Vegan Butter Chicken (Cauliflower and Tempeh)

This vegan butter chicken with cauliflower and tempeh takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish. It’s naturally gluten-free and easy to meal prep.

Vegan butter chicken with basmati rice in a bowl

This vegan butter chicken recipe can easily become a family favorite. As with many popular vegan Indian dishes, the unique combination of spices that makes them so irresistible. This recipe is no exception.

The tasty blend of Indian spices paired with tomatoes and coconut milk is key to creating that flavorful sauce.

Cauliflower and tempeh make a great vegan alternative to chicken. They are also gluten-free and low-carb.

It’s even more delicious paired with some fragrant basmati rice, roti, or naan, or try this Indian Brussels sprouts recipe. This is one of those dishes that will keep your family coming back for more. For another delicious curry recipe, try this Pumpkin Chickpea Kale Curry.

Ingredients you’ll need

Cauliflower

Fresh or frozen cauliflower can be used in this recipe. 

Tempeh

Tempeh is similar to tofu but it’s made from whole, fermented soybeans. It can also be made from chickpeas, black beans or even hemp seeds for a soy-free option.

It easy to flavor and has a firmer texture than tofu. I went into more details about why tempeh is so great in my Vegan Tempeh Bacon Sandwich recipe.

Indian spices

The Indian spices are the star of this recipe. They include garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cardamom and chilli powder.

Tomatoes

Traditional butter chicken recipes use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. They give the dish the best flavor and provides acidity to balance the richness and creaminess of the dish.

I’ve also made this recipe using tomato paste which was fine as a substitute. I’d recommend using canned if that’s all you have available.

However, try not to use sweetened tomato or pasta sauce. This dish is meant to be more savory than sweet.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk adds the richness and creaminess that this recipe needs. You can also use soy or cashew milk.

How to make Vegan Butter Chicken

(Quick summary. More details in the recipe card at the end)

1. In a small bowl, combine garam masala, turmeric and cumin.

2. Cut tempeh into cubes and add to a bowl.

3. Thaw frozen cauliflower and drain properly or rinse fresh, chopped cauliflower. Add to the bowl with tempeh and season with 2 teaspoons of the spice blend.

4. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons oil and add tempeh and cauliflower. Cook until brown.

5. Add ginger, garlic, cardamom, chilli and remaining spices. Toast until fragrant then add tomato purée. 

6. Next, stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper. Ensure that you pick up the flavorful bits at the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and cook until it thickens for 2 minutes.

7. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

More vegan curry recipes:

Vegan butter chicken in a bowl
Vegan butter chicken with basmati rice in a bowl

Vegan Butter Chicken Cauliflower and Tempeh

4.79 from 28 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 507kcal
Print Pin Rate
This simple recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish. It's naturally gluten-free and easy to meal prep. Oil-free option included!

Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, use Metric measurements and measuring spoons.

Ingredients

  • 3.5 oz (100 g) tempeh, cubed
  • 8 (100 g) cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsps (30 ml) oil, (See notes)
  • 1 tsp (5 g) ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves (9 g) garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) garam masala
  • 1 teaspoons (5 g) turmeric
  • ¼ tsp (1 g) ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp (1 g) ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp (5 g) red chilli powder, (might be spicy)
  • 3 small (200 g) tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk, (See Notes)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine garam masala, turmeric and cumin.
    2 teaspoons (10 g) garam masala ,1 teaspoons (5 g) turmeric ,1/4 tsp (1 g) ground cumin
  • Cut tempeh into cubes and add to a bowl.
    3.5 oz (100 g) tempeh
  • Thaw frozen cauliflower and drain properly or rinse fresh, chopped cauliflower. Add to the bowl with tempeh and season with 2 teaspoons of the spice blend.
    8 (100 g) cauliflower florets
  • Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons oil and add tempeh and cauliflower. Cook until brown. Add ginger, garlic, cardamom, chilli and remaining spices. Toast until fragrant then add tomato purée.
    2 tbsps (30 ml) oil ,1 tsp (5 g) ginger ,3 cloves (9 g) garlic ,1/4 tsp (1 g) ground cardamom ,1 tsp (5 g) red chilli powder ,3 small (200 g) tomatoes
  • Next, stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper. Ensure that you pick up the flavourful bits at the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and cook until it thickens for 5 minutes.
    1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk ,Salt and pepper
  • Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

Notes

Tried this recipe? Upload a photo in the comments below!If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving a rating. It really helps the blog.

Nutrition

Calories: 507kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 995mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1501IU | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 7mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




The maximum upload file size: 3 MB. You can upload: image. Drop file here

15 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Deliciously spicy. Definitely will make this again

  2. How do i get the tempeh from
    Tasting bitter?

    1. I’m used to the flavour of tempeh but I’ve seen a few recipes recommending steaming it in half inch slices for 20 minutes before use

  3. 5 stars
    This was soooo good. The only thing is it was a little watery after I added the coconut milk and by the time the sauce thickened there wasn’t much of it left. Any ideas on what I did wrong?

    buttered cauliflower with rice on a decorative plate.

    1. Hi Maya, I’m not certain what went wrong, but it looks great to me! Curries can have either a thin or thick sauce. If you thought it was too thin, you can try coconut cream next time around. Lite coconut milk can also make the sauce more watery. Well done though!

  4. Deborah J Martin says:

    A delicious recipe!

  5. My favourite recipe. I don’t usually leave comments but this made me feel like an accomplished chef!

  6. 5 stars
    I always spend hours making super complicated butter chicken with 1000 ingredients for it to turn out awfully – I didn’t have high expectations for this one as I thought it may be too simple but WOW! Such a pleasant quick weeknight meal, love it.

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious. I did feel a little something was missing after all ingredients were added, so I added 1/2 teaspoon of agave syrup. That gave it just the lift it needed.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback Marg! I’m glad you made it work for you!

  8. Jake Samsonite says:

    You mention anise, and then it’s not in the recipe.

    1. Oops! Thanks for pointing that out. I don’t use it as much anymore as it’s often in gram masala blends in just the right amount. I’ve removed it from the list.