Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (2024)

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Chickpea Tikka Masala – Dinner is on with this flavorful & saucy Indian-inspired vegan tikka masala recipe! It’s lusciously creamy and easy to make right at home in one pan with simple ingredients!

Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (1)

This curry dish is another great addition to the vegan Indian recipes here on TSV! I don’t have nearly enough of them yet, but here’s one more and I know you’re going to enjoy it!

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Why We Love This Recipe!

  • It’s all about the sauce and spices here, you’ll love how incredibly saucy and flavorful it is!
  • This chickpea tikka masala comes together in under an hour, which most of the time it’s just simmering away on the stove while you relax.
  • It’s a perfect comfort food served with rice, cilantro lime rice, quinoa or with a side of vegan naan bread.
  • You can easily customize it by adding cauliflower florets, diced sweet potatoes and/or carrots for an even heartier, veggie packed meal.

Recipe adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosurehere.

Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (2)

Ingredient Notes

In this recipe, we’ll make a delicious tomato curry sauce with chickpeas for a warm and comforting Indian Chickpea Curry.

Here’s everything you will need, including ideas on substituting ingredients:

  • Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans).Use 2 cans or 3 cups fresh cooked.
  • Tomato. Use canned diced tomatoes for ease, or 4 – 5 ripe tomatoes, diced. If you don’t care for chunks of tomato, use 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes.
  • Onion. The original recipe calls for 2 onions, but I found 1 large onion a little more favorable. Use 2 if you prefer.
  • Garlic. Feel free to adjust the garlic to your taste.
  • Ginger.Fresh minced or grated ginger adds a nice zing.
  • Cumin Seeds. You can pick up a package of whole cumin seeds for a reasonable price in the Mexican section of your local grocery store, or you can find them bottled in the general spice section.
  • Garam Masala. Literally means warm spices, and is a blend of Indian spices such as coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and cloves. It’s a wonderful blend that gives the dish so much flavor.
  • Turmeric. This yellow aromatic spice adds another layer of flavor.
  • Cayenne. Adjust the amount to your liking. I think 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne is a safe amount, but if you love heat use up to 1 teaspoon.
  • Coconut Milk. Full or low-fat.
  • Tomato Paste.
  • Oil.I’ve used light flavored olive oil, but coconut oil or your favorite oil will work. To make this oil-free, simply use 1/4 cup of water or vegetable broth when sauteeing.
  • Salt. My favorite salt of all time is this Himalayan pink salt which contains essential minerals and trace elements that other salts don’t offer.
Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (3)

How To Make Chickpea Tikka Masala

Prepping the onions, ginger, and garlic is the hardest part, the rest is easy, requiring stirring occasionally and then a nice simmer.

Here’s a simplified rundown of the steps involved (note – the full printable recipe instructions are at the bottom of the post):

  • Saute the onions and cumin seeds in oil or water/broth, until onions are browned around the edges.
  • Toss in the ginger and garlic, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the spices and cook until nice and fragrant.
  • Pour in the tomatoes and cook until they breakdown a bit, about 4 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste, chickpeas and coconut milk, simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes.

And now you’re ready to serve with a grain of choice!

Tips For The Best Tikka Masala Sauce

  • Don’t rush it. For the most intense and delicious sauce you’ll want to really let the onions cook down bringing out the sweetness.
  • Simmer, don’t boil. Make sure to simmer the masala over low heat to avoid the coconut milk from curdling.
  • Save the leftovers. Leftover chickpea tikka masala tastes phenomenal the next day because the spices have more to develop overnight.
Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (4)

How To Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a covered container.
  • Freezer: Chickpea Tikka Masala freezes well for up to 2 – 3 months! My favorite way to freeze soup is in these freezer safe meal prep containers. You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock bags.
  • Reheat: Simply re-warm on the stovetop or the microwave. It makes a great meal prep for the week with homemade Vegan Naan on the side for swiping up the juices.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a grain such as basmati rice, cilantro lime rice, brown rice or quinoa.
  • Pair with a side of vegan naan.
  • Add fresh toppings like sliced tomatoes and fresh chopped cilantro.
Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (5)

More Easy Recipes!

  • 30-Minute Chana Masala
  • West African Peanut Stew
  • Moroccan Pumpkin + Chickpea Stew
  • Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Let me know if you make this chickpea tikka masala recipe!Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.



Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (6)
Print Recipe

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4.9 from 51 reviews

Dinner is on with this flavorful Indian inspired Chickpea Tikka Masala recipe! It’s lusciously creamy and easy to make right at home in one pan with simple ingredients!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop, Simmer
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Indian


Units Scale

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or 1/4 cup water/broth
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 34 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander, optional
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/21 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon mineral salt
  • 2 cans (14oz) diced tomatoes, with juices (or 4 tomatoes chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cans (14oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15oz.) coconut milk (full or low fat – cream is ok too)

To Serve

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • grain of choice (rice, quinoa, couscous)
  • homemade vegan naan


In a large pot, heat oil or water over medium heat, add onions and cumin seeds, cook for 5 – 7 minute, until onions are browned around the edges. Add the ginger and garlic, cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the garam masala, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne and cook for 1 – 2 two minutes, or until nice and fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes, until they breakdown a bit. Add tomato paste, chickpeas and coconut milk, stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with rice, cilantro lime rice, quinoa, couscous, or pair with vegan naan.

Serves 6


Optional add-ins: For a veggie filled meal add in one or more of the following with the chickpeas.

  • 1 sweet potato, diced into 1/4 – 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots

How To Store

  • Refrigerator: Store in covered containers for 5 – 6 days..
  • Freezer: Store in the freezer for up to 2 – 3 months. I like storing in these freezer safe meal prep containers. You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock bags.
  • Reheat: Re-warm on the stovetop or the microwave.

Recipe adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen.

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Chickpea Tikka Masala Recipe - Vegan, Dairy Free & Oil-Free Option (2024)


What is the difference between tikka masala and chana masala? ›

Chana masala is typically simmered on the stove until the chickpeas are tender. In contrast, tikka masala involves marinating and grilling the meat before adding it to the sauce. In terms of flavor, chana masala has a mild, earthy flavor. It is not typically as spicy as tikka masala, which can be hot and spicy.

Does chicken tikka masala contain coconut milk? ›

Chicken tikka masala is usually made with heavy cream, but I like to use coconut milk instead; its subtle sweetness works beautifully with the spices in the dish.

Does tikka masala contain almonds? ›

To make the sauce, heat 2 tbsp of the ghee or butter in a large shallow pan with a lid. Cook the onions for 15 mins over a medium heat until starting to brown. Add the spices and remaining garlic and ginger paste, and cook for 2 mins. Stir in the tomato purée, ground almonds, a pinch of sugar and vinegar.

Does tikka masala contain turmeric? ›

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.

Is tikka masala the same as chickpea masala? ›

Chickpea tikka masala includes easy canned chickpeas in a warming curry sauce made from ginger, coconut milk, spices, and tomatoes. Traditional tikka masala is made with meat or vegetables and a cream-based sauce. Both vegan and non-vegan recipes are creamy, a little smokey, and full of Indian spices.

Which is healthier butter chicken or tikka masala? ›

Although both dishes have high levels of saturated fat, chicken remains the preferred choice for maintaining good health. Compared to other meats, chicken dishes tend to be more nutritious. Chicken tikka masala is a healthier option than butter chicken as it contains less fat (7 grams vs. 4 grams) and more protein.

What is a substitute for yogurt in tikka masala? ›

Ingredients and substitues for the homemade tikka masala

Greek yogurt: If you don't like Greek yogurt, use plain whole milk. For a dairy-free option, you may use almond or coconut milk. Fresh lemon juice: Do not use botteled lemon juice unless you have no other choice. Garlic and ginger: use fresh, not powder.

What can I substitute for cream in tikka masala? ›

So, instead of cream, I use yogurt and butter (cream's close cousin) to get that rich and velvety tomato gravy for my Chicken Tikka Masala. If you are one of those people who love cream in their Chicken Tikka, then swap out the yogurt and add it. It's all good.

What can you substitute for coconut milk in tikka masala? ›

Heavy cream

Some curries or Indian dishes call for heavy cream as a thickener, so this is another choice that works well. Heavy cream adds a richness that's perfect with curry and soups. Use it as a 1:1 substitute for coconut milk.

Is tikka masala truly Indian? ›

Chicken tikka masala is said to have been invented in Britain – but its origins are ancient, and lie in the Indian subcontinent.

Why is tikka masala so red? ›

That bright red sadly comes from Food Dyes like Red 40. Growing up, I never even realized this, but in recent years when I picked up a jar of pre-mixed Tandoori spice blend and read the ingredients – there it was – Red 40 right in the ingredient listing.

Does Trader Joe's tikka masala have nuts? ›


What are the disadvantages of chicken tikka masala? ›

**Saturated Fat and Cholesterol**: Creamy or heavily sauced chicken masala dishes may contain higher levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, which can negatively impact heart health if consumed in excess.

Do all Indian curries contain turmeric? ›

No, it depends upon the recipe. But approximately 80–85 % Indian curries have turmeric in them. Turmeric adds a robust and beautiful colour to the dish. Besides it's property of being an amazing healer,anti inflammatory,anti microbial, it adds it's distinct taste to the dish.

Is there saffron in tikka masala? ›

Add the garam masala, brown sugar, and tomatoes; mix well. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and a thick paste forms. Stir in cream. Add saffron and grilled chicken; stir.

What is chana masala made of? ›

Chana masala is a North Indian curried dish made with white chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. 'Chana' is a Hindi word for 'Chickpeas' and 'Masala' here refers to a 'spiced gravy'. So Chana Masala is nothing but chickpeas simmered in a spicy onion tomato masala.

Is chana masala the same as Garam Masala? ›

The difference between these two masala spices is that chana masala is way spicier than garam masala. Additionally, it has a more fruity and sweet note because of the powdered dried mangoes added to it. It also has no star anise — something that garam masala has.

Why is chana masala so good? ›

It's spicy, racy, and balanced. There's kick from cayenne, serrano, and chana masala powder. There's a bit of sour from the tomatoes, from the mango powder and pomegranate seeds in the chana masala powder.

What makes tikka masala different? ›

The only major difference that can be seen is that tikka masala contains more masala or spices in it. Tikka and tikka masala are of Indian origin. In tikka preparation, boneless chicken pieces are baked along with skewers in an oven made of clay called a tandoor.

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