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Butter Chickpeas (Vegetarian Butter chicken)

Butter Chickpeas is a vegetarian version of the classic Butter Chicken. An easy, loaded with flavor, butter chickpea curry will rival any butter chicken that you have ever tasted!!! A must try recipe!

If you love Indian curries like us, then you might also love Chickpea and Spinach Curry, Beet Curry, Coconut curry shrimp or Kale Daal Curry.

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white and black bowls filled with butter chickpeas, white rice and naan, garnished with cilantro and a hand trying to take a bite from one of teh black bowls.

Butter Chickpeas

In simpler terms, it is butter chicken made with chickpeas instead of chicken. Clever, right? (A humble brag😊). It tastes exactly like butter chicken but made vegetarian. You need to taste to believe.

This is one of those recipes that you actually can make on a whim. There is no defrosting meat or chicken. There is no running to the grocery store for fresh veggies. All you just have to do is grab some cans from the pantry, add a few other staple ingredients and you have an actually delicious dinner in under an hour.

Remember the butter chicken pasta or this Shrimp with Indian Butter Sauce that I shared few days ago? We have come up with another creative twist to the all time favorite butter chicken.

Canned chickpeas are one of our all time favorite pantry staple when looking quick weeknight dinner ideas. It is readily stocked in the pantry, ready to go in matter of seconds, healthy, packed with protein and incredibly versatile.

Is this Chana Masala?

Chana masala, also called chole masala, is originated in northern India. “Chana” means chickpea and “masala” refers to a blend of spices used in Indian cooking. It’s a popular dish throughout India and Pakistan, with recipes varying by region/household.

It is generally made with less tomatoes, no cream and more spices. So it is not creamy and traditionally more liquidy and more concentrated with spices, when compared to this vegetarian butter chicken.

What makes this so good?

It is packed with flavor. It’s creamy, tomatoey, heavily spiced, rich and velvety and satisfying. It will fill you up on the first serving, but you’ll go back for seconds anyways because it is that good.  The cooking process itself is simple and the flavors are out of this world. You’ll definitely put this in your dinner rotation more often than you might expect.

  1. Restaurant quality right at home that too so quick and easy when compared to a traditional butter chicken.
  2. Make it year round – There is no waiting for fresh summer tomatoes, to make this tomato based curry. This recipe uses canned tomato sauce, making it ready to go when a craving strikes.
  3. Made with mostly pantry ingredients like canned garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, cashew nuts, honey and other spices.
  4. Make it healthier – The only sinful ingredient in this recipe is the heavy cream. Simply replace it with canned coconut milk for a healthier Indian chickpea curry.

Pro Tips for success

Color : Traditional butter chicken always has an iconic deep orange color that is achieved by adding orange food color. However, the food color can be absolutely skipped and it will not affect the flavor in any way.

Cashew powder – Grind raw cashews into a fine powder using any dry spice grinder or coffee grinder. Stop the grinder every few seconds and give a good shake and continue grinding. This step is important, since cashew powder will start clumping up due to the high fat content.

Cayenne – Cayenne is Indian chili powder.

Spicy – If you like it spicier, then increase cayenne pepper.

Tomato Sauce – Tomato sauce is found in cans in the canned tomato section of your grocery store. DO NOT USE jarred MARINARA SAUCE / PASTA SAUCE / PIZZA SAUCE instead.

Kasoori methi – Kasoori methi is dried fenugreek leaves and is one the essential ingredient in an authentic butter chicken recipe. However, it can be skipped if you don’t have it stocked.

Salt – Salt depends on the type of tomato sauce used and your taste preference. Use accordingly.

Key ingredients:

Butter – Ain’t butter chickpeas without butter! You can use salted or unsalted butter, but make sure that you adjust salt accordingly.

Tomato – Tomato puree is one of the key ingredients in the recipe. Traditional butter chicken recipes call for blanched and pureed tomatoes, however this recipe uses canned tomato sauce for convenience.

Spices – Cumin seeds, kasoori methi, cayenne, coriander, turmeric and garam masala powders

Cashews – Powdered cashews not only adds creaminess but helps to thicken the sauce.

Chickpeas – I have used canned chickpeas, but you love to cook your own then use 3 cups of cooked chickpeas instead.

Heavy cream – It makes the sauce silky smooth, creamy and luxurious. Do not replace with milk.

Honey – It adds sweetness and makes the dish finger licking good

Food color – Orange food color

a black bowl filled with butter chickpeas curry and white rice with a spoon. Another white bowl with the same chickpeas and naan instead

How to make?

(with step by step photos)

Heat a pan with butter and toast cumin seeds. Add chopped onion, garlic and ginger and saute until golden brown. Add all spices and cook (stirring continuously) for about couple of minutes, to toast the spices.

Stir in tomato sauce, water, cashew powder and cooked chickpeas, cover and cook in low flame for about 10 minutes (making sure to stir every few minutes to avoid burning). Uncover, stir in heavy cream, honey and food color. Simmer for about 2 minutes and take off heat.

How to serve?

This curry is absolutely delicious with hot buttery naan to scoop up all the luscious sauce. It is also great with homemade parathas, rotis, phulkas, white rice or even crusty bread.

How to store?

Leftover butter chickpeas curry can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat in microwave, until hot.

Can you freeze extras?

Sure! Freeze extra curry in an airtight container for 2-3 months. Pro Tip – Store in single servings so that you can thaw one-person lunch or dinner in the fridge throughout the week/month!

a orange enamel cast iron skillet placed on a blue napkin is filled with butter chickpeas recipe and garnished with cilantro

More creative Indian recipes: Chai Mug Cake, Almond Kulfi, Spicy Chicken Tacos, Mango Mug Cake, Chocolate Kulfi, Kulfi Ice Cream Cake, Spicy Pita Chips, Indian Roasted Chickpeas, Mango Lassi Crepes, Rasmalai Tres Leches Cake, Baked Mangoes or Indian Spinach Soup.

bowls of creamy Indian chickpeas curry with white rice and naan, a small bowl with fresh cilantro and a tiny bowl of red pepper flakes

More Chickpea recipes to try:

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Butter Chickpeas

Butter Chickpeas

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes

Butter Chickpeas is a vegetarian version of the classic Butter Chicken. An easy, loaded with flavor butter chickpea curry will rival any butter chicken that you have ever tasted!!! A must try recipe. 

Ingredients

Group-1

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped onion ( about 1 large)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons crushed ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided (or to taste)

Group-2

Group-3

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 to 2 pinches orange food color (optional)

Instructions

    1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add butter and let melt.

    2. Add cumin seeds and let it toast for about 10 seconds and then stir in chopped onion, crushed garlic, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions get golden brown color (4-5 minutes).

    3. Add kasoori methi, coriander powder, cayenne and garam masala powder. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until spices are toasted well (don't let it burn).

    4. Add tomato sauce, cashew powder and chickpeas, stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes (stirring every 3-4 minutes to make sure that it does not burn in the bottom).

    5. Uncover, stir in heavy cream, honey, orange food color and remaining salt. Let simmer for about 2 minutes.

    6. Remove from heat and let curry rest for few minutes before serving.

    Delicious served with naan and/or rice

Notes

Tomato Sauce - Tomato sauce is found in cans in the canned tomato section of your grocery store. DO NOT USE jarred MARINARA SAUCE / PASTA SAUCE / PIZZA SAUCE instead.

Kasoori methi - Kasoori methi is dried fenugreek leaves and is one the essential ingredient in an authentic butter chicken recipe. However, it can be skipped if you don't have it stocked.

Color : Traditional butter chicken is always in a iconic deep orange color that is achieved by adding orange food color. However, the food color can be absolutely skipped and it will not affect the flavor in any way.

Cashew powder – Grind raw cashews into a fine powder using any dry spice grinder or coffee grinder. Stop the grinder every few seconds and give a good shake con continue grinding. This step is important, since the cashew powder will start clumping up due to the high fat content.

Cayenne – Cayenne is Indian chili powder.

Spicy – If you like it spicier, then increase cayenne pepper.

Salt - Salt depends on the type of tomato sauce used and your taste preference. Use accordingly.

Chickpeas - Instead of canned chickpeas, use 3 cups of cooked chickpeas

Did you make this recipe?

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L

Friday 1st of April 2022

Very good recipe. My husband was very happy with it. We are not vegetarians but love Indian food. We have made it twice within one week or so. I would have made even more if it was up to my husband. Thanks!!! We will definitely make this again. :)

Dur-e-shehwar

Friday 25th of March 2022

A delicious treat for vegetarians. Delicious Recipes

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