Cauliflower Tikka Masala – an easy and delicious plant-based curry made with cauliflower, chickpeas, and onions cooked in an aromatic spice-filled gravy made from creamy coconut milk. Cooked in the Instant Pot and ready in just 30 minutes, enjoy this Vegetarian Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe with rice, naan, and a generous handful of mild cashews.
Cauliflower Tikka Masala (Gobi Masala)
Cauliflower tikka masala (also known as cauliflower or gobi masala) is an easy and delicious tomato-based curry filled with cauliflower florets and garbanzo beans. Although different from the much-loved Chicken Tikka Masala we often see in Indian restaurants, this cauliflower tikka masala is filled with several overlapping spices and flavors we often crave when we think of Indian food.
Aside from its hearty texture and awesome flavor (yes, meat-eaters, I’m talking to you!), this easy family cauliflower masala recipe cooks entirely in your Instant Pot in just 30 minutes.
Add this delicious gobi masala to your next “Meatless Monday” meal plan and serve with rice, warm naan, or fluffy pita.
Ingredients in Cauliflower Tikka Masala
You will need the following ingredients to make this cauliflower tikka masala recipe:
- Oil – To make this recipe vegan, I used coconut oil. If vegan versus vegetarian is not important to you, feel free to use butter or any other fat (such as ghee or olive oil).
- Onion – Yellow onions are my top pick for this cauliflower tikka masala recipe since they’re fairly mild.
- Chili pepper (optional) – Sadly, I knew my child wouldn’t eat this unless I blended it into a soup (actually., that is an idea. sorry, I digress…) so I chose to add a couple of serrano peppers to spice it up a bit. This is optional. You may also add jalapeno if that’s all that’s available or even a pinch of cayenne powder.
- Garlic and Ginger – Like garlic, fresh ginger has the best flavor. I typically use a Microplane to grate ginger as it can be very difficult to chop with a knife.
- Garam masala – Garam Masala is actually a blend of spices including black pepper, mace, cinnamon, cloves, brown cardamom, nutmeg, and green cardamom. The garam masala blends will differ between brands and region, but this is one that I recommend.
- Curry powder – Just like garam masala, curry powder is actually a blend of different spices. Typically, curry powder includes ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers. Sometimes you’ll find ground ginger, garlic, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, paprika, nutmeg, and cardamom. This is the one I recommend.
- Ground cumin – A staple in much of Indian cooking, cumin gives an earthy, warming, somewhat peppery character to food.
- Paprika – Mild and somewhat sweet, this spice is used to season and color various dishes.
- Dried Fenugreek Leaves – also known as kasoori methi, these dried leaves are commonly used in Indian cooking and taste like a combination of celery and fennel with a somewhat bitter taste.
- Tomatoes and Tomato paste – I added one 28-ounce can of tomatoes. You may also use crushed tomatoes if you prefer a less chunky tomato sauce. The tomato paste will help thicken the sauce slightly.
- Sugar (optional) – Sugar is optional, but it does help balance some of the acidity from the spices and tomatoes.
- Cauliflower – Look for a nice, big, beautiful cauliflower. Read all about cauliflower in this post.
- Vegetable broth – Feel free to use homemade vegetable broth, beef broth, or even chicken broth. Just keep in mind that using chicken or beef broth will turn this recipe from vegetarian to non-vegetarian.
- Chickpeas – Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein and fiber. I added one can to this recipe, but feel free to add more if you want your curry to be a little extra filling. Make sure to drain and rinse chickpeas before adding to the curry.
- Coconut milk – Yes, the full-fat kind. Reduced fat coconut milk is too watered down.
- Cashews – If I find that the gravy is still pretty watery, I like to add a couple of tablespoons of ground cashews. It helps thicken things (just slightly). Of course, this is optional.
- Chopped cilantro
- Additional coconut milk or cream
- Whole or crushed cashews
How to Make Cauliflower Tikka Masala
Grab your Instant Pot because we’re going to learn how to make this vegetarian cauliflower tikka masala-
Set Instant Pot to sauté mode. I always start my Instant Pot set on sauté “high”, however, as you begin to add spices, you may need to reduce heat to “medium” or even “low” to prevent the spices from burning.
Sauté the onion and pepper. Once your Instant Pot is is nice and hot, add the oil and chopped onion and mix well to combine. Sauté, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the finely chopped Serrano chili pepper and a dash of salt. Continue to cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring often, before stirring in the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds or so.
- If, at any point, the onions start to burn, reduce the temperature to medium. As much as I love my Instant Pot, I find that reaching that happy sauté temperature can sometimes be a challenge.
Add the spices. Reduce sauté temperature to medium-low, if needed, and stir in the garam masala, curry powder, ground cumin, paprika, and Fenugreek leaves. Cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes, taking extra care not to burn your spices as they will turn bitter. Mix in the tomato paste.
Add the canned diced tomatoes, granulated sugar, cauliflower florets, and vegetable broth. Mix well to combine.
Cook. Secure the lid and close the vent to sealing. Cancel sauté mode and press the pressure cook button or “manual” mode. Set to cook for 3 minutes on “high”.
Manual release. Once the cooking time has completed, allow your Instant Pot to release naturally for 1 minute then manually release.
Carefully remove the lid and stir in the chickpeas, coconut milk, and ground cashews (to thicken).
Serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, cashews, sesame seeds, and a side of rice, if desired.
Tips and Tricks
- The leftovers are AMAZING so definitely hold on to those or double the recipe and enjoy all week long!
- Is Cauliflower Tikka Masala gluten-free? Yes! Unless, of course, you serve it with naan or pita bread.
- Make it mild or spicy. Depending on your heat tolerance, you may choose to make this gobi Masala either mild or spicy. As previously mentioned, I added a serrano pepper to spice it up a bit, but a teaspoon of cayenne powder will also add some nice heat.
- Fresh is best. Fresh ginger and fresh garlic – always.
- Don’t burn the spices. It’s good to let your spices get a little toasted with the onions, garlic, and ginger, but let them burn? No good. Why? Well, burnt spices turn bitter which is a guaranteed way to ruin a delicious dinner. It’s easy to prevent this from happening – stir frequently and make sure the temperature never gets too high.
- Don’t forget to manually release after 1 minute of natural release (but be careful!). Here’s the thing, the Instant Pot takes approximately 10 minutes to warm up then it will cook for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes, it will stop cooking and very slowly depressurize. To prevent the cauliflower from turning mushy, you will want to manually release the pressure after cooking. Take extra care when doing so – keep face away from the vent and place a towel over the vent to help absorb some of the steam.
- Add extra veggies. Peas a very popular in Indian cooking.
What to serve with Vegetarian Cauliflower Tikka Masala
My husband is half Indian and I have been with him twelve (or is it thirteen?) years. Anyway, after all these many years visiting and feasting at his mother’s home, I have learned that you will (probably) never find an Indian household with just one dish prepared. Of course, I can only speak from experience, but from my experience, I have learned that Indian cooking is all about eating “family style”, reusing and repurposing, mixing and matching, and always, always eating with your hands.
What then should be served with this gobi masala?
First and foremost, I recommend getting started with some kind of starch- something to sop up all that delicious gravy because yes, everything must be eaten and, remember, we’re eating with our hands here. Rice is a given. But you’ll almost always find a side of naan or paratha which are actually the utensils, or scooping devices you’ll use to actually get the food into your mouth.
Of course, I’m totally serious here. But feel free to use a fork or spoon if necessary.
Once the starch and scooping situation has been sorted, you are free to decide if you would like to add additional dishes to your Indian feast. Delicious options include the always popular butter chicken and Tandoori Chicken Gyros.
(I realize now that this blog is neglected of Indian recipes. It’s my husband’s fault. He grew up eating Indian food and never requests it for dinner anymore.)
For more vegetarian recipes, check out:
- Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
- Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Gnocchi
- Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe
- Cauliflower Leek and Potato Soup (Dairy-Free)
- Turmeric Broth Soup with Wild Rice and Vegetables
If you try making Instant Pot Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE FORKED SPOON NEWSLETTER FOR FREE AND RECEIVE WEEKLY RECIPE NOTIFICATIONS DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX!
Instant Pot Tikka Masala Recipe
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 1 Serrano chili pepper (diced (optional))
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 medium cauliflower (chopped into small florets)
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (plus more to taste)
- 1 tbsp ground cashews (optional (to thicken))
- Chopped cilantro (to garnish)
- Whole cashews (to garnish)
- Set Instant Pot to sauté mode (see notes).
- Once hot, add the oil and chopped onion to the bowl of your Instant Pot and mix well to combine. Sauté the onion, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften and turn translucent. Add the finely chopped Serrano chili pepper and a dash of salt. Continue to cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring often, before stirring in the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds or so.
- Reduce sauté temperature to medium-low, if needed, and stir in the garam masala, curry powder, ground cumin, paprika, and Fenugreek leaves. Cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes, taking extra care not to burn your spices as they will turn bitter. Mix in the tomato paste.
- Add the canned diced tomatoes, granulated sugar, cauliflower florets, and vegetable broth. Mix well to combine.
- Secure the lid and close the vent to seal. Cancel sauté mode and press the pressure cook button or “manual” mode. Set to cook for 3 minutes on “high” (see notes). Once the cooking time has completed, allow your Instant Pot to release naturally for 1 minute then manually release.
- Carefully remove the lid and stir in the chickpeas, coconut milk, and ground cashews (to thicken).
- Serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, cashews, sesame seeds, and a side of rice, if desired.
- Initially start with your Instant Pot sauté mode set to “high”, however, as you add the spices, you may need to reduce heat to “medium” or even “low” to prevent the spices from burning.
- The Instant Pot will take approximately 10 minutes to warm up before cooking for 3 minutes and then very slowly depressurize. To prevent the cauliflower from turning mushy, you will want to manually release the pressure after cooking. Take extra care when doing so - keep face away from the vent and place a towel over the vent to help absorb some of the steam.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)