November 3, 2023

Creamy Chickpea Tomato Curry

This creamy chickpea tomato curry by Ellie Yamanaka is creamy, comforting, and so satisfying! Inspired by Indian butter chicken, this plant-based version uses chickpeas as the star ingredient, with a cream sauce made from cashews and tofu for extra protein. We also like to throw in some chopped spinach at the end for extra nutrients!

Chickpea Curry Ingredient Tips + Substitutions

  • Chickpeas can be swapped for another legume or plant-based protein, like white beans, red lentils, baked or fried tofu, or tempeh. 
  • For a nut-free version, try raw sunflower seeds, coconut cream, or Plant-Based Whole30 compatible yogurt instead of cashews.
  • Nutritional yeast will add a little extra umami and protein, but you can omit it if necessary without impacting the flavor of the curry too much. 
  • You can replace the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, and black pepper with 3.5 teaspoons of curry powder. You can use regular paprika if you don’t have smoked paprika, but of course, you will lose that smoky flavor.
  • For the tomatoes, even though we will be crushing them during cooking, we highly recommend using canned whole tomatoes. Whole tomatoes generally have better flavor than the diced or crushed variety. Canned diced tomatoes don’t break down easily due to the addition of calcium chloride, but for this curry, we want a thick, slightly chunky texture.
  • Spinach can be omitted or replaced with another leafy green, like chopped kale.

Meal Prep

Curries are great for meal prep since the flavors develop more as the curry sits in the fridge (the ingredients are essentially marinating in the spices). Left to chill overnight, starches in the vegetables and chickpeas have time to soak up excess liquid, making the curry even thicker and tastier. Day-old curry is one of my favorite leftover dishes!


Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze the curry for up to two months. Let the curry cool uncovered for a bit first, or it can accumulate excess moisture, which will dilute the curry.

Plant-Based Whole30 Creamy Chickpea Curry

Creamy Chickpea Tomato Curry

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


Cream Sauce

  • 150 grams silken firm tofu
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp soy milk if needed to thin


  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 400 grams canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup water minced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 4 cups spinach chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped


  • ADD all cream sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • MIX spices together in a small bowl.
  • HEAT olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and onions start to brown.
  • ADD garlic and ginger and stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • ADD spices and stir constantly for another minute.
  • STIR in tomatoes and water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • CRUSH tomatoes with the back of a large mixing spoon.
  • STIR in chickpeas. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.
  • STIR in cream sauce and spinach. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add more water if the curry is too thick.
  • REMOVE bay leaf and turn off heat.
  • SPRINKLE with cilantro and serve as is or over cauliflower rice.
Ellie Yamanaka from ellielikescooking wearing a white top and smiling at the camera.

Ellie Yamanaka

Ellie Yamanaka is a food photographer and recipe developer who loves making simple, feel-good plant-based recipes that don't compromise on taste or nutrition. She's been making messes in the kitchen since she was 12, and after finishing university 10 years later, she decided to trade in her nutrition degree for a camera and a kitchen. Through her food blog Ellie Likes Cooking, she hopes to inspire others to eat more plants and get creative in the kitchen.