Enjoy authentic Indian flavors in this homemade healthy chickpea tikka masala. A perfect vegetarian dish for a weeknight meal or to serve at a party.
Have you ever tried tikka masala dishes in any Indian restaurant and wondered how they make it? Then you have come to the right place.
Here I am sharing with you our all-time favorite chickpea tikka masala recipe.
Usually, you will find paneer or chicken tikka masala in Indian restaurants. However, going out of the box, I make this recipe using chickpeas.
Because chickpeas are among some of the perfect options for making a protein-rich meatless dish, and you still get all the authentic flavors in this recipe. I am sure you won’t miss chicken or paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in this dish.
Let’s get started.
- Chickpeas – you will need cooked chickpeas to prepare this dish. You can either cook them at home or use canned chickpeas.
- Garlic and ginger – add raw ginger pieces and garlic cloves to the sauce. Use fresh garlic and ginger, it makes a lot of difference in the taste.
- Onion and tomato – cut onion and tomato into thick pieces to prepare the gravy base.
- Cashews – helps to thicken the sauce and make the dish creamy.
- Spices – tikka masala sauce is rich in spices, so you will need garam masala (a classic blend of Indian spices), ground coriander, and ground cumin to add flavors. Additionally, use some chili powder to add some heat and nice color to the final dish.
- Oil – Use your choice of cooking oil. I prefer using avocado or olive oil suitable for sauteing and grilling.
Find the full list of ingredients and quantity in the recipe card below.
- Raw almonds – Use whole almonds instead of cashews to thicken the sauce. Add some water and then boil/blanch them in the microwave for 3 mins. This helps to loosen the skin. Allow them to cool down, remove the skin and then use these peeled almonds instead of cashews in the recipe.
- Replace cashews – if you are allergic to nuts, use heavy whipping cream or whole milk to prepare the sauce base. Also, some readers have successfully made it with coconut milk.
- Broth – use chicken or vegetable broth to prepare the sauce instead of water.
- Use tofu/paneer – add grilled tofu/paneer tikka instead of roasted chickpeas.
- Chicken – follow this chicken tikka masala recipe to make this dish using chicken.
How To Make Restaurant-Style Chickpea Tikka Masala
This recipe involves two steps:
1. Making Roasted Chickpea Tikka
a. In a medium mixing bowl, add cooked chickpeas. Mix them with oil, finely minced fresh garlic and ginger, garam masala, chili powder, and lemon juice. Also, add salt to taste.
b. Bake these spiced chickpeas in a preheated oven to develop the roasted taste.
2. Preparing authentic tikka masala sauce
a. To prepare the sauce, cook onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, and raw cashews in oil. In the end, add ground cumin and ground coriander.
b. Blend this masala base with little water in a blender to a smooth puree.
c. Fry some chili powder in oil in the frying pan and add the prepared onion-tomato puree. If you do not want to use chili powder, skip this step and add puree directly to the pan.
d. Finally, add some garam masala and salt according to taste. Once the sauce is ready, add toasted chickpeas. Mix well and serve warm. Find detailed step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below.
- Serve it with simple wheat flatbread (Indian chapati), homemade naan bread, and/or plain white rice with sliced cucumbers and onion on the side for a wholesome meal.
- Add it to the party menu along with whole wheat naan, vegetarian biryani or chicken biryani, rice pulao, homemade mango lassi, etc.
- Do not use overcooked chickpeas in this recipe. Preferably cook chickpeas at home. Just soak them for a few hours and cook until tender yet firm. You can also use canned chickpeas–just make sure they are not too soft to break easily. I use my Instant Pot to cook raw chickpeas. It takes 5-6 minutes to cook if chickpeas are soaked and about 40 minutes otherwise (without soaking).
- Use fresh tomatoes to make the sauce. It gives a nice fresh taste to the dish.
- This dish is dairy-free or vegan. However, you can cheat and add a little heavy whipping cream at the end of cooking if you want to make the dish richer in taste.
Let the leftover tikka masala cool down completely, then store it in the air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Reheat the leftovers on the stovetop or in the microwave until steamy hot. Serve warm.
Yes, freeze the leftovers in freezer-friendly containers or bags for up to one month. However, I always prefer using it while it is fresh.
Deep red-colored tomatoes and chili powder give a rich orange color to this dish. You can also add a bit of concentrated tomato paste to enhance the color.
Yes, you can add some coconut milk to give a creamy texture to the sauce.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments if you REALLY like this recipe. Thank You!
Vegetarian Chickpea Tikka Masala
For Chickpea Tikka
- 2 cup chickpeas cooked
- 2-3 garlic cloves finely minced
- ½″ ginger finely minced
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon oil
- salt to taste
For Tikka Masala Sauce
- 1 small onion cut in 8 pieces
- 4 medium tomatoes cut in quarters
- 2-3 garlic whole cloves
- ½″ ginger peeled and cut into 2-3 pieces
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 2 teaspoon oil divided
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 cup water
- salt to taste
Roasted Chickpea Tikka
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a medium mixing bowl add and mix all the ingredients listed under Chickpea Tikka above. Spread it evenly on a nonstick baking tray.
- Bake the chickpeas in preheated oven for 10 min. Using a spatula stir them and again continue baking for 10 more min.
Tikka Masala Sauce
- Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Add whole garlic cloves, ginger, and onion. Cook the onion until translucent for 2-3 min.
- Then add tomatoes and raw cashews. Cook them until tomato softens and gives sauce like consistency for about 4-5 min.
- Now add cumin powder and coriander powder. Mix well and transfer this mixture to the blender jar, add 1 cup water and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Heat remaining oil in the frying pan on low heat. Add chili powder and cook it slightly until fragrant.
- Add blended tomato mixture and bring it to boil.
- Now add garam masala and salt to taste. Mix well and simmer (cover with lid) on low heat for 5 min.
- Finally, add roasted chickpeas, garnish with cilantro and serve warm.
- Use vegetable or chicken broth (or stock) instead of water to prepare the sauce.
- You can add a little more water if you do not want the sauce to be too thick for your liking.
- Use freshly ground roasted cumin and coriander seeds powder whenever possible. It really adds an amazing aroma and flavor to the dish. I usually roast around 1 teaspoon cumin and 2 teaspoon coriander seeds (for this recipe) together in a frying pan. And using a stone molcajete, I crush the roasted seeds into powder.
- For more useful tips, see the Helpful Tips section above.
This recipe exceeded my expectations! Absolutely delicious, and pretty simple. I could eat this every day.
I found that this was a good starting base recipe but I made a few modifications since I like it to be a bit more spice-y and didn’t have cashews in my pantry. This is definitely being added to my rolodex of meals. 🙂
– Substituted the cashews (and the creaminess they would provide) for 1/2 cup of greek yogurt and 1/2 cup of milk. It gave it a slightly more tangy flavor but I liked that and it also provided some creaminess/thickness.
– Doubled all the spices in the sauce. I’m used to a heavier use of spices in my food and when I initially made this with the provided measurements, I found that it was quite light in its’ flavors. This may not work for everyone, but don’t be afraid to double up! 🙂
– Instead of plain water and salt, I mixed in the cup of water with tomato & chicken bouillon. It still provided the salt but with a bit more flavor to the sauce overall.
– I added 1 teaspoon of turmeric, mainly to get a brighter color.
I am super excited to try this recipe! One question though: I have some tikka masala spice in my cabinet. Could I use that instead of the garam masala in this recipe? My knowledge of these spices is currently almost zero 😅
Watch What U Eat says
Hi Katie, Tikka masala spice should also work in this recipe.
Family loves it
Dave G says
I added about 1/8 tsp. of chilli powder to both the chickpeas and the sauce which brought some nice heat to the dish. Also had to sub in a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes for the tomato portion since I didn’t have any fresh. My kids who can be fairly picky eaters loved it. Three of us had no problems polishing it off, need to possibly double next time to have leftovers.
Debra Cochran says
This was absolutely delicious! I will put this in my favorite recipe folder. Great comfort food. Thank you for sharing!
Made this tonight for dinner and it was really good! Served it with some naan bread. I did only 4 stars because it didn’t make much for a family of 4. I was hoping for some leftovers.
Megan Gleeson says
Love the sound of this recipe! Going to make it tonight. However, I have a nut allergy and don’t like coconut milk, is there anything I can use as an alternative? Thanks!
Watch What U Eat says
Hi Megan, you can use dairy cream instead.