This Vegetarian Tikka Masala is hearty, flavorful, and approved by meat eaters! Made with cauliflower, chickpeas, and peas, this Tikka Masala recipe can be made on the stove top or in the Instant Pot for fast dinner that is ready in less than 30 minutes.
Looking for an Indian recipe featuring meat? You must try Instant Pot Butter Chicken. Looking for more Vegan Instant Pot Recipes? Check out Instant Pot Minestrone Soup, Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili, or Instant Pot Lentil Soup.
I adore my recipe for Butter Chicken, but as I try to incorporate more plant-based recipes into my diet, I decided to adapt the recipe to make it vegan friendly.
But let's be honest, the stars of butter chicken are butter, chicken, and cream! A bit hard to change that up!
However, Chicken Tikka Masala is much easier to make vegan and the flavors are very similar to the richly spiced sauce in Butter Chicken. In fact, this recipe may edge out Butter Chicken as my favorite Indian dish. It is certainly one of my favorite vegetarian meals ever!
This recipe for Tikka Masala features cauliflower and chickpeas instead of chicken. The cauliflower adds heartiness and texture and the chickpeas are a great source of protein. Made with a rich sauce that is completely dairy-free, this Tikka Masala is out of this world good--even my meat-loving husband agrees!
How to Make Vegetarian Tikka Masala
I have made this recipe so many times this past month. I said it was for testing purposes, but I am going, to be honest--I just was craving it and had to have it over and over again.
With that said, I did prepare this recipe both on the Instant Pot and the stove top with both delicious results. I have to be honest to say that the Instant Pot Tikka Masala is my favorite method for preparation, because it is much more hands off. But don't worry, if you don't have an Instant Pot, I promise this recipe is still really simple to prepare on the stove.
Regardless of which method you choose the first step to making Tikka Masala is sauteing the aromatics. Heating the onions, ginger, garlic, and spices in the oil helps the ingredients to deepen in flavor, making this Vegetarian Tikka Masala so flavorful! This is not a step you want to skip! Or one you want to let simmer on the stove without supervision--those spices can burn fast and burnt spices or garlic will ruin a dish!
Once the aromatics are toasted, it is time to finish this delicious sauce with the addition of tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and vegetable stock. Cauliflower and chickpeas are simmered in the sauce until the cauliflower is tender. In the Instant Pot, this is only 2 minutes of cook time and on the stove, this is about 20 minutes of a low simmer. Be sure to cut your cauliflower in 2-inch florets.
Once the cauliflower is simmered, it is time to add in the peas and coconut milk. Now, the peas are completely optional and not traditional--but then again, cauliflower in Tikka Masala is not traditional either! I find that that peas add just the right amount of sweetness to this dish, but you can certainly omit.
Once the sauce has thickened slightly, it is time to serve! I prefer to serve Tikka Masala with brown rice and a sprinkle of cilantro. You can opt to serve with Naan bread or cauliflower rice.
However you serve this Vegan Tikka Masala, I think you will agree, this is one delicious plant-based meal!
More Plant-Based Recipes
- Vegan Butternut Squash Rice Bowl
- Lentil Meatballs
- Vegan Sloppy Joes
- Sweet Potato Burritos
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
Instant Pot Tikka Masala
- ½ tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 28- ounce can diced tomatoes not drained
- 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 2 inch florets--about 4 cups
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas 1 (15 ounce) can drained and rinsed.
- ½ cup canned coconut milk
- 1 cups frozen peas optional
Instant Pot Directions
- Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting and let heat until it reads hot. Add the oil and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the garlic, and ginger and saute for one minute longer. Add the spices and tomato paste and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until spices are fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Turn the Instant Pot OFF.
- Add in vegetable stock, and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot.
- Add in the diced tomatoes and chickpeas. Place cauliflower and on top of the mixture.
- Close the lid and set to cook on high pressure for 2 minutes. (Hit Manual or Pressure Cook and adjust time to 2 minutes using +/- buttons.)
- Once cook time has elapsed, do a quick pressure release.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to saute and add in frozen peas and coconut milk. Simmer for 3- 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken. Turn the Instant Pot Off. Serve warm over rice with minced cilantro if desired.
Stove Top Directions
- In a pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Cook for just 1-2 minutes until the spices begin to give off their fragrance. Add in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add the stock to the pan and scrape up any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Stir in the diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and cauliflower. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add in an additional ½ stock as the tikka masala simmers.
- Stir in the peas, and coconut milk and cook until heated through and beginning to thicken, about 5 minutes. Serve with rice and a sprinkle of cilantro if desired.
- If preparing this recipe on the stove, you may need a full 1 cup of vegetable stock. The Instant Pot seals in all the moisture, while some of that will evaporate when simmering on the stove.
- Feel free to increase or decrease the cayenne pepper for more or less spicy.
- Store leftover Tikka Masala in the fridge for 4-5 days in a sealed container.
- I have had success using regular and lite canned coconut milk.
- The peas are optional, but I find they add a bit of sweetness to this dish.