Dhaba style Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe

Cauliflower Tikka Masala is a flavorful and healthy Indian dish that has gained popularity in recent years. This dish is a vegetarian version of the classic chicken tikka masala, which is a popular Indian dish that originated in the United Kingdom. The thick, flavorful, and creamy texture of the gravy, is a perfect accompaniment to Indian bread or flavored rice.

Tikka masala dishes are one of the popular dishes in restaurants and dhabas. But gravy dishes have a lot of heavy cream and oil. So, I needed to recreate another version of this dish at home. Learn to make Dhaba style Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe without cashew and cream, yet the gravy is rich and creamy.

cauliflower tikka masala recipe

What is Dhaba?

Dhabas are roadside restaurants that are commonly found along highways and in rural areas in India. They are known for their affordable pricing, making them a popular option for budget-conscious travelers and locals alike.

Dhabas have a laid-back and informal atmosphere that is perfect for a quick and casual meal. They often have outdoor seating areas, simple decor, and a no-fuss approach to service, which adds to their charm and appeal.

Dhabas typically use fresh ingredients and prepare their dishes ensuring that the food is flavorful.

They often have an open kitchen where you can watch the food being prepared, which adds to the overall experience.

About Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe

The Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe dhaba style is a delicious and healthy vegetarian dish that is easy to make at home. With its blend of fragrant spices, tender roasted cauliflower, and creamy tomato-based sauce, it is sure to become a favorite in your recipe collection.

Dhaba-style curries are popular dishes that originated from the roadside eateries, called “dhabas,” found in Northern India. These curries are known for their bold and rustic flavors, often featuring a blend of aromatic spices and herbs, slow-cooked meats or vegetables, and hearty, thick sauces.

Unlike restaurant-style curries, dhaba-style curries are often cooked over an open fire or charcoal stove, giving them a unique smoky flavor. They are typically served with Indian bread like naan or tandoori roti, and are often accompanied by raita or pickles.

Dhaba-style gravy is known for its rich, flavorful, and luscious texture that can make any dish taste amazing.

The secrets to dhaba-style gravy are slow cooking, caramelized onions and tomatoes, a blend of fresh spices, yogurt, cashews, or cream, and the use of ghee or oil. These elements combine to create a rich, flavorful, and luscious gravy that is perfect for any Indian dish.

The Gobi Tikka Masala recipe has 4 main components –

1. Cauliflower tikka: cauliflower forets are marinated with yogurt and spices and grilled.You can use your oven, air fryer or a even a skillet to roast them.

2. Masala: is the gravy part of the dish where onion, tomato are cooked with spices.

3. Simmer the curry: the roasted cauliflower is added to the masala and cooked for few minutes.

4. Dhungar: also known as dhungar smoking or charcoal smoking, is a traditional Indian cooking technique used to infuse a smoky flavor to food.

The cauliflower is first marinated in a spicy yogurt mixture that is flavored with a variety of aromatic spices. After marinating the cauliflower, it is roasted until tender and slightly charred. The roasted cauliflower is then simmered in a creamy tomato-based sauce, which is also flavored with a variety of aromatic spices.

The sauce/gravy is what really sets Cauliflower Tikka Masala apart from other cauliflower dishes. It is a complex blend of flavors that combines sweet, sour, and spicy elements.

My cauliflower tikka masala is a stovetop recipe and roughly takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. Making cauliflower tikka masala at home can be time-consuming to make, but they are well worth the effort and are sure to impress your family and friends.

How to thicken the gravy without cashews and cream?

Another technique to thicken the tikka masala sauce is to use a roux, which is a mixture of chickpea flour and oil that is cooked together until it forms a paste. The roux is then added to the sauce, and simmered for a few minutes until it thickens.

Roux not only helps to thicken the sauce and but also gives it a smooth and velvety texture.

Reasons to make

Rustic.

Need basic ingredients.

Rich and flavorful dish.

May seem complex but is easy to make.

Perfect for everyday meals.

Smoky flavors.

A great recipe for feeding a crowd or guests.

Tips to help you buy the best cauliflower

1. Look for a cauliflower head that is firm, compact, and heavy for its size. Avoid heads that are soft, spongy, or have dark spots or blemishes.

2. Check the leaves around the cauliflower head. They should be fresh and crisp, not wilted or yellowing.

3. Check the color of the cauliflower head. It should be a creamy white color, without any discoloration or spots.

4. Make sure the cauliflower head is intact, with no loose or missing florets.

Pro Tips

Here are some tips to follow while making cauliflower tikka masala:

1. Use fresh cauliflower: It is important to use fresh cauliflower for this dish, as older cauliflower can have a bitter taste. Choose a head of cauliflower that is firm and free from any dark spots or blemishes.

2. Preheat the pan: Preheat the pan/tawa to a high temperature before roasting the cauliflower. This will ensure that the cauliflower is evenly cooked and caramelized on the outside.

3. Roast the cauliflower: Roast the cauliflower until it is tender and lightly charred on the outside. This will give it a delicious smoky flavor and add texture to the dish.

4. Simmer the sauce: Allow the sauce/gravy to simmer on low heat for at least 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. This will also thicken the sauce and make it more flavorful.

5. Simmer roasted cauliflower florets in the gravy: Once the sauce is ready, add the roasted cauliflower to it and let it simmer for a few more minutes. This will allow the cauliflower to absorb the flavors of the sauce and become even more delicious.

6. Customizable: For those who prefer a milder flavor, the amount of chili powder can be reduced. For those who enjoy a spicier dish, additional chili powder or fresh chilies can be added.

7. Keep the flame low while adding milk: It is important to prevent milk to curdle.

gobi tikka masala

Ingredients

Cauliflower: Chop the cauliflower into big uniform-sized florets to make cauliflower tikkas.

Oil: I have used vegetable oil.

Roux: oil, chickpea flour/besan, turmeric powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder.

Chickpea flour (besan) is a key ingredient in this recipe. It helps to thicken the marinade and make it stick better to the cauliflower florets, resulting in more flavorful cauliflower tikkas. It also thickens the gravy.

Marination: curd, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, tandoori masala, black salt, salt, kasuri methi, garam masala, and chat masala.

Tikka Masala Base gravy: onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, and cumin.

Seasoning & Herbs: Salt and coriander leaves.

Milk: it adds creaminess, richness, and a subtle sweetness to the dish. It also helps to balance out the spices and make the dish milder.

To smoke the curry: a piece of cinnamon stick and some oil or ghee.

How to make Dhaba style Cauliflower Tikka Masala

Step 1: Making the Cauliflower Tikkas

1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a tadka pan or saucepan over medium heat.

2. Once the oil is warm, add the 1.5 tbsp chickpea flour to the saucepan and whisk continuously.

Ensure the oil is warm and not hot, it can burn the flour.

3. Cook the flour and oil mixture for about 2-3 minutes, or until it turns a light golden brown color.

Be sure to stir/whisk continuously to prevent the mixture from burning.

4. Once the mixture starts to forth, turn off the heat and add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder.

The residual heat is enough to cook the spices.

5. Remove the saucepan from heat and let the roux cool for a few minutes before using it.

6. In a bowl, mix together the roux, 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp tandoori masala, 1/2 tsp garam masala powder, 1 tbsp kasuri methi, 1/2 tsp black salt, 1 tsp chat masala, and salt to make a marinade.

7. Add the 250 grams cauliflower florets to the marinade, and mix well to coat everything evenly. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2-8 hours in the refrigerator.

8. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan or a griddle over medium-high heat. Cook the cauliflower tikkas for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are lightly golden and slightly charred around the edges.

Ensure that the oil is hot before placing the marinated gobi pieces.

9. Continue to cook until the cauliflower tikkas are almost cooked.

Step 2: Making the Masala

10. Heat oil in a kadai over medium flame. When hot, add 1/2 tsp cumin and 2 bay leaf. Let the cumin crackle and bay leaf turn aromatic.

11. Add the 1 large onion (finely chopped) and sauté until they turn light brown color.

Stir at regular intervals for even cooking.

12. Add the 1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and saute for another minute or until the raw smell goes away.

13. Add the 2 large tomatoes (pureed). Mix well and let it cook for 5-7 minutes or until the moisture evaporates and the sauce thickens.

14. Add the remaining marination mixture. Saute for 1-2 minutes.

15. Add 1/2 tbsp red chili powder and cook for 30 seconds or until the oil separates.

16. Add 1 cup water and mix well.

17. Cover the kadai with a lid and cook the masala on low flame for 5-10 minutes.

18. Open the lid and you will see oil floating on the top.

Step 3: Simmering the tikkas

19. Next, add the cauliflower tikkas and mix well.

20. Add 1 cup milk and mix well. Taste test and add salt and spice, if needed.

Make sure the heat is low before adding the milk to prevent from curdling.

21. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower tikkas are soft and cooked completely.

Do not overcook the tikkas else they will turn mushy.

22. Open the lid and check if the tikkas are cook completely.

Turn off the flame.

Step 4: Dhungar for smokey flavor.

23. Place a small bowl or katori in the kadai. Heat a piece of cinnamon stick on a gas flame or a grill until it turns red hot.

Use tongs to hold the charcoal.

24. Place the hot cinnamon stick in the katori and pour a teaspoon of ghee or oil on the hot cinnamon stick.

25. Immediately cover the dish with a tight-fitting lid or a sheet of aluminum foil. Let the dish sit undisturbed for 5 minutes to allow the smoke to infuse.

Open the lid carefully. Remove the bowl with the charcoal using tongs and pour the fat (oil or ghee) in the gravy.

26. Lastly, add 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and give a final mix.

27. Cauliflower Tikka Masala is ready.

Serve hot or warm with your choice of flatbread or rice.

Serving Suggestions

Cauliflower tikka masala is a delicious and satisfying vegetarian dish that can be served in many ways. Here are some serving suggestions:

1. With rice: Serve the cauliflower tikka masala over a bed of fluffy white rice or fragrant basmati rice or jeera rice. This is a classic way to serve Indian curries and will help to absorb the flavors of the sauce.

2. With Indian flatbreads: Serve the curry with naan, rumali roti, tandoori roti, chapati, or other Indian breads. These breads are perfect for scooping up the sauce and are great for soaking up all the delicious flavors.

3. With a side of raita: Raita is a cooling yogurt-based side dish that is perfect for serving alongside spicy Indian curries. Mix plain yogurt with diced cucumber, mint, and cilantro for a refreshing and flavorful side.

4. With a salad: Add a fresh salad on the side to balance out the rich and flavorful cauliflower tikka masala. A simple cucumber and tomato salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt is a great option.

cauliflower tikka masala

Storage Suggestions

If you have leftovers, it’s important to store them properly to maintain the freshness and flavor. Let the curry cool down to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator and consume it within 2-3 days.

Before serving, reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop. The gravy will thickens as it cools, so add water while reheating.

Variations

Here are some variations of cauliflower tikka masala

1. Paneer and cauliflower tikka masala: This variation adds chunks of paneer to the marination. Saute the paneer cubes along with cauliflower, before adding to the onion-tomato-based sauce.

2. Veg tikka masala: You can use vegetables like capsicum, onion, baby corn, mushroom, carrot, green peas, potato, or broccoli to make Veg Tikka Masala.

If you’ve tried this Dhaba style Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.

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Recipe Card

Dhaba style Cauliflower Tikka Masala Recipe

Author: Santosh Allada
Learn to make Dhaba style Cauliflower Tikka Masala, cauliflower florets are first marinated and sauteed in oil until they are slightly golden brown. They are then added to a thick and spicy onion-tomato-based gravy, along with a blend of various spices.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Curry, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For Roux

  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1.5 tbsp Chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder

For the Marination

  • 250 grams Cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup Curd (fresh)
  • 1/2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp Tandoori masala
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
  • 1 tbsp Dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 1/2 tsp Black salt
  • 1 tsp Chat masala
  • Salt to taste

For Base gravy

  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 2 numbers Bay leaf
  • 1 large Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 2 large Tomatoes (grind to smooth puree)
  • 1/2 tbsp Red chili powder
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 tbsp Coriander leaves

Dhungar

  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Ghee

Instructions
 

Make the Cauliflower Tikkas

  • Heat oil in a tadka pan or saucepan over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is warm, add the chickpea flour to the saucepan and whisk continuously.
  • Cook the flour and oil mixture for about 2-3 minutes, or until it turns a light golden brown color.
  • Once the mixture starts to forth, turn off the heat and add turmeric powder and kashmiri red chili powder.
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and let the roux cool for a few minutes before using it.
  • In a bowl, mix together the roux, yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, tandoori masala, garam masala powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, kasuri methi, black salt, chat masala, and salt to make a marinade.
  • Add the cauliflower florets to the marinade, and mix well to coat everything evenly. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2-8 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Heat a pan or a griddle over medium-high heat. Cook the cauliflower tikkas for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are lightly golden and slightly charred around the edges.
  • Continue to cook until the cauliflower tikkas are almost cooked.

Make the Masala

  • Heat oil in a kadai over medium flame. When hot add cumin and bay leaf. Let the cumin crackle and bay leaf turn aromatic.
  • Add the chopped onions and sauté until they turn light brown color.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for another minute or until the raw smell goes away.
  • Add the pureed tomatoes. Mix well and let it cook for 5-7 minutes or until the moisture evaporates and the sauce thickens.
  • Add the remaining marination mixture. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the red chili powder and cook for 30 seconds or until the oil separates.
  • Add water and mix well.
  • Cover the kadai with a lid and cook the masala on low flame for 5-10 minutes.
  • Open the lid and you will see oil floating on the top.
  • Next, add the cauliflower tikkas and mix well.
  • Add milk and mix well. Taste test and add salt and spice, if needed.
  • Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower tikkas are soft and cooked completely.
  • Open the lid and check if the tikkas are cooked completely.

Dhungar for smokey flavor

  • Place a small small bowl or katori in the kadai. Heat a piece of cinnamon stick on a gas flame or a grill until it turns red hot.
  • Place the hot cinnamon stick in the katori and pour a teaspoon of ghee or oil on the hot cinnamon stick.
  • Immediately cover the dish with a tight-fitting lid or a sheet of aluminum foil. Let the dish sit undisturbed for 5 minutes to allow the smoke to infuse.
  • Open the lid carefully. Remove the bowl with the charcoal using tongs and pour the fat (oil or ghee) in the gravy.
  • Lastly, add chopped coriander leaves and give a final mix.
  • Cauliflower Tikka Masala is ready. Serve hot or warm with your choice of flatbread or rice.

Notes

Instructions to make cauliflower tikkas in the oven: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease the baking sheet with a teaspoon of oil. Arrange the gobi tikka on the greased tray. Bake for 20 –25 minutes or till they turn brown and crisp. Turn halfway through cooking time.


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