Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala

April 11, 2023
Like many people, I became a vegan because I love animals. But the more I learned about how our modern food system damages the environment and sabotages our health, the more interested I became in optimizing my diet and minimizing my environmental impact through a whole-food plant-based lifestyle. On the way, I found easy ways to turn some of my favorite recipes into nutritional powerhouses. This chickpea tikka masala is one of my favorites.

Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines to cook, but a lot of the recipes use coconut milk, which is loaded with unhealthy saturated fats and often relies on animal exploitation during its production. Instead of coconut milk, this recipe uses blended cashews to create a rich, creamy texture. The result? The saturated fats drop from 8.12 grams per serving to just 1.25 grams per serving! And we replace the artery-clogging saturated fat with brain-boosting, heart-healthy unsaturated fat.

This recipe is both delicious and loaded with nutrients, so you can eat it knowing you’re making a good choice for animals, for the planet, and for your health. I hope you enjoy!
vegan tikka masala collage of a bird's eye view of a bowl and a simmering pot.

Vegan Chickpea Tikka Masala

Recipe Type: Hearty Entrees
utensils YIELDS 8 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger (or 1/4 inch)
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cans chickpeas (15 oz each)
  • 2 cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • to taste salt and pepper
        graphic for recipe card


I recommend starting by chopping all the veggies, getting the spices ready, and draining the beans so you can just add ingredients during the cooking process.

Part 1: Cashew Cream

1) Soak cashews in hot water for at least an hour to soften them.

2) Place cashews in a high-speed blender with 1 cup of water.

3) Blend for 1 minute, or until you have a cream (it should look like sour cream). You can adjust the amount of water to make the cream thicker or runnier.

4) Set aside.

Part 2: Tikka Masala

1) Add broth to a 1” thick pan or wide dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat.

2) Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

3) Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.

4) Add ginger and spices and stir to coat onions and garlic, about 30 seconds.

5) Add chickpeas and diced tomatoes. Stir until well mixed.

6) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

7) Add cashew cream and simmer for 5–10 minutes, until it reaches your ideal consistency.

(Bonus – add 1–2 cups of nutrient-dense spinach for an extra boost!)

8) Remove from heat.

9) Enjoy! I prefer to serve this over organic brown basmati rice, but feel free to use your grain of choice.

Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 4 days.

Nutritional Information, not including rice (according to MyFitnessPal):

Calories – 312

Fat – 10g (1.25 saturated; 5g unsaturated)

Carbohydrates – 44g

Protein – 15g

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet, I highly recommend:

·      How Not to Die, How Not to Diet, and – all from Dr. Michael Gregor

·      The Alzheimer’s SolutionThe 30-Day Alzheimer’s Solution, and The Brain Health Revolution Podcast – all from Dr. Dean Sherzai and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai

·      The Proof Podcast and The Proof Is in the Plants – both from Simon Hill

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Photo: Scott Larkin

Scott Larkin
Scott lives in Minnesota with his wife and cat. He writes about veganism, sustainable fashion, and health and fitness. He can sometimes be found on Instagram @vegan_gent (but he doesn’t post very often).


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