This easy and quick tikka masala pasta is an amazing fusion of Indian cuisine with Italian pasta. It features tons of fragrant Indian spices, creamy coconut milk, fresh garlic and ginger and crushed tomatoes. It is done within 30 minutes and makes for an amazing weeknight dinner recipe. Naturally vegan and dairy-free.
This Indian fusion tikka masala pasta recipe is absolutely amazing and makes for such a simple but tasty twist on how to serve curry sauces.
This easy recipe actually highlights my love for both creamy Italian pasta recipes and aromatic Indian sauces. If you ever wondered if you can eat curry sauce with pasta, the answer is definitely YES! What a perfect combination!
I was inspired by my vegan tofu tikka masala recipe, but made an even simpler version without tofu and served it over noodles for a speedy meal. You can still add some tofu if you are looking for a high-protein meal!
And what a great discovery: pasta + aromatic tikka spices make for such a stunning combination, we simply cannot get enough of it. The creamy tomato sauce is made using coconut milk with canned crushed tomatoes and a few simple and easy-to-find Indian spices.
What really makes the flavor so amazing is the garam masala. The curry sauce also includes curry powder, ground coriander, some cumin and a touch of paprika. The spice flavor isn't overwhelming at all and this dish is not spicy, making it a great meal for kids too. The Indian spices are perfectly balanced with the naturally sweet coconut milk, fresh ginger, garlic and zesty lime juice, such a delight!
As a side note, the coconut milk makes this tikka masala curry sauce so silky, rich and extra flavorful without having to add any heavy cream, but also, it keeps this recipe naturally vegan and dairy-free.
The end result is an Indian style pasta dish that's super fragrant, warm and that features a slightly sweet sauce perfect to generously drench your favorite noodles with.
This recipe also is super simple and quick (made under 30 minutes!), making it such a wonderful weeknight pasta dinner for your whole family, but you can also add more to it, it is so versatile! You can add protein, more vegetables and tweak the spices to make it your own and feel free to use any kind of pasta you like.
I hope you give it a try! ❤️
Why you should try this recipe
- Amazingly flavorful fusion pasta meal
- Quick and simple pasta recipe
- Family-friendly and great for kids
- Versatile recipe
- Healthy recipe, although feels indulgent
- Great for meal-prep
- 100% vegan, vegetarian and easy-to-make gluten-free
Ingredients you will need
- Pasta: use any kind of noodles that you like. I think short pasta is best, such as farfalle, penne, shells, rigatoni, fusilli, etc. But, long noodles would also be great, especially spaghetti.
- Crushed tomatoes: you could use diced tomatoes instead, although you might have to cook the sauce for a little longer to reach the same consistency.
- Coconut milk: full-fat coconut milk will give you a creamier, thicker and more rich consistency, although light coconut milk will work too.
- Onion: I used a sweet onion, which gave the sauce great flavor.
- Fresh garlic: this sauce is amazing with a lot of garlic, so try using 3-4 large cloves.
- Fresh ginger: also great for flavor, do not swap for powdered ginger!
- Spices: I used a mix of curry powder, cumin powder, sweet paprika, coriander powder and garam masala powder. There is a bit of flexibility in what spices you are using, although I would definitely include garam masala into your mix.
- Maple syrup: a tikka masala sauce is meant to be a little sweet. The coconut milk provides some of that sweetness naturally, but a little touch of maple syrup really balances the flavor perfectly.
- Cilantro: if you don't like cilantro, simply omit or swap for parsley for a hint of freshness.
- Lime juice: adds a nice zing to the sauce! Can be swapped for lemon juice.
How to make tikka masala pasta
The idea is to make the tikka pasta sauce while the noodles are boiling, so everything is ready at about the same time.
Cook the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente (follow the package instructions). You can keep some pasta cooking water aside in case you need to loosen up the sauce later on.
Then, drain and set the pasta aside.
Cook the aromatics
Meanwhile, warm up a large pan (I used a non-stick pan) over medium-high heat with a little oil (I used oil spray) and then add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pan.
Cook stirring often until soft and slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Then, add the fresh garlic, fresh ginger and all the spices (curry, cumin, coriander, paprika and garam masala). Stir to coat the onion with the spices and cook for about 1-2 minutes while stirring often. It should become very fragrant.
Simmer the sauce
Add the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk and water. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
Then, lower the heat to medium and keep simmering for about 10 minutes uncovered and stirring once in a while to ensure it does not stick to the bottom.
Blend (or not)
Once the sauce is done simmering, then you can leave it as it is for a textured result or, you can blend the sauce for a smooth result. I like to use an immersion blender and blend right in the pan (tilt to avoid big splashes), but you can also transfer to a stand blender or even a food processor if that's easier.
Combine and serve
Then, add the lime juice and cilantro, stir to combine and taste to adjust the flavor to your preference.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, combine and warm up together for 1-2 minutes. Serve warm with more cilantro and a side of lime wedge, if desired. Enjoy!
- Make sure the pasta is cooked al dente and no more! The noodles will keep cooking in the warm sauce as well.
- You can also keep some pasta cooking water for later in case you need to loosen up the consistency.
- I like using an immersion blender as I find it easier, but this method will retain some texture. For an ultra-smooth sauce, then transfer into a stand blender!
- I like to keep 2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk aside for drizzling on the pasta at serving.
Serve with an extra drizzle of coconut milk, more fresh cilantro and freshly ground black pepper.
This spiced creamy tomato gravy goes great with any kind of pasta. It would also make for a great sauce to serve over gnocchi or vegan tortellini.
Serve with crusty bread or even better, vegan naan bread to scoop up the extra sauce. Also, pair with a light salad to add more lightness to your meal.
You can also boost your meal with more protein by serving this dish with some tofu, tempeh or simply add a can of chickpeas to the sauce. The crusted tofu used in this sandwich recipe would be great to add more texture to the pasta dish.
Variations to the recipe
This recipe is super versatile and you can play around with the ingredients to make it your own.
Feel free to tweak the spice mix depending on what you have in your home. Turmeric powder, smoked paprika, cinnamon and dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) all work great in this recipe.
Also, you can use different types of tomatoes to make this recipe:
- In the summer, you can swap for fresh tomatoes. In that case, I would highly recommend blending the sauce, which will break the skins and make the sauce smoother.
- You can also use diced or whole tomatoes, although you will definitely have to blend to create a smooth texture (using crushed tomatoes makes the blending step optional). Also, those tomatoes are usually a little more watery or juicy, which means that you might have to simmer for longer to help thicken the sauce.
- Tomato sauce or passata (tomato puree) also would work well!
This tikka masala isn’t spicy at all and my kids love this meal. But, this is a great recipe to spice up if you love spicy food. In that case, add some hot cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, Indian red chili powder or even finely diced serrano peppers to the sauce.
You can also add more vegetables to this recipe, especially:
- Green peas
- Leafy greens such as baby spinach
- Bell peppers
Cook them apart if you want to blend the sauce so those veggies don't end up puréed.
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
To reheat, use the microwave or the stove. You might have to add an extra splash of moisture, such as plant milk or simply water, to help loosen up the sauce before reheating.
I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
Tikka means "small piece" and usually refers to a piece of cut meat. In Indian culture, the meat is rubbed with spices and often cooked with yogurt. Tikka masala refers to the same pieces of meat, but that cook in a tomato-based gravy filled with spices this time. In this case, we made a vegan tikka masala, meaning that there is no meat at all, simply the creamy spiced tomato sauce to coat the noodles.
The tikka masala sauce itself is naturally gluten-free. Simply use gluten-free pasta to make the whole recipe 100% GF.
Yes, you can! In that case, I would highly recommend keeping the sauce and cooked pasta apart and combining just before reheating for best results.
More recipes like this
- Vegan creamy sun-dried tomato pasta
- Creamy harissa pasta
- Vegan creamy lemon garlic pasta
- Bucatini pomodoro
- Mushroom aglio olio
- Creamy gochujang pasta
- Coconut milk pasta sauce
- Vegan creamy tomato pasta
- Vegan cajun pasta
I hope you like this tikka masala pasta recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Tikka Masala Pasta
- Blender (or immersion blender) optional
- 12 oz pasta of choice - I used farfalle pasta
- ½ large sweet onion - diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 tsp fresh ginger - grated
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- 15 oz coconut milk - full fat works best
- ½ cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 14 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- ½ lime - juiced
- small handful cilantro - chopped (optional)
- salt and ground black pepper - to taste
- Start by cooking the pasta al dente in boiling water according to packaging instructions. You can keep some pasta cooking water aside in case you want to loosen up the sauce later. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the tikka masala sauce. Warm up a large non-stick pan with a little oil (I used oil spray) and then, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook on medium-high heat stirring often for 5-7 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
- Then, add the garlic, ginger and all the spices (curry, cumin, coriander, paprika and garam masala). Stir to combine and cook for 1 more minute.
- Pour the coconut milk, crushed tomatoes and ½ cup of water into the pan. Stir to combine and then bring to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat while stirring once in a while (uncovered).
- At this point, you can leave the sauce as is or blend if you would like to have a smoother texture. I like to use an immersion blender and blend right into my tilted pan, but if that's easier, you can transfer to a stand blender.
- Add the lime juice and cilantro (if using) and taste to adjust the salt and other flavors to your preference.
- Combine with the cooked pasta and serve warm with more cilantro and lime wedges. Enjoy!
- Storage tips: keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat using the microwave or the stove. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
- You can add more veggies, spices or protein to this recipe, such as broccoli, tofu, spinach, turmeric powder, etc. Check out the blog post for more ideas!