Best Vegetarian Tikka Masala Recipe (Without Coconut Milk or Yogurt!)

Vegetarian Tikka Masala Recipe

Vegetarian Tikka Masala Recipe

I didn’t discover the delicious flavors of Indian food until I was a full-on adult. Now, I can’t get enough of the fragrant flavors of curry, turmeric, and ginger. While this vegetarian tikka masala recipe is not necessarily authentic, it is 100% delicious.

The dish’s origins are debated. Some believe that it was invented in the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef in Glasgow, Scotland, who, in order to please a customer, added a mild tomato-cream sauce to his chicken tikka, which is pieces of boneless chicken marinated in yogurt and curry spices and served on a skewer, kebab-style. More likely, it derived from butter chicken, a popular dish in northern India. Some observers have called chicken tikka masala the first widely accepted example of fusion cuisine.

In place of the chicken which is the typical go-to for this dish, I include cauliflower and potatoes. Another key difference in this tikka masala recipe is that it doesn’t include coconut milk or coconut cream or yogurt.

If you’re wondering if tikka masala is spicy or sweet the answer is both or not at all. This recipe includes cayenne pepper and sugar, but the cayenne pepper is optional. Since I’m unusually sensitive to spicy foods (instant watery eyes and potential sneezing after just a taste), I leave out the cayenne and let others add it in to their liking afterward. Regarding the sugar, I include a tablespoon, but if you like it less sweet, you can lessen that amount or add in more sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce.

Don’t forget to pick up some Naan to go with the dish. My grocery store favorite is the Stonefire Garlic Naan which I heat on my stove griddle so it’s warm and toasty.

If you’re looking for another tomato based vegetarian comfort food recipe, check out my Deliciously Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe.

best ever vegetarian tikka masala recipe

Best Vegetarian Tikka Masala Recipe (Without Coconut Milk or Yogurt!)

This flavorful vegetarian Tikka Masala recipe is loaded with cauliflower, chickpeas, & potatoes, all seasoned in classic Tikka Masala (creamy tomato) flavors without coconut milk (or coconut cream) or yogurt.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 large, deep skillet for the sauce
  • 1 medium sauce pan for boiling potato & cooking the rice
  • 1 large saute skillet for sauteing the vegetables


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper optional
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 14-15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 bag cauliflower frozen
  • 1 potato large
  • 2 cups Minute rice
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • additional salt to taste


  • Naan (I usually buy the Stonefire brand)


Begin the Tikka Masala Sauce

  • Heat butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the finely diced onion, cooking until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic cloves to the pan, stirring for about 1 minute.
  • Add cumin, salt, ginger, cayenne pepper (which is optional), cinnamon, and turmeric into the onion / garlic mixture, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Pour the tomato sauce into your onion / garlic and spice mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer sauce on low heat for 10 minutes.

Prep & Boil the Potato

  • While the sauce is simmering on low, peel and quarter the potato then add to the medium sauce pan. Add enough water to the pot to cover and submerge the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil, cooking the quartered potatoes for 8 minutes.

Prep the Frozen Cauliflower

  • Microwave the frozen cauliflower according to the directions on the bag. (I find 2 microwave rounds of 5 minutes usually does the trick).

Return to the Tikka Masala Sauce

  • Mix in the heavy whipping cream, paprika, and sugar into your sauce. Turn the heat to medium (or until your sauce is at a higher simmer) and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

Remove Boiled Potatoes & Cook Rice

  • Once the potatoes are done boiling, drain the water, and transfer the potatoes to your large saute skillet. Rinse the pot and use it to cook the Minute rice according to the directions on the package.

Saute & Season the Vegetables

  • Add olive oil to the saute skillet, and combine the cauliflower and chickpeas with the potatoes in the skillet. Cook over medium heat. Sprinkle veggies with curry powder (and any additional salt you would like to add), sauteing for around 3 minutes.
  • Transfer the veggies and any pan juices to the Tikka Masala sauce. Stir to fully combine.


  • On each plate, start with a foundation of rice, then layer the veggie tikka masala on top. Serve with Naan on the side to complete the meal.
    Best Vegetarian Tikka Masala Recipe without Coconut
Tried this recipe? Let me know how it was in the comments!

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