Chicken tikka masala is a common Indian dish, but on this Meatless Monday, let’s swap the poultry for cauliflower. The florets are marinated in spiced yogurt, broiled to replicate the heat of a tandoor, then simmered in a fragrant masala sauce made with tomatoes, onion, cream, and additional spices. The firm vegetable holds up well and adds a sharp bite to the rich sauce. Serve this vegetarian stew over steamed basmati rice then top it with chewy and tart dried cranberries and crunchy pepitas for additional color and texture.
Cauliflower Tikka Masala
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
4 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 small heads cauliflower (broil 10 minutes per side)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, julienned
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream, warmed in a pot or microwave until hot
¾ cup minced cilantro, divided
Steamed basmati rice for serving
Dried cranberries and pepitas for garnish
In a small bowl, mix the turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin. Place 4 teaspoons of this mixture into a large bowl (reserve the rest for the sauce), then stir in the yogurt, 1 teaspoon garlic, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, and ½ teaspoon salt until ingredients are evenly distributed.
Cut the cauliflower heads into large florets and gently toss them in the yogurt mixture until coated. Arrange the florets in a single layer on a sheet pan. Heat your oven’s broiler and position a rack about 10 inches away from the heat source. Broil the cauliflower for 10 minutes then turn each piece over and broil for another 10 minutes, or until browned and slightly charred at the edges.
In a large sauce pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the julienned onion and sweat until softened and translucent. Add the second teaspoon of garlic, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, and ½ teaspoon salt, along with the remaining spice mixture, ground cardamom and crushed red pepper flakes; toast the spices for 20 seconds. Pour in the diced tomatoes, stir to combine all ingredients, then bring the sauce mixture to a simmer for 15 minutes so the spices can bloom.
Use an immersion or standard blender to puree the sauce, using caution to stand clear of hot splatter. Pour the hot cream into the pot and puree once more. Transfer the pot of sauce back to the stove, add the charred cauliflower florets, and bring this hearty vegetarian dish to a bare simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender when prodded with a fork. Gently stir in ½ cup minced cilantro.
Serve the Cauliflower Tikka Masala with steamed basmati or long grain rice and additional minced cilantro. Top each dish with a small handful of dried cranberries and pepitas for additional texture.