In an upright, high speed blender, combine the drained cashews, water, and maple syrup. Blend on high until you have a heavy cream-like consistency, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Set a saucepan full of water over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling, cut an “X” into the bottom of the tomatoes and gently place them into the water. Once the skin starts peeling, remove the tomatoes from the water and set aside to cool. Once cool, cut the tomatoes in half and remove the core. Then, place the tomato halves in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands. You can leave this pretty rustic as you’ll be blending the sauce later on. Set aside.
Place a large, deep skillet (or braiser) over medium heat. Add the coconut oil to the skillet and swirl it around. Add the onions to the skillet and saute until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the skillet, and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Season liberally with salt and pepper and stir. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Then, add the cashew cream and stir.
Carefully transfer the sauce to an upright, high speed blender. Carefully blend the mixture on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Return the pureed sauce to the skillet on the stove. Add the chickpeas and stir. Bring the vegan “butter” chickpeas to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened and clinging to the chickpeas.
Stir in the lemon juice and check the dish for seasoning. Adjust salt/pepper/spice/acidity if necessary. Top the vegan “butter” chickpeas with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with rice or flatbread of choice.