Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Truly fine Indian cooking is all about the careful layering of spices. Hours of toasting, grinding and simmering will yield results finer than even most neighborhood Indian takeout restaurants. If you have an arsenal of infrequently used spices and nothing but time to burn, this can be a fun way to while away the afternoon … but some of us need a few shortcuts.

Luckily, you can produce perfectly respectable results that will help satisfy your cravings for the earthy, warm flavors of Indian takeout with just a few pantry staples. And if you’re trying to cut back on the amount of meat in your diet, Indian-influenced cuisine is a great way to do it. We love making traditional tikka masala (a yogurt-marinated chicken dish in a tomato-based sauce with adjustable levels of spiciness) with big florets of roasted cauliflower instead. 

In addition to being a great source of fiber, this superfood is rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin), vitamins C, E, and K, folate and minerals. A diet that includes cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, may be linked to reduced risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate, colorectal, lung and breast.

Cauliflower Tikka Masala
Serves 4


  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 1 tsp dry ground ginger)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  •  2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, or to taste)
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish


Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Arrange cauliflower florets on a sheet pan, and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, turning occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and light golden brown, about 30 minutes.

In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, coat pan with remaining olive oil. Add onions and cook until tender and beginning to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add ginger, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric and (optional) cayenne, and cook until fragrant, just a few seconds more. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and stir in heavy cream.

Toss roasted cauliflower in sauce, top with chopped cilantro and serve with rice or enjoy on its own. 

Note: After roasting the cauliflower to a nice, light golden brown, we like to blast it under the broiler for a minute or two to add some charred bits for visual interest and texture.