First recipe of 2018!!! Woohoo!!! And friends, it’s a good one. Well, it is if you like Indian food. If not, um, I’m sorry. But maybe learning to like Indian food could be your new New Year’s resolution, because let’s face it, you already gave up on your other one. 😉 But seriously, folks, this sauce is so warm, comforting, and richly complex, yet it’s easy to make and doesn’t require 15 bazillion spices that you have to get in an ethnic market. Ok, maybe one you might have to hunt a little bit for, but IT’S WORTH IT. I present to you, for the inaugural recipe of the year, Vegan Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce.
Now, let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, ok? I’m not Indian. I do not profess this recipe to be “authentic” in any way, because that would be totally wrong of me to do so. But what I can tell you is that if I was served this at an Indian restaurant, I would be very, very happy, and would mop it up with all of the roti I could eat. And, bonus, it’s a sauce that can be made ahead and frozen for quick weeknight meals that are better than takeout and healthier, too. Let’s do this!
First up, gather your ingredients. It’s a fairly short list for such a complex-tasting sauce:
BASICS – Onion, ginger root, raw cashews (this makes the sauce creamy in lieu of cream, and it has magical thickening properties)
SPICES – Coriander, cumin, paprika, cardamom, cayenne (optional!), nutmeg, and salt. See? Nothing TOO crazy if you tend to have a fairly stocked spice cabinet. The cardamom might be a little bit tricky to find, but you should. It’s wonderful.
SOMETHING GREEN – Cilantro. If you’re in the “Cilantro, get behind thee!” camp, you can totally leave this out.
Spices are so beautiful. And damn, they taste good.
Ok, so this is so easy, people. Saute the onion, add the ginger and spices and saute a minute more, blend up the tomato sauce, cashews, and water until creamy, then simmer it all together with your favorite plant-based protein. I love chickpeas in this, but tofu is also great, and you could even just make it totally veg-friendly and simmer in some cauliflower. Or…serve it over cauliflower rice! That’s totally what I should have done for this picture, but I love me some basmati rice, so…
I wish I had leftovers, but Michael ate over half the pan when I made this, so I guess I’ll have to make a double batch next time. You should do that too, because then you can stash some in the freezer and pull it out whenever the Indian food craving strikes.
QUESTION: Do you like the idea of this simmer sauce concept? I plan to do more, but only if you want them. Let me know in the comments! I take requests. 🙂
Vegan Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, optional
- 1 tablespoon peeled ginger root, grated (about a 1-inch piece)
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 3/4 cups water, plus more to thin sauce if needed
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
- In a large skillet, saute the onion in for 3-5 minutes, until translucent. I don’t typically use oil for this, but will often add a splash of water if the onions are sticking to the pan.
- Add the ginger, coriander, cumin, cardamom, paprika, nutmeg, and cayenne, if using, and cook for a minute or two, just to wake up the spices. Remove from heat while you blend up the sauce.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the tomato sauce, water, cashews, and salt until smooth.
- Add the sauce mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat until thickened.
- At this point, add your choice of plant-based protein (chickpeas or tofu are great!), simmer until warmed through, adding water a bit at a time if the sauce is thickening too much.
- Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or whatever other starch you prefer, and top with chopped cilantro if you like.