This Butter Cauliflower Recipe is a vegetarian riff on the classic Indian dish, Butter Chicken. In this version, tender cauliflower florets are simmered in a spiced cream sauce and served over rice with yogurt. A cozy weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
The Best Butter Cauliflower Recipe:
It’s official, cauliflower has hit its peak. In this Butter Cauliflower recipe, the versatile veggie takes on bright, vibrant flavors, and creates the heartiest homemade version of a classic. Serve it over rice, quinoa, or your grain of choice for a gluten free, vegetarian bowl of BLISS.
In its purest form, Butter Chicken consists of chunks of chicken marinated in a yogurt-and-spice mixture. The chicken gets simmered in a luxuriously creamy sauce comprising tomatoes, aromatics, a wealth of spices, and butter. This dish differs from Tikka Masala in that its more creamy than spicy, however Butter Chicken can still pack a fiery punch. It’s one of my favorite Indian dishes because it truly has the power to warm you from the inside out. It’s also incredibly versatile, and you’ll notice most versions has varying ratios of spice.
Butter Cauliflower is best served with a side of naan to sop up any remaining sauce. It also makes the BEST leftovers once the flavors really have a chance to develop and marry. In short, it’s the kind of dish I could eat on repeat and never tire of.
How to Make Butter Chicken Vegetarian:
Cauliflower is one of the best plant-based subs for chicken in this recipe. However, in order to achieve the meatiest texture, the cauliflower requires a couple extra steps. First, sear the cauliflower florets in a skillet until slightly softened. Next, toss them in a corn starch, lemon juice, and spice mixture. Since classic Butter Chicken is marinaded in yogurt and spices, this step mimics the same acid + spice infusion. The corn starch will also help create a crust on the cauli, helping it retain its texture after being simmered in the sauce.
As far as spices, the classic lineup includes garam masala, ginger, cumin, fenugreek, and chiles. Some versions may also call for coriander, cardamom, turmeric, and paprika. In addition, Butter Chicken always calls for butter, tomatoes, and cream, which compose the base of the sauce. In this version, I try to keep the spices relatively streamlined (turmeric, cumin, paprika, ginger, etc.), however garam masala is a must! Incase you’re not familiar, garam masala is a super fragrant spice blend that includes many of the above mentioned ingredinets. The main difference between garam masala and curry powder is that it does not include turmeric. For this reason, garam masala tends to taste a bit sweeter, more floral, and less earthy.
What to Serve with Butter Chicken (or Cauliflower):
I love serving this dish over basmati rice with a side of naan. However if you’re looking to add some protein, I recommend serving it over quinoa or tossing in some chickpeas. Swirling in a dollop of Greek yogurt at the end also ups the protein ante. Plus, it makes the sauce even creamier and balances the spice. This recipe is quite filling on its own between the fiber and satiating fats, though feel free to adjust and make it your own!
To finish off, add some fresh cilantro sprigs and a spritz of lemon juice!
And, as always, if you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations!
Other Healthy Cauliflower Recipes to Try:
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. corn starch
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric, divided
- 3 tsp. garam masala, divided
- 1½ tsp. salt, divided
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger (sub ground ginger)
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Basmati rice for serving
- Fresh cilantro and whole-milk Greek yogurt for garnish
- Combine lemon juice, corn starch, cumin, and ½ tsp each of turmeric, garam masala, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook cauliflower, tossing occasionally, until browned in places and beginning to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and transfer cauliflower to bowl with corn starch mixture and toss to coat. Return seasoned cauliflower to skillet and cook another 7 to 8 minutes, until charred in spots and crisp-tender. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil and butter to skillet. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, and tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add remaining ½ tsp turmeric, 2½ tsp garam masala, and 1 tsp salt, along with paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne; cook 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and broth; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stir in cream, and return cauliflower to skillet. Simmer mixture uncovered until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice with a dollop of yogurt.