Cauliflower Tikka Masala

June 28, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

When it comes to swoon-worthy Indian restaurant classics, it doesn’t get any more iconic than chicken tikka masala. I decided to take that creamy, dreamy crowd-pleaser of a dish in a decidedly plant-based direction—with zero compromises on flavor. An unconventional hit of smoked paprika adds depth and complexity, and cashews lend richness without the heaviness of cream. This is a perfect, warming bowl of comfort everyone could use!
Kanchan Koya

What You'll Need
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Cauliflower Tikka Masala
  • For the cauliflower tikka:
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup plain plant-based or regular yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on level of heat desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the tikka masala sauce:
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried red chiles (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/5 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on heat level desired
  • 2 cups tomato purée
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of garam masala, fresh cilantro, and roti or rice, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Mix the cauliflower with all the marinade ingredients until coated well. Set aside to marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Place on a baking sheet and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through and slightly crisped.
  2. While the cauliflower cooks, soak the cashews in 1/2 cup of warm water.
  3. Prepare a paste by adding the onion, garlic, and ginger to a blender with a splash of water and blending until smooth.
  4. Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and chiles (if using) and allow them to sizzle for 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant but not burnt. Add the onion, ginger, garlic paste and sauté for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Add the ground spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomato purée and bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes, until the color and aroma deepens.
  5. Blend the cashews with the soaking water until smooth. Add the cashew cream to the sauce and mix well. Add paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked cauliflower and mix well to coat with the sauce. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  6. Finish the dish with a sprinkling of garam masala and fresh cilantro. Serve with roti or rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    Cait Loves Food
  • Briangatsu
  • Katherine
  • Kanchan Koya
    Kanchan Koya

4 Reviews

Cait L. August 26, 2022
Kanchan, this is phenomenal. The best version I've made! I want to conquer saag next. Do you have a saag recipe that you recommend?
Briangatsu June 28, 2021
I used cream instead of the cashews. (I also added some chicken cooked with curry and lemon juice) This is one of the greatest things I have ever eaten. Simply amazing. Thank you for posting this for the world to enjoy; you literally brightened my life a bit today. :)
Katherine February 23, 2021
Ok, leaving this here because this recipe needs WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY more love and attention. It was super easy and so insanely good, I can’t stop thinking about it. The only thing I did differently was use heavy cream instead of cashews because that’s what I had, which honestly, great, amazing, even better. All I want to do is make this sauce for the rest of my life. Thank you. This is the best. Where is everybody?! End scene.
Kanchan K. February 23, 2021
Awww THANK YOU so much Katherine I am so glad you loved it :)))) <3