Curry sauces are incredibly versatile in plant-based home cooking. You can use them in a bowl with grains and vegetables, on baked potatoes, and with burgers or patties, or even pasta. Tikka masala is a creamy tomato sauce often made with heavy cream or yogurt. Here I use cashews and blend them with water for a smooth vegan cream that thickens once it’s stirred into the wonderfully spiced tomato base. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you like. I often serve vegetables with this sauce on top of brown rice.

By Linda Tyler,

  • 8


  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup red, yellow, or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or Kashmiri chili powder (or more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted or plain diced tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup loosely packed cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 5 cups steamed or cooked vegetables (red bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, kale, etc.)
  • 5 cups cooked brown basmati or long-grain rice


  • Soak the cashews in water for 2 hours or pour boiling water over them, cover, let them soak for about 20 minutes, then drain them. Put the cashews in a blender with ¾ cup water. Blend on high for 30 seconds or longer, until the cashews are dissolved. Set aside cashew milk for later.
  • Water sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in a large saucepan or skillet until the onion is tender and transparent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add in the next nine ingredients (through cardamom) and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes, increase the heat, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer with the lid ajar, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, adding a little water if it gets too dry.
  • Add the cashew milk and cilantro to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often, until thick. Add water, if needed, and adjust seasonings after tasting. Blend the sauce until smooth, if desired. I prefer to let it cool a bit and then blend it in my high- speed blender so that it is very smooth.
  • Prepare the steamed or cooked vegetables to your liking, and stir them together with the warm curry sauce and serve with brown rice. The sauce keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. The sauce freezes well.

Comments (7)

(5 from 3 votes)

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Just made a double batch of delicious Tikka Masala sauce. I too would give it 10 stars if possible. Followed it to a T except the fresh ginger I used Tsp’s instead of tsp’s (lol short sighted) however I’ll stick to that in the future as it’s just perfect to me. Thank you for the wonderful healthy recipe. I haven’t blended it tho I like the texture as is. Ticks all the boxes in my opinion


I am allergic to cashews - would white beans work here as a substitute ? I would like to make this dish.

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Olwyn, While we haven't tested this, we think blended white beans could work well. Another substitution for the cashew cream is to use the same volume of unsweetened plant milk, or low fat coconut milk. Hope that helps. Let us know how it turns out if you decide to try it!


So I'm already confused. The AIP diet eliminated nightshades, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, because they are inflammatory. This recipe has both. I react to all nightshades.


I agree with you Cyndi. I would appreciate guidance on foods to avoid. I wish the author would respond.

Alma Gould

I had a craving for India food. I just made this. If I could rate it a 10 I would. The ingredients in the recipe were perfect. The cashew milk over the sauce was amazing. This Vegetable Tikka Masala tasted better than the India restaurant. Thank you Linda Tyler for sharing this awesome tasting anti-inflammatory recipe!

RC Enstrom

Healthy and delicious! Will add this to our regular rotation and share with our plant-based circles. Thank you! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Headshot of Linda Tyler

About the Author

Linda Tyler

Linda Tyler is a plant-based cooking instructor, recipe developer, and writer. She teaches cooking classes for Portland and Mt. Hood Community Colleges in Oregon and offers one-on-one plant-based lifestyle coaching. She has published recipes in vegan magazines and websites, articles on animal welfare issues, and is a frequent guest on Chef AJ Live on YouTube. She is the author of The Plant-Based Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook. She is on the video review team for For more information, see
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