This Vegan Butter Chicken is a non-traditional take on a popular Indian dish but it is just as creamy, tangy and it’s bursting with flavor. Instead of chicken, I used chickpeas, cauliflower and red lentils, making this dish just as protein packed as the traditional. And best yet? It comes together in just about half an hour. The perfect recipe for a busy week night or an easy meal prep!
Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines to eat out because so many of the menu items can easily be made vegan. Most of the sauces and bases of our favorite Indian dishes are generally vegetarian or accidentally vegan and they usually have so many good spices which are packed with anti-oxidants and so healthy!
Besides the coconut milk that makes this sauce incredibly creamy, I think the spice mix here is really key.
Spices are so gorgeous and they can literally transform a dish. Often I think when people just start cooking they make the mistake of being too timid with the spices!
For this vegan butter chicken I used curry powder, paprika, parsley, garlic powder, ground black pepper, coriander and also fresh ginger and turmeric.
You could use powdered ginger and turmeric in a pinch but if you have the chance to get fresh, I highly recommend it. Fresh ginger in particular just can’t be beat. It’s so fragrant and lovely!
Making The Sauce
To start, you’re going to add your diced onion and finely minced garlic and turmeric to an oiled cast iron skillet.
Once fragrant and translucent, add in tomato paste, bouillon paste, and spices and form into a thin paste.
Next add in the water, red lentils (extra protein!) and cauliflower florets. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
Be sure to stir every now and then so the red lentils do not burn to the bottom.
After about 15 minutes, or until the red lentils are cooked, add in the chickpeas and coconut milk and stir to fully incorporate. Make sure to use a full fat coconut milk for extra creaminess (not coconut cream). Allow to heat through and it’s ready to serve.
That’s it! Super simple and the perfect weeknight recipe.
If you don’t have cauliflower or chickpeas, you could substitute in any vegetables. The real star of the show here is the sauce so don’t be afraid to use what you have. This could be a good clean out the fridge recipe with any vegetables you have on hand.
I really hope you guys love this one and I promise – you won’t miss the chicken!
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Vegan Butter Chicken with Cauliflower and Chickpeas
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can of full fat coconut milk not coconut cream
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 onion diced
- 1 tablespoon bouillon vegetable paste
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced (can substitute 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
- ½ tablespoon fresh turmeric minced (can substitute 1 teaspoon ground turmeric)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- white rice
- vegan naan bread
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to a cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat.
- Add in onion, fresh ginger, and fresh turmeric and cook until fragrant and translucent.
- Next, add in tomato paste, vegetable bouillon paste, and all of the dry spices. Form into a thin paste. Add in a splash of water if necessary.
- Then add in the rinsed red lentils, cauliflower florets, and 3 cups of water. Simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until red lentils are cooked through. Be sure to stir every so often to prevent red lentils from burning to the bottom.
- After 15 minutes, stir in the canned coconut milk and chickpeas. Fully incorporate and allow to warm through.
- Top with cilantro and serve with white rice and vegan naan. Enjoy!
- Storage: Store the butter chicken with cauliflower and chickpeas separately from rice in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- If you do not have vegetable bouillon paste (this is the brand I use), you can substitute 3 cups of vegetable broth instead of water.