Using inspiration from chicken tikka masala, a crowd favourite, I subbed in some vegetarian options for a creamy, delicious, overfilling meal. When I posted my nightly dinner picture, this was the most requested recipe I have ever had. I’m excited to share. This meal makes a lot – so you will have plenty left over for lunch or freezing.
Recipe for Naan : HERE
Before Aaron essentially moved in with me, I was planning to make a chicken tikka masala with my flatmate. The week we bought groceries, the last time I stepped foot in a market and now over 5 weeks ago, we stocked up prepared to cook as we normally do (“like kings and queens”). Then, two days later, everything was completely different. My flatmate was nervously heading to catch a flight to Switzerland and Aaron was driving across London with bags full of things to “move in”. My café job was on hold. My university courses were online… Amazing how much can change in a short time!
Aaron is vegetarian, as I was for a good portion of my life and attempt to be still. Stomachless Rachel needs protein, and a quick protein boost for me is meat, especially on days when I feel like I can’t eat. In fact, chicken was the only meat item we purchased for those meals we planned. When Aaron arrived, I put the chicken into the freezer and tried to think of what I could do in order to make this recipe into something we could both enjoy. I decided to sub in ingredients that I had, as well as some that he brought with. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of the cooking process as this was pre-food blog, but I have got pictures of the final product.
Would you believe, I ate that entire plate full after an hour at the table. I felt like I was splitting at the seams literally, but it was so tasty. I couldn’t stop!
We are big curry eaters. Aaron’s parents love curry as well, with Sunday trips to a vegetarian Indian buffet being the norm in pre-quarantine times. I am also not afraid of spice, but this is a very mild curry. In fact – chicken tikka masala is the UK’s most popular dish and claims have been made that it originated in Scotland. These claims say that migrant chefs, most likely from Bangladesh, created the dish while in the UK. Peu importe the origin, the popularity of this dish has put it on menus across the globe. It was my favourite thing to eat at Indian restaurants growing up, just behind veggie kofta.
My previous flatmate’s partner is Bangladeshi, so we are very lucky to be well supplied on spices here, including a special mix that her mother makes. If you do not normally cook curry, and your only spice to hand is curry powder I highly recommend ordering at least some, if not all of the following…
- cumin seeds and powder
- cardamom pods
- coriander seeds and powder
- black mustard seeds
- garam masala
- bay leaves
- fennel seeds
- nigella seeds
- cinnamon sticks and powder
Remember when I mentioned my kitchen had over 20 spices? I counted, and we have well over 30, including most if not all of the list above. Adding spices such as these to your cooking allows for bold flavours and exciting combinations to be discovered.
Another note: If you are going to use a raw bean in this recipe, such as black eyed beans as I did or dried chickpeas, make sure you give them a good soak before cooking. Overnight in plenty of water, or if you wake up early enough in the morning, about 6-8 hours should be plenty fine.
NOW, to how we actually made this recipe… I took the original recipe and switched the chicken for cauliflower. The first step was to mix the cauliflower in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and about 1/2 teaspoon of each of the following: garam masala, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, and ground chili pepper (adjust to your spice level). If it were chicken, you would let it marinate overnight, but as it is cauliflower and not so porous, it won’t absorb as much of the flavour. I basically immediately put them into a skillet over medium heat, and cooked the cauliflower until tender and browned. It will take about 5-10 minutes, and you will notice a difference. Make sure to keep the cauliflower moving in the pan, otherwise the yogurt coating will burn and stick to the pan.
In the background, if you are using raw black eyed beans, they should have soaked overnight, or about 6-8 hours, as I stated before. While cooking the rest of the meal, I simmered these, covered on a back burner. That gave them around 20-30 more minutes of cooking time, which they will need. You could easily use chickpeas (tinned or dried) or any other bean you’d like – or simply none at all and just do a mixture of veggies!
Meanwhile, in a big pot, I cooked a diced onion until it was soft. Add some crushed garlic. Finally, add the same mix of spices as above. I always eyeball my spices. It makes passing on recipes to friends difficult. I would suggest 1 tsp of salt and each spice (garam masala, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, and ground chili pepper) which you can adjust to your personal desire. A knob of crushed ginger would go well in here as well, if you have a tiny bit on hand. Cook this until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Now, add in the tomato sauce. I used tinned tomatoes, pulsed briefly in the food processor. These will add into the onion-garlic-spice mix and cook until thickened, about 10-15 minutes on a simmer, medium low heat. Taste the mix, and decide if you would like more spice, salt, or what you might like to stand out more. Add in 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar.
Once this is mixed and thickened, add in the double cream. 300mL should be plenty. Stir this all together, let it come to a light simmer, and then add in the cooked cauliflower and soaked/cooked black eyed beans.
While the curry cooks together for about 20 minutes on medium heat, I made the naan with the help of Aaron. Today will not be the day that I post this recipe, but stay tuned ! It is indeed coming…
You could serve the curry over basmati rice, or simply with the naan. Either way, it is a creamy delicious burst of flavour that you will be happy to have tried!
You could also make this recipe vegan by subbing the double cream for coconut cream, though be aware that it will have a coconut flavour and you may have to up your spices.
This will be the first of many curries that I cook for you, don’t you worry. In fact, last night I made a dal bukhara, I also make a killer golden dal, and the Indian subcontinent offers so much delicious variation in food, I am always happy to try it all. What is your favourite Indian dish? What should I try next?
Veggie Tikka Masala
Let me know in the comments what spices you need, and how this recipe turned out for you !