Slow cooker vegetarian tikka masala highlights the sultry spices of the Indian kitchen in a restorative, streamlined supper. Serve over basmati rice for a gluten-free and vegan meal. Today, we’re fending off winter chill with a recipe that’s as comforting as it is nutritious.
What is Tikka Masala?
In short, a cozy curry dish signature to Indian cuisine that hits all the right notes with fragrant garam masala, peppery paprika, and a wealth of aromatics. Traditionally, tikka masala includes chunks of roasted, marinated chicken, however this version is doubling up on the veggie goodness. To finish off, coconut milk is stirred in at the end to mellow and loosen the mixture just enough so that it can be spooned over rice.
Which Vegetables Go In Tikka Masala?
For a healthier version of the cultural classic, this recipe highlights hearty root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots for added heft and fiber. Also in the mix is cauliflower, which becomes buttery soft when slow cooked. Stirring in green peas at the end adds a pop of color and, as a result, a pop of vegetal sweetness in each bite.
In addition (or in place of), the veggies used here, chunks of celery root, butternut squash, parsnips, or rutabaga would also be delicious in this hearty dish.
Which Spices Are In Tikka Masala?
A host of spices including garam masala, ginger, and paprika give the dish alluring aromas and complexity. Most classic tikka masala recipes also include ground turmeric, which is to say, you can switch up the spices based on your personal preference.
Garam masala is a peppery Northern Indian spice blend containing up to 12 spices. Typically, I buy it from the bulk spice section of my local Whole Foods or Sprouts to keep price in check and only purchase what I need at the time. Because it’s not a spice blend I lean on too often, I’d rather not let excess go rancid as a result of sitting idle in the cabinet for months. If you can’t find garam masala, however, you can substitute equal parts ground cumin, pepper, cloves, and nutmeg.
Similarly, another flavor booster used in tikka masala is tomato paste, which ups the umami and complexity factor in a big way.
What Do I Serve With Tikka Masala?
To serve, spoon this flavorful mixture over basmati rice, or your grain of choice (for example, farro, quinoa, or barley)! (Insiders note: To make dinnertime even easier, and therefore foolproof, use heat-and-eat pouches of precooked unseasoned basmati rice.) In addition, I love topping it with a dollop of Greek yogurt to further amp up the creaminess. Bonus points for serving alongside fresh naan bread to soak up that luscious, velvety sauce.
This big-batch recipe is perfect for make-ahead lunches and, above all, holds up beautifully to freezing. When ready to enjoy, simply thaw in the microwave in 2-minute intervals until warm, or defrost in the refrigerator over night. If you make this recipe, I’d love if you could come back and leave a rating and review, as well as tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations!
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 3 cups cubed Yukon gold or russet potatoes (about 2 small potatoes)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced at a diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. garam masala
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ¾ tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¾ cup frozen and thawed green peas
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Cooked basmati rice for serving
- Combine first 12 ingredients (cauliflower through salt) in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours, or LOW 8 to 9 hours, until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat; stir in thawed green peas and coconut milk. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
- Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.