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Tikka Masala with Garbanzo Beans, White Rice + Spinach

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
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Why we love it:

Is tikka masala as we know it an Indian dish or … British? The origins of it are hotly debated and I won’t weigh in here. I can say, it’s delicious and well loved. This vegetarian weeknight version is simple and will become a family favorite. It holds up in the fridge for days, even improves overnight or longer, and it freezes beautifully.


  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger (about 1", grated)
  • 12 Onion (large onion, finely chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (divided)
  • 112 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 12 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • 1 28-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • 1 pinch White Sugar (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 2 15-ounce cans Garbanzo Beans (1 drained, 1 with liquid)
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice (White)
  • 114 cups Water
  • 1 pound Baby Spinach (washed)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream

Cooking Instructions

  • 1. SAUCE

    Finely mince 2 cloves of garlic and a 1” section of ginger. Dice half of an onion in small squares.

    In a large pot with tall sides, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the diced onion, and the minced garlic and ginger. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 6 - 8 minutes. Add garam masala, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne pepper (if using). Cook the spice blend on the bottom of the pan for 30 seconds or so. Add the can of tomatoes and the sugar and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover partially and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, at least 10 minutes and up to 30 turning it down to low if you cook it longer.


    Open both cans of garbanzo beans. Drain 1 can and add it to the sauce. Add the other can with the aquafaba (aka the garbanzo bean liquid - it helps thicken the sauce and give it body.)

  • 3. RICE

    Combine rice and 1 1/4 cups of water in a small pot with a tight fitting lid, add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then stir once. Turn heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 17 minutes then turn off the heat and leave it covered until you’re ready to serve dinner.

  • 4. SPINACH

    In a large saute pan, heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the clean spinach and cook for about 1 minute, moving around with tongs.

    *If you have full size spinach, chop it into 1” pieces first.
    **If it doesn’t fit in the pan in one batch, add part of it and when it starts to wilt, add more and keep cooking.

    Add a pinch of salt and cook until it’s all mostly soft and wilted. I recommend removing it from the hot pan when there are still some sections that aren’t fully cooked, it will keep wilting as it sits and this keeps it from turning brown.


    Add the cream to the sauce slowly while stirring.

    Cook sauce with beans and cream for a final 5 minutes over low heat.

  • 6. SERVING

    Serve a scoop of rice, topped with garbanzo beans and sauce, spinach on the side.

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    simply omit the heavy cream. You can swirl in some almond based yogurt or a can of coconut milk if you’d like it lighter and creamier.
    this sauce over fish….mmmmmmm. Try either roasting a filet of salmon or halibut and serving the sauce spooned over. Or turn it into a stew and add chunks of a variety of seafood like shrimp, snapper, mussels, scallops
    add roasted chopped vegetables instead of beans. Eggplant, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and or cauliflower are amazing options! Another idea is to add cubes of seared firm tofu or cubes of seared paneer or other firm cheese to the sauce
    you can find this spice blend in most grocery stores near urban areas. Make your own blend - 1 Tablespoon each: ground cumin, coriander and chili powder. Plus 1 tsp each: black pepper, turmeric, ground cardamom
    the white rice cooks quickly to keep this meal fast, if you prefer brown rice it will just take longer to cook. To sub rice entirely, try quinoa which is a whole grain protein and quick cooking
    ½ teaspoon ground ginger is just fine
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