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Vegan “Butter” Chickpeas

Spiced vegan "butter" chickpeas is a totally whole food-based take on butter chicken. Simple and quick to prepare. Rich, creamy, and perfectly spiced.
Cuisine Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword cardamom, cashews, chickpeas, cilantro, cinnamon, coconut oil, coriander, cumin, curry, lemon, nutmeg, smoked paprika, tomatoes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 -6



  • cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • cup filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (mine weighed 550 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons unscented coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, fine dice (about 1 ½ cups diced onion)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (from approximately 2 15-oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • chopped cilantro, for serving


  • 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.


  • Yes, 3 tablespoons of coconut oil is a lot! We’re trying to replicate the mega creamy texture of a typical butter chicken recipe, so we need to go ALL in. Feel free to reduce the oil if you need to.
  • I used unscented coconut oil because I find it to be the most “buttery” of all plant-based oils. If you don’t mind a strong coconut flavour (it would taste great!), you could certainly use virgin coconut oil.
  • Maybe the maple syrup seems like a “HUH?” ingredient, but we add it to the cashew cream to evoke that natural sweetness of real dairy cream. Again, it would be fine to leave out if added sugar is a concern.
  • If you’re using canned crushed tomatoes, you will need exactly 2 cups (16 ounces) for this recipe.