Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vegetarian Tikka Masala with Greek Yogurt

Since we arrived in the United Kingdom last fall, I have fallen inexplicably in love with British food, both the classic dishes and the produce and seafood available at regular open-air markets. The culinary landscape of Britain reminds me of America in many ways; they have adopted an endless array dishes from around the globe. 

My absolute favorite is Chicken Tikka Masala. Nothing like it with a cold glass of cider while watching a football match at the pub--with my kids of course--‘cause that’s how they roll here. What a country.

Sadly I cannot share my great love for this classic curry with Rich because he doesn’t eat meat.

Until today.

Today I created such a blissful vegetarian interpretation of tikka masala using squash, cauliflower, chickpeas and Greek yogurt that I may never go back. 

When cooking with yogurt, follow a few simple ground rules. First, temper the yogurt--as you would egg yolks--before adding it to a hot dish. It must warm slowly, not straight from the refrigerator into a simmering pot. Second, make sure that the hot dish isn’t too hot when you add the yogurt. Aim for around 120 degrees Fahrenheit so as not to destroy all of yogurt's lovely active cultures.

Ok, enough science. Time for the food.

Serves four
Olive oil
½  head of cauliflower, cut or broken into 1 inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch smoked paprika
Pinch red chili flake
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 15-ounce cans whole plum tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups Greek yogurt, full fat and at room temperature
¼ bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked Basmati rice for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the cauliflower and squash out in a roasting pan and douse generously with olive oil. Roast for about 30 minutes, until fork tender.

Grind the spices, salt, ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and spice paste and cook for another minute. Add the plum tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon. Add the roasted vegetables, cover and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and remove about one half cup of the mixture, mostly liquid if possible. Fold in the chickpeas.

Place the yogurt in a mixing bowl  and stir in the hot liquid to temper the yogurt. When it is warm to the touch, add the yogurt mixture to the skillet and stir. Stir in the cilantro, then season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle over hot Basmati rice and serve. 


  1. Did you put the chickpeas in with the tomatoes or vegetables or yogurt? This looks delicious!

    1. Apologies! Yes, fold the chickpeas into the tomato and vegetable pot after removing it from the heat.
      It really was delicious, not just "make again for Rich and I" but "make for company."