Slow Cooker Chickpea Tikka Masala with Cauliflower

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Slow Cooker Chickpea Tikka Masala makes the best vegetarian meal without all the work of a traditional masala dish.

273 CAL 40g CARBS 8g FAT 11g PROTEIN 2
1 Comment

Crockpot Chickpea Tikka Masala takes just like your favorite Indian takeout but is made at home in the slow cooker for a healthy, satisfying meal. After sharing this Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala last week, there were lots of requests for a vegetarian option, and this one will hit the spot.

Tikka Masala is probably one of the most well-known Indian dishes out there and for good reason: It is seriously delicious. The only problem is that usually it is made with heavy cream and therefore packed with loads of calories and unhealthy fat.

Luckily it's easy to lighten up this dish by making one simple switch and using coconut milk instead of the heavy cream. Not only does this make the dish healthier since the fats in the coconut milk are much better for you, it also lowers the calorie count. And, most importantly, I think it makes the dish even better. The subtle flavor of the coconut is delicious and a great addition to this classic dish.

Crockpot Chickpea Tikka Masala with cauliflower in a spiced tomato sauce with cilantro.

What are chickpeas made of?

Chickpeas are made of...chickpeas. That is to say, they are a legume and not machine-made or something that's rolled up in your kitchen. They belong to the plant family called Fabaceae and is grown specifically for its seeds, which are the chickpeas themselves.

What's the difference between chickpeas and garbanzo beans?

The difference between a chickpea and a garbanzo bean is absolutely nothing. Same legume, two different names. You can use both names interchangeably though I feel like growing up more people called them garbanzo beans and now they are mostly referred to as chickpeas but that could be just my experience.

What is the difference between tikka masala and chana masala?

"Masala" is simply a word for spice in the Hindi language and in this recipe refers to the use of the masala spice, particularly garam masala. "Chana" refers to the chickpeas.

"Tikka" is a Hindi word for "piece" as in pieces of meat like you'd also find in this recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala. Although tikka is also made with spices, it has bigger chunks of meat (or veggies/sweet potatoes, etc.) in it.

For this recipe, I used both the tikka (cauliflower) and the chana (chickpeas) with the masala spices to create one delicious dish.

Recipe Tips and Ideas

Like with most of my recipes, you should feel free to customize this Slow Cooker Chickpea Tikka Masala with Cauliflower with any ingredients you have on hand or in your fridge that you think would suit your tastes.

  • Vegetables. You can add to the cauliflower or swap it out entirely for other vegetables and starches. Some different vegetables you might want to try include kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, diced tomatoes, or bell peppers.
  • Protein. If you want to add in some more or a different protein, consider adding in chicken (you can add rotisserie chicken pieces during the last hour of cooking if you like) or ground chicken, turkey, or tofu.
  • Seasonings. Although I recommend still using the garam masala, you can also add to this dish more or less of the spice if you prefer. Another option is to add in extra cumin, garlic, ginger, or paprika if you like it a little smoky/spicy or add in red pepper flakes or sliced jalapenos or another pepper if you like it really hot. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, green onions, or parsley can also make your dish stand out and taste fresh.
  • Swap the chickpeas. If you don't have chickpeas you can use another white bean such as navy, pinto, or great northern. Keep in mind these legumes tend to break down more quickly than chickpeas so you'll have more of a stewy soup (or a "stoup" as I remember Rachel Ray calling those types of dishes).

Chickpea Masala with cauliflower in a rich tomato sauce that

Serving Ideas

I like to serve this dish over white or brown rice. But you could also serve it over cauliflower rice for extra veggies and to keep the dish low-carb.

You could also serve this dish with a side of naan or another flatbread (like pita or Flatout low-carb wraps) that can be used for scooping up the delicious bites of chickpea and cauliflower smothered in masala sauce.

This dish would also work well served over wide egg noodles, a high-fiber pasta, or even a pasta made from veggies like those I've seen made from chickpeas or lentils.

Serve this dish in a bowl all by itself! You don't have to have it "over" anything as it's delicious, nutritious, and filling as a dish without any accompaniment.

Looking for more healthy Indian recipes?

This recipe was originally shared over six years ago and has been updated with new photos and tips.

The Recipe
Slow cooker chickpea masala with cauliflower in tomato sauce with Indian spices and cilantro.

Slow Cooker Chickpea Tikka Masala with Cauliflower

273 CAL 40g CARBS 8g FAT 11g PROTEIN 2
COOK TIME: 4 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 10 Min
1 Comment
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  • 3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. garam masala (to taste, blends vary in flavor/intensity)
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
  • 28 oz. canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk

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Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes until beginning to brown. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, garam masala, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes until very fragrant.


Add to the slow cooker along with the chickpeas and diced tomatoes. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Thirty minutes before it's done, add the cauliflower and coconut milk. Let finish cooking with the lid open to reduce the sauce.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.25 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 273
Calories from Fat 71
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1511mg
Total Carbohydrate 40g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 6g
Protein 11g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Slow Cooker Chickpea Tikka Masala with Cauliflower
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Megan Eaton
December 11, 2016 - 17:09
Add a Rating:
This was fabulous! I substituted broccoli for the cauliflower. Excellent flavor and each serving was huge! Definitely a repeat!
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