Coming from Toronto, Canada, I never wanted for good Indian food. Around every corner, I’d find a plethora of choices. By good I mean, the kind of food that reminds me of home. Moving to Little Rock, things changed. My favorite flavors – the nostalgic ones are only eaten when I whip them up myself. Now, a handful of simple ingredients work together to create this better-for-you cauliflower tikka masala. My Indian craving has been satiated with a dish that’s vegan, low carb, low calorie, and heart-healthy. Surprising, especially considering how much it tastes like restaurant tikka masala sauce. A few ingredient swaps to make the dish lighter and better for you: coconut milk (light!) for cream and vegetables instead of a protein.
The one thing I love about corn oil is how it has a completely neutral taste. This really allowed the flavor of the spices and coconut milk to shine through.
Fun fact: The smoke point of this corn oil is so much higher than other oils. At 450°F, corn oil is excellent to use for stir-frying and curries like this when you need to protect the strong flavor and nutritional value. So here’s the deal with this dish: usually, tikka masala contains a LOT of cream, and a lot of grease/oil. Yes, it tastes fabulous. But in this recipe, with these two simple swaps (corn oil for olive oil, coconut milk for heavy cream), you can enjoy an amazing tikka masala gravy with reduced fat and calories, and a cholesterol friendly oil without compromising on the creamy richness that you usually want from the gravy of a tikka masala.
Cauliflower cooks quite fast, so I was also very pleased that the cook time was about 14 minutes total, and all I needed to wash was the blender and one wok – a huge selling point for me, considering I cook a lot. Dishes pile up fast!
I was incredibly surprised at the creaminess and flavor that the coconut milk yielded. Generally, tikka masala sauce uses heavy cream to give the sauce a thick consistency. But coconut milk had very similar results, adding a delicious light coconutty flavor and had the benefit of not being super fatty like the cream.
In an attempt to eat more vegetables, I swapped chicken (that you generally see in tikka masala) for cauliflower, knowing that cauliflower is rich in vitamins (C and K), fights inflammation, and is low in calories!
An Indian classic made with better-for-you ingredients. Made with corn oil, cauliflower, and coconut milk, this tikka masala is flavorful and guilt-free!
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 1 tablespoon of any corn oil
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (10 oz.)
- 1 can of tomato paste
- 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped +plus more to garnish
- 4 red chilies, stems removed
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 of a white onion, diced
- 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander powder
- naan or rice, to serve
- In a blender, pulse diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cilantro, red chilies, and coconut milk, let it rest for a few minutes.
- Over medium low heat, heat corn oil in a wok or large saucepan and brown the garlic and ginger together. After 1-2 minutes, add in the white onion and saute until onions are translucent.
- Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Add to the blender. Blend with tomato mixture until completely smooth.
- Add the sauce to the wok and simmer for 2-3 minutes, adding the spices and stirring.
- Add in cauliflower florets and stir to coat in the sauce. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes until florets are tender.
- Garnish with cilantro and coconut milk or coconut cream.