Easy Chickpea Tikka Masala

By Jessica Hylton -

Chickpea Tikka Masala is an incredibly easy and absolutely divine vegan version of the classic Indian dish! It tastes deliciously indulgent, yet it’s still healthy. Plus, vegan tikka masala makes large portions that are perfect for meal prep! 

Spicy vegan tikka masala with rice and naan.

What is Tikka Masala?

Tikka Masala, or Chicken Tikka Masala, is an Indian curry-based dish. It is traditionally made with chicken (as you probably guessed) and a creamy curry sauce, containing spices like curry powder, cumin, etc.

Since we’re making a vegan version, though, here’s the slightly-altered rundown. The key to making an incredible vegan tikka masala is to focus on the core flavors in the original version. So, in this recipe, chickpeas replace chicken. Of course, no one is trying to make chickpeas taste like chicken, but they yield an absolutely phenomenal-tasting dish, nonetheless. Chickpeas ensure that you still get a good dose of protein, and they truly soak up the flavor in the sauce.

When you make vegan tikka masala for dinner you get rave reviews and questions like “How does this taste exactly like our favorite takeout?!” (Yep, real quote.)

Ingredients for chickpea tikka masala.

Notes on Ingredients

Time to round up some ingredients! This is a list of everything you’ll need to prepare this easy chickpea tikka masala:

  • Coconut Oil: Or any cooking oil, whatever you prefer.
  • Onion: I like to use a diced red onion, but a white/yellow onion is fine too.
  • Spices: Today we’ll use fresh ginger, curry powder, cumin, sea salt, and ground black pepper.
  • Garam Masala: A blend of Indian spices that will give this dish an authentic taste.
  • Garlic: Minced, for extra flavor.
  • Tomato Paste: Offers rich tomato flavor, and thickens the sauce.
  • Tomato Sauce: You can use jarred, canned, or fresh tomato sauce.
  • Chickpeas: Make sure to drain the cans before you use the chickpeas.
  • Coconut Milk: I used coconut milk because it’s affordable, easy to find, and it doesn’t give the dish a coconut-y flavor. However, you could substitute a pourable cashew cream, which would also be a great heavy cream substitute.
  • Coconut Sugar: Optional – it balances out the acidity. (Any sugar will work.)
  • Lime Juice: For a tangy finishing touch.

How to Make Vegan Tikka Masala

This Chickpea Tikka Masala is SO flavorful. I didn’t want any overwhelming seasonings, but instead wanted everything to enhance and complement the tomato flavor that’s so prevalent in traditional tikka masala. I found that the fresh ginger, the tomato paste, and a bit more curry than I usually use, really did the trick.

Here’s the full explanation on how this dish comes together:

Sauté the Garlic and Onion: In a deep pot over medium high heat, add the coconut oil. Add in the onion, garlic, and ginger. Reduce to medium heat. Grind some sea salt and ground black pepper over the mixture and stir together. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the ginger and garlic are fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Sautéing onions and garlic in a pan.

Mix in More Spices: Add in the garam masala, curry powder, cumin and tomato paste. Stir to combine.

Onions and garlic with garam masala and other spices.

Add in the Tomato Sauce: Also add in the chickpeas and the (optional) coconut sugar. Stir to combine. Bring the curry to a boil, and then reduce to medium-low so that the mixture continues to simmer for 8 to 10 more minutes. Cover slightly with lid but not completely to allow the steam and excess water to escape.

Chickpeas in a pan of tomato sauce.

Pour in the Coconut Milk: And stir to combine. Allow to simmer for about 3 more minutes. Taste the curry and season with salt and pepper if you desire. Remove the curry from the heat and squeeze the lime over the top of the curry, stirring to combine. Don’t skip this step!! Finally, allow it to cool slightly, and then serve. Enjoy!

Tips for Success

This recipe yields a dish that will perfume your entire kitchen and home with scents reminiscent of your favorite Indian takeout restaurant. And, best of all, it makes such large portions that you’ll have plenty of leftovers.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you get started on it:

  • Make Sure to Keep the Temperature Low: You want your tikka masala to simmer, not boil! Keep the heat on medium-low so that the milk doesn’t curdle and disrupt your creamy sauce.
  • Add Vegetables: To make this meal even more filling, add in veggies like cauliflower or peppers and let them simmer with the chickpeas.
  • Make It Ahead: Letting the flavors really mingle overnight in the fridge results in a delicious vegan tikka masala! Feel free to make this dish a day ahead of time so that you can reheat it and serve it for dinner the next day.
Plate of chickpea curry with rice and naan.

Serving Suggestions

Want to switch up how you enjoy this meal? Sometimes I do, so I came up with a couple serving options for you all.

Some nights I have it with naan (or whole wheat naan bread), and other nights I have it with basmati rice… sometimes I even try it in a roti wrap! I’ve also served it with homemade pita chips before, or a simple side of roasted vegetables. Alone, or as-is, is good too.

No matter which way you serve it, I know you’ll love it. Eat up and enjoy, friends!

How to Store Leftovers

You can store this chickpea tikka masala in an air-tight tupperware container in the fridge for up a week. It makes for great lunches/quick dinners if you want to save it in serving-size portions!

Can I Freeze Extras?

Yes! This vegan tikka masala is an excellent candidate for freezing, and can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.

Pot of chickpea tikka masala.

Enjoy friends! If you make this Chickpea Tikka Masala, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much! P.S. – do you know that we have an entire blog dedicated to low carb recipes named Low Carb Vegan Recipes?! Be sure to check it out!

Spicy vegan tikka masala with rice and naan.

Easy Chickpea Tikka Masala

Chickpea Tikka Masala is an incredibly easy and absolutely divine vegan version of the classic Indian dish! It tastes deliciously indulgent, yet it's still healthy. Plus, vegan tikka masala makes large portions that are perfect for meal prep! 
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or any oil
  • ½ large red onion diced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 ounces tomato sauce jarred or canned or fresh
  • 2 cans chickpeas drained (2 cans) (32oz/454g)
  • 1 cup coconut milk the thick creamy white part separate from the coconut water
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar optional – to balance out the acidity (or any sugar)
  • juice of 1 lime about 1 tablespoon
Instructions

Instructions

  • In a deep pot over medium high heat, add the coconut oil.
  • Add in the onion, garlic, and ginger. Reduce to medium heat. Grind some sea salt and ground black pepper over the mixture and stir together. Saute until the onions are translucent and the ginger and garlic are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the garam masala, curry powder, cumin and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  • Add in the tomato sauce, the chickpeas and the (optional) coconut sugar. Stir to combine. Bring the curry to a boil, and then reduce to medium-low so that the mixture continues to simmer for 8 to 10 more minutes. Cover slightly with lid but not completely to allow the steam and excess water to escape.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for about 3 more minutes. Taste the curry and season with salt and pepper if you desire. Remove the curry from the heat and squeeze the lime over the top of the curry, stirring to combine. Don’t skip this step!!
  • Allow to cool slightly and then serve. Enjoy!

Video

NOTES
This recipe is vegan and gluten free.
*Many readers have asked and yes you can definitely used reduced fat coconut milk! You can even used boxed coconut milk if those calories suit you better.
  • Make Sure to Keep the Temperature Low: You want your tikka masala to simmer, not boil! Keep the heat on medium-low so that the milk doesn’t curdle and disrupt your creamy sauce.
  • Add Vegetables: To make this meal even more filling, add in veggies like cauliflower or peppers and let them simmer with the chickpeas.
  • Make It Ahead: Letting the flavors really mingle overnight in the fridge results in a delicious vegan tikka masala! Feel free to make this dish a day ahead of time so that you can reheat it and serve it for dinner the next day.

Serving Suggestions

Want to switch up how you enjoy this meal? Sometimes I do, so I came up with a couple serving options for you all.
Some nights I have it with naan (or whole wheat naan bread), and other nights I have it with basmati rice… sometimes I even try it in a roti wrap! I’ve also served it with crispy tortilla chips before, or a simple side of roasted vegetables. Alone, or as-is, is good too.
No matter which way you serve it, I know you’ll love it. Eat up and enjoy, friends!

How to Store Leftovers

You can store this chickpea tikka masala in an air-tight tupperware container in the fridge for up a week. It makes for great lunches/quick dinners if you want to save it in serving-size portions!

Can I Freeze Extras?

Yes! This vegan tikka masala is an excellent candidate for freezing, and can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.
 
A FEW NOTES:
1. This curry lasts for at least a week in the fridge as leftovers.
2. You can serve with naan, basmati rice, or even crispy pita chips.

Nutrition

Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 614mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 491IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 4mg
by Jessica

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Recipe Rating




53 comments

  1. Rebecca says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was so easy to throw together using ingredients I already had at home. It tasted fantastic, and the whole family enjoyed it. I served it with rice, and some roasted vegetables on the side.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Thats amazing we’re so happy to hear this!

  2. Jenny says:

    5 stars
    Yum! This dish has become my most favorite dish and have been making it so often that my home literally smells like an Indian restaurant. But we love it. We can’t seem to get enough of it. I always serve the vegetables – lightly sauteed or boiled with salt on the side with either rice or some Indian bread. I don’t want to take away from the flavor of the chickpeas masala so I keep it straightforward with nothing else. I learnt today that we can make something similar with Indian Cottage cheese or Paneer. But of course being vegan it is not an option for me.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      We’re delighted to read this Jenny! Thank you so much for this wonderful review.

  3. Natalie Gerber says:

    I have all the ingredients for this recipe. Can’t wait to try it out!

  4. Marisa says:

    5 stars
    This turned out amazing! Are you left or oil and more water for the sauté and I substituted sugar or maple syrup instead. Just to make it more of a healthier meal and it turned out amazing! I could not be happier. Especially after trying to make other curries and being disappointed with the outcome. This had the perfect balance of coconut milk for it to actually truly be creamy. So good and I will be making this on a regular basis moving forward.

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