Updated: Aug 30, 2021
I don't do New Year's resolutions. Believe me- I've tried, but things never seem to stick and then I beat myself up for not achieving unrealistic goals. Instead of trying to revolutionize my entire lifestyle in a single day, I try to *very gently* press the reset button on January 1st, keeping changes manageable and then assessing how I feel after a few weeks. Almost every year those tweaks stay the same: less vino, more movement, less screen time, more reading, less meat and more plants! After eating and drinking like Henry VIII over the holidays, this veggified version of Chicken Tikka Masala is the perfect way to start out the New Year! I don't know about you guys but come January, I crave all the plants! It must be my body telling me to load up on goodness after all the christmas naughtiness. I think people mistakenly assume that vegetarian food won’t fill them up- I can assure you that this is just as satisfying as traditional take out tikka (a popular curry featuring chicken simmered in a creamy tomato based sauce). I add protein rich chickpeas to keep the dish hearty. Served over some rice or quinoa with a dollop of yogurt and a side of pillowy naan, this meal won’t have you creeping to the kitchen for that bowl of cereal before bed. If you are trying to stay dairy free, skip the yogurt and try subbing 1/2 can full fat, unsweet coconut milk in place of the half and half- the sauce will have a different flavor profile but will still be delicious. I like to pre-roast the cauliflower and chickpeas before adding them to the tikka simmer sauce because I’m a sucker for the crispy bits and concentrated flavors that develop in the oven. I have a hard time not polishing off the whole sheet pan before dinner time! This tikka temptation is proof that plant based eating doesn't have to be bland and boring. Whether you're seeking to make some changes to your diet or just looking for a delicious and easy curry to prepare, I hope that you try this recipe and enjoy! Happy new year!
prep time: ~10 min. cook time: ~35 min. serves: 4
1 large head cauliflower, stalk removed and separated into florets
1-14 oz can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
avocado or vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp peeled minced ginger
2 tbsp tomato paste
1-14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup half and half *or to make dairy free half a 14 oz can full fat coconut milk, stirred
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
chopped cilantro or parsley leaves, lemon wedges, plain full fat yogurt, cooked jasmine rice, chopped toasted cashews or almonds, and/or naan bread (all optional)
Preheat the oven to 425° and line a large sheet pan with foil. Combine all the spices listed to create the spice blend (mix well). Place the cauliflower florets, chickpeas, 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp of the spice mixture on the sheet pan and toss to coat evenly, spreading everything out in a single layer and seasoning the top with a little extra salt. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the ingredients are lightly charred, crisp and fork tender- set aside.
Meanwhile, make the simmer sauce: heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes, until it's beginning to soften. Add the garlic, ginger and the remainder of the spice blend and stir to cook 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste- cook 2 minutes to concentrate the flavor. Next, pour in the diced tomatoes plus 1 cup of water, season with a big pinch of salt, stir and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes, then swirl in the half and half. Simmer 5 minutes more, checking for seasoning and adding more salt and pepper to taste.
*If making the sauce with coconut milk, follow instructions exactly except add the coconut milk in at the same time as diced tomatoes and skip the half and half. Simmer 15 min or until slightly thickened, adding more salt and pepper needed.
Gently fold the cauliflower and chickpeas into the simmering sauce to coat- add more water if it seems too thick. Cook 2 minutes more, just to heat everything through and meld the flavors. Serve hot over rice sprinkled with cilantro or parsley and topped with a dollop of yogurt (or however you prefer). Naan bread and lemon wedges on the side optional but encouraged!