This delicious and savory vegan cauliflower tikka masala is inspired by the traditional Indian tikka masala. It's made with roasted cauliflower combined with a savory and spicy plant-based sauce. Serve it with your favorite grain or naan and it's sure to become a family favorite.
Whenever I go out to eat at an Indian restaurant, one of my favorite dishes to order is a paneer tikka masala. If made well, it's usually exploding with flavor and taste, but usually leaves me feeling sleepy and bloated.
This cauliflower tikka masala is a plant-based version of one of my favorite Indian dishes and so easy to make at home.
What is tikka masala?
Tikka masala is a spiced Indian curry sauce. It's creamy and has a vibrant orange color. and made with a cream base, ghee or oil, a medley of spices, and usually combined with paneer, an Indian cheese, or chicken.
This recipe uses coconut milk as the base instead of a dairy base. It's just as delicious but also adds a subtle sweetness. The spices overpower the taste of the coconut so you'll enjoy this combination even if you're not a huge fan of coconut milk.
The roasted cauliflower makes a delicious substitute for the traditional paneer or chicken.
Ingredients you'll need
When it comes to any kind of tikka masala, spices are important. The combination of spices is what brings this dish to life.
For this cauliflower tikka masala, I picked Indian spices that easy to find in most grocery stores:
- Cumin: A spice found in most Indian dishes. Use either ground cumin or cumin seeds.
- Coriander: This aromatic spice add flavor and more healing properties to this dish. I remember when I first learned that coriander is the same as cilantro. It's easy to find in the spice section.
- Turmeric: Not only known for its healing properties, but turmeric also gives this dish a beautiful and vibrant color. Always be careful handling turmeric because it stains everything it touches, including your nails.
- Garam masala: Garam masala can be a little harder to find and while it's not necessary, it adds a little more to this dish. So if you have it on hand, use it. Otherwise, don't worry about it as your tikka masala will still taste delicious.
How to make a cauliflower tikka masala
Once you have all of the ingredients, this dish comes together in less than an hour.
1. Prepare the cauliflower and onions: In a bowl, toss the cauliflower, onion, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the cauliflower and onion mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
2. Prepare the tikka masala: While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the tikka masala sauce. In a blender, combine the coconut milk, tomatoes, water, garlic, ginger, and spices. Blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a large pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a slight boil and immediately reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Pro tip: If you don't like a subtle taste of coconut milk, substitute the coconut milk with cashew cream by blending ¾ cup of raw cashews with ½ cup of water.
3. Add roasted cauliflower and onion mixture: Add the roasted cauliflower and onion mixture and stir until coated. Simmer for a couple more minutes and turn off the heat.
4. Garnish and serve: Serve with Indian Basmati rice, brown rice, quinoa, or naan.
Once your tikka masala is ready, you have a few options on how to serve this delicious dish. Here are my favorites:
- Naan: Dipping some warm delicious naan is some cauliflower tikka masala is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this dish.
- Rice: Cook a batch of brown rice, jasmine rice or white Basmati rice and serve the cauliflower tikka masala on a bed of rice. Delicious, savory, and comforting.
- Quinoa: An alternative to naan or rice is quinoa, which can be cooked on the stovetop or a pressure cooker.
Storing for later
Store leftovers in an air-tight glass container. Be sure to cool the tikka masala down before doing this. When you're ready to enjoy it, just warm it up in a pot.
The sauce may have thickened so feel to add a few tablespoons of water to bring it back to life.
More Indian recipes
I hope you love this cauliflower tikka masala recipe as much as I do. Sign up for email updates to receive new recipes delivered to your inbox or check out my new cookbook Plant Power Bowls.
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
Tikka Masala Sauce
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Basmati rice
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Prepare the roasted cauliflower and onions. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower, onion, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the cauliflower and onion mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Prepare the tikka masala sauce. In a high-speed blender, combine the coconut milk, tomatoes, water, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a large pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the roasted cauliflower and onion mixture and stir until coated. Simmer for 2 more minutes and turn off the heat.
- Assemble each bowl with half of the rice and tikka masala. Garnish with the cilantro and a lemon wedge.
This recipe will be my new go-to when I am craving Indian food, but don't want to spend the money/want to eat homemade!
For some reason, mine turned out a little more watery than anticipated, even though I simmered for longer than ten mins. This could have to do with the coconut milk? My coconut milk was watery with chunks, and it was hard to gauge how many solid pieces to put in versus water. Next time, I will likely use less water and more of the chunks. I will also probably add less than 1 cup of water.
Thanks so much!
I really love this recipe! I'm fairly new with these flavors and love to double the recipe and add some tomato paste, marsala garam spice and extra garlic.. So very yummy! Thank you!
Is the diced tomatoes a cup of canned with juice and all or fresh tomatoes that you dice?
Pam, I used canned tomatoes (but poured out the juice) and it worked well!
Hello, can we use yoghurt instead of coconut milk or what can we use instead? Thank you
Sapana Chandra says
If you eat dairy, you could use Greek yogurt. If you're vegan, I'd suggest using a cashew cream (blending 1/2 cup of cashews with 1 cup of water).
I’m obsessed with this recipe!
Sapana Chandra says
So happy to hear!
This might just be my new favorite recipe. SO GOOD.
Sapana Chandra says
So glad you love it!