the fridge.
More Delicious Tikka Masala and Indian Recipes
Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe
To Prepare the Cauliflower
- 3 cups cauliflower florets - about half a head
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil - melted
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
For the Chickpea Masala
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion - finely chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes - chopped
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro stems and leaves - reserve some leaves for garnish
- 4 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 5 large cloves garlic - peeled and grated
- 1 two-inch piece of ginger root - grated*
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas - or one 14-ounce can
- 2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
- Reserved cilantro leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cauliflower in a medium mixing bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons of the garam masala. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.
- Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt two tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and cook for 3 minutes to soften. Add the fresh tomatoes and cilantro; season with a pinch of salt. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until the water has evaporated and the tomatoes appear dry (about 5 minutes).
- Add the garam masala to the pan, stir well, and cook for 1 minute to toast the spices. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and a half-can of water. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the garlic, ginger, and red wine vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower has finished cooking.
- Transfer half of the sauce mixture to a blender and puree.** Return the sauce to the pan. Fold in the drained and rinsed chickpeas and roasted cauliflower. Taste and add salt as needed. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 5 minutes to infuse the flavors.
- Garnish with remaining cilantro leaves and serve over a bed of cooked basmati rice.
Don’t forget to save this vegan tikka masala recipe to your dinner ideas board on Pinterest!