Can You Make a Flavorful Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala with Coconut Cream?

For a delightful culinary exploration, we invite you to embark on a journey with us through the vibrant and rich flavors of Indian cuisine. Let’s discover how to prepare a scrumptious and hearty vegan dish, using cauliflower as the main ingredient, in a luscious tikka masala sauce. Made with the creaminess of coconut cream and a medley of invigorating spices, this recipe promises to be a treat to your taste buds.

The Magic of Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Delving into the heart of this dish, we find that the cauliflower tikka masala is a twist on the traditional Indian dish, tikka masala, which is usually prepared with chicken. In this vegan version, we replace the chicken with cauliflower, an incredibly versatile vegetable that takes on the bold flavors of the masala sauce.

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The mixture of spices used in this recipe, usually referred to as garam masala, includes coriander, cumin, cardamom, and turmeric, among others. The fusion of these aromatic spices gives the dish its distinctive and comforting flavor.

What makes this vegan version even more appealing is the replacement of the customary dairy cream with coconut cream. This ingredient adds a hint of sweetness and creaminess to the tangy tomato gravy, creating a balanced and rich texture.

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Preparing the Cauliflower and Gathering Your Ingredients

Before you begin, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Cut the cauliflower into small florets and toss them in a mixture of oil, turmeric, and salt. Arrange the florets on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes until they are golden and crispy.

While the cauliflower is roasting, gather the rest of your ingredients. You will need garlic, ginger, yellow onion, green chili, tomato puree, coconut cream, vegetable broth, and a selection of aromatic spices. Remember to finely chop the garlic, ginger, and onion to ensure they blend well in the sauce.

In terms of spices, gather turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garam masala. The coconut cream can be found in most grocery stores, but make sure to choose a high-quality brand for the best flavor.

Cooking the Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala

To start cooking the vegan cauliflower tikka masala, heat oil in a large pot. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic, and sauté until they are soft and fragrant. Stir in the spices and cook for a few more minutes.

Next, add the tomato puree and vegetable broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Once the cauliflower is roasted, add it to the pot and stir carefully, making sure the florets are well-coated in the sauce. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

Finally, stir in the coconut cream, turn off the heat, and allow the dish to sit for a few minutes. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.

Accompaniments to Your Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala

While the vegan cauliflower tikka masala can be savored on its own, it is traditionally served with rice. A fluffy bed of basmati or jasmine rice pairs wonderfully with the rich and hearty curry, absorbing the flavorful sauce.

For a more complete meal, consider serving a side of naan bread, a traditional Indian bread that is perfect for scooping up the curry.

Another popular accompaniment is a simple cucumber and yogurt salad, also known as raita. Although the traditional raita uses dairy yogurt, you can easily make a vegan version using coconut or almond milk yogurt.

Enjoying Your Flavorful Vegan Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Once you’ve prepared your vegan cauliflower tikka masala, take a moment to savor the vibrant colors of the dish. The golden cauliflower florets, the rich red of the tomato sauce, and the garnish of fresh cilantro leaves create a visual feast, mirroring the culinary delight that awaits you.

Whether you’re a long-time vegan, considering a plant-based diet, or simply looking for a new recipe to try, this vegan cauliflower tikka masala is sure to impress. Its depth of flavor and heartiness make it a satisfying meal for any day of the week.

Remember, cooking is an art, and recipes are just a guide. Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking, add more veggies, or even replace the cauliflower with tofu or chickpeas. The possibilities are endless, showing that, indeed, you can make a flavorful vegan cauliflower tikka masala with coconut cream.

Tweaking the Recipe for Your Instant Pot

If you have an Instant Pot, you can also prepare the vegan cauliflower tikka masala in it, thus reducing your cooking time. Keep the recipe mostly the same, except for a few adjustments.

Start by setting the Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Add oil, the finely chopped garlic, ginger, and onions and sauté until they soften. Stir in the spices – turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garam masala. After a few minutes, introduce the tomato puree and vegetable broth. Stir well to ensure the spices are well incorporated.

Then, add the crispy, oven-roasted cauliflower florets to the pot, stirring to coat them in the masala sauce. Close the lid, set the pressure to high, and cook for about 10 minutes. After the time is up, allow a natural pressure release for about 10 minutes before venting the remaining pressure.

The last step is to stir in the coconut cream. Because the Instant Pot retains heat so well, you can simply switch it off and add the coconut cream, stirring gently. The residual heat will melt the cream into the tikka masala, adding that final touch of creamy richness.

Exploring Other Vegan Alternatives

This vegan cauliflower tikka masala recipe is incredibly versatile. For instance, if you want to add some protein to the dish, consider substituting some of the cauliflower with tofu or chickpeas. Both these ingredients are excellent at absorbing the flavors of the garam masala and tomato sauce.

If you prefer a less sweet alternative to coconut cream, try cashew cream. It’s easy to make at home by blending soaked cashews with water until smooth. Cashew cream adds a rich, nutty flavor to the tikka masala, providing a different but equally delightful taste experience.

You can also experiment with other vegetables. Think about adding bell peppers, peas, or potatoes. They not only increase the nutritional value of the dish but also make it colorful and appealing.


The power of plant-based cooking is truly endless. This vegan cauliflower tikka masala recipe showcases how simple ingredients like cauliflower florets, garam masala, and coconut cream can transform into a delicious, hearty meal. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan, a curious food enthusiast, or someone just wanting to add more vegetables to your diet, this dish is a fantastic addition to your recipe repertoire.

As the saying goes, the magic is always in the details. From the roasting of the cauliflower to the simmering of the masala sauce, every step of this recipe is an adventure in flavor. The end result is a comforting, vibrant dish that might just become a staple in your kitchen.

So go ahead, gather your ingredients, and get ready to create a savory, creamy, and absolutely unforgettable vegan cauliflower tikka masala with coconut cream. And remember, don’t be afraid to experiment and make this recipe your own. After all, every culinary journey should be a personal one.