Vegan Indian “Butter” Cauliflower with Coconut Brown Rice

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on


I’ve been holding onto this one for almost a week now, but you have to trust me, this is goooood!  I’m pretty sure this kind of sauce is only supposed to be on chicken… You know “butter chicken” right?  But I’ve been seeing so many awesome uses for cauliflower lately and I already love cauliflower as mock mashed potatoes(but don’t take my real mashed potatoes away either!).  I haven’t tried, but love the idea of roasted buffalo cauliflower, but I wasn’t in the mood for that at this particular moment.  Somehow all that translated into butter cauliflower in my head.  And let me tell you, it is amazing!


Let me just start by saying this doesn’t taste vegan.  It’s still buttery and rich and thick and creamy and just plain lovely.  If you like butter chicken and want a lighter alternative you need to try this.


I served this with some brown coconut rice as well so I included the rice recipe.  I have to say though, the first time I ever had coconut rice was when I stayed with my Filipino best friend and her mother made some amazing food.  I seriously wish I could remember all the awesome different foods I got to try.  I’m kind of sad to admit that this coconut rice isn’t quite as good as the rice I had then.  Although, it was so long ago that I can’t remember if the rice was that incredible or if it was just a great memory of the time I spent visiting 🙂


But anyways, the rice is delicious.  I actually made the rice the day before and ate a bowl of it just by itself when it was ready.  Yum!  And the options are endless, you could serve this with so many dishes, it doesn’t have to be reserved just for currys.  I feel like I must warn you I go through food phases and I think I feel a curry phase coming up.  I can’t get enough of it 🙂


Look at that color!  The tomato base for the sauce + those awesomely colorful spices = beautiful!  I love it!





Coconut Brown Rice
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
55 mins
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Author: Heidi @ Food Doodles
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 C long grain brown rice jasmine rice is preferable but any kind works
  • 3 tbsp flaked coconut
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk or just over 1 1/2 C
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1 tsp honey or alternative
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. In a medium saucepan heat the coconut oil.
  2. Add the brown rice and stir while cooking over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until the rice begins to toast. Add the flaked coconut.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk, water, honey and salt. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and turn down to a simmer. Simmer rice for 50 minutes then turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 5 minutes before serving.





Vegan "Butter" Cauliflower
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Heidi @ Food Doodles
  • For the cauliflower:
  • 3-4 C cauliflower 1 small head
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp tandoori seasoning
  • juice of half a lemon about 2 tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp saltFor the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 quart or a 32 oz can jar tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt + more to taste
  1. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium low heat. When hot add the onion and saute until completely softened and some pieces are starting to caramelize and turn dark, 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon and stir again. Pour in the tomatoes and stir well. Bring up to a boil and then turn down and simmer while preparing the cauliflower.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. To prepare the cauliflower chop into bite sized pieces and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with tandoori seasoning, fresh lemon juice and salt. Toss well to combine. When the oven is hot, place cauliflower in the oven and roast until the edges of the cauliflower are beginning to caramelize and turn dark but the cauliflower is still firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, stir the sauce occasionally until it thickens, about 20 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of sugar, 1/4 tsp of salt and the can of full fat coconut milk(*see note). Stir well.
  5. Once the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and stir into the sauce. Stir well and serve hot over rice.
Recipe Notes
*if you prefer a thicker sauce, do not shake your can of coconut milk before opening, Open the can, and spoon the thicker coconut "cream" off the top reserving the thin clear liquid at the bottom for another purpose.







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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kristin April 11, 2013 at

This looks so great! Looking forward to making this one! And I look forward to more curry inspired dishes! I gave this post some love on fb, even before making it! ; )


2 Crystal April 11, 2013 at

Ooohhh man! What an amazing idea this is! I love butter chicken and I think cauliflower is a great stand in with those flavors. I am dying to try this. Thanks for sharing! : )
Crystal recently posted..Cumin-Scented Basmati Rice Pilaf


3 Julie April 12, 2013 at

Oh. Em. Gee. This looks and sounds amazing! I often make curries and serve them over plain old brown rice (which I loooove, even plain), but coconut rice??? Wow.
Julie recently posted..Pasta with lemony parsnip pesto (vegan/gf)


4 Heather April 12, 2013 at

Oh man I can’t believe you have been holding out on us- this looks incredible, I am a sucker for anything Indian inspired!
Heather recently kitchen series: homemade vanilla extract


5 Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies April 13, 2013 at

I pinned this before I even scrolled down to the recipe because I immediately knew from the name and the photo that I would love it. And I do! 😀 I’m going to have to make this one soon!
Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies recently posted..What I Ate This Week | Raw Food & Juice Cleanse (Part One!)


6 Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} April 13, 2013 at

Oh my. Butter Chicken was my favorite Indian dish in my pre-vegan days. I am so happy that you have created a vegan version. I can’t wait to make it!
Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} recently posted..Saturday Morning Fitness Motivation


7 everydayathena April 13, 2013 at

Sounds great…but it’s not vegan when you use honey.


8 Kim April 14, 2013 at

Sounds yummy. Will take some work, though. BTW, what is the fat content per serving?


9 Kattis October 5, 2013 at

Just so you know cocnut oil is incredible for you !! Honestly read the coconut oil miracle … = D or google info about it. Have no fear of coconut oil.


10 Toni March 24, 2014 at

I don’t do coconut oil or full fat coconut milk, because I don’t believe either is good for you and is full of cholesterol and fat. But there is an easy and delicious substitution. I use a non-dairy milk and a splash of coconut extract. (I usually use unsweetened almond milk.) You still have all of the delicious flavor.


11 Jerry April 15, 2013 at

Oh Wow. Never thought of making coconut Brown rice.. And I’m sure you’ve heard this before but your photos are scrumptious. Can’t wait to eat some awesome Indian food! Thanks for sharing.
Jerry recently posted..Pure Green Coffee Bean Extract Reviews


12 Richa April 22, 2013 at

Woza. This sounds like a perfect anyday meal.. love the color of the sauce. 🙂
Richa recently posted..Broccoli Dal. Mung Bean and Lentil Stew with Broccoli and Mini Peppers. Vegan Glutenfree Recipe


13 Holiday Baker Man April 23, 2013 at

Thanks for using brown rice!
Holiday Baker Man recently posted..Cherry-Streusel Coffee Cake – Secretary’s Day 2013


14 Annie @ Natural Sweet Recipes May 10, 2013 at

Wow, this looks so good! I am transitioning to a vegan diet right ow and am finding it hard to come up with meal plans that my meat loving husband likes. I will definitely be trying this! Thank you!
Annie @ Natural Sweet Recipes recently posted..Orange Quinoa Mint Salad


15 Alicia May 30, 2013 at

I have made a chickpea and potato butter recipe from a vegetarian cookbook before but cauliflower is one of my favorite veges so I can’t wait to try this.


16 TiffanyAzure@CremedelaCrumb June 3, 2013 at

Heidi this looks delish! I love indian and this is going to have to make an appearance in my kitchen very soon
TiffanyAzure@CremedelaCrumb recently posted..Tex Mex Quinoa Bowl


17 Sindy June 10, 2013 at

I have not made the Butter Cauliflower (yet) because I already had my heart set on a peanut curry. But the Coconut Rice was DELICIOUS and super easy!


18 Hannah June 15, 2013 at

OMG! this is better than going to an indian buffet. AMAZING!!!! I will be making this weekly! Better yet it is cheap!


19 Starr July 15, 2013 at

I made this yesterday and the cauliflower sauce was absolutely delicious. OMG…I will be making this again and again and again. I didn’t make the rice, but that will be next.


20 Lisa August 1, 2013 at

OH…EM….GEE! I just started cooking for a family who wants more Indian food and I will use this recipe for sure! It looks absolutely stunning 🙂


21 lb October 10, 2013 at

Looks yummy but Coconut Milk has VERY high fat content


22 Heidi @ Food Doodles October 18, 2013 at

It does, and that’s what makes this taste delicious! You can always use a lower fat coconut milk if you’d prefer that though, but I don’t think it will be as good 🙂


23 Mandy October 18, 2013 at

Amazing recipe. Both my son and husband absolutely loved it. Taste so much like butter chicken. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. It is now one of my number one recipes.


24 Rebekah November 3, 2013 at

Looks amazing! I have a question- did you use an immersion blender for the sauce or leave it chunky? It looks pretty smooth in the pictures.


25 Caitlin November 14, 2013 at

Just made this tonight and holy cow it is a knockout!! Seriously, my fiancé and I were blown away by how amazing this is. We love chicken makhani and this is just as good as what we get in a restaurant!!


26 AH September 14, 2014 at

Oh my god this is an amazing recipe!!! We made this tonight for dinner and my butter chicken loving father-in- law went back for seconds. Huge hit in our house


27 Wendy October 19, 2014 at

pho butter chicken


28 Sara November 10, 2014 at

This recipe looks delicious- thank you for it! My only suggestion is this: can we (everyone) stop measuring things by animal based standards? The write up of this recipe begins with “Let me just start by saying this doesn’t taste vegan.” ‘Vegan’ food tastes amazing! Healthy food tastes amazing! In the same way that many of us are trying to change language from things such as “real cheese” vs “vegan cheese”, can we start doing it across the board with all foods? I get why we make the distinction at times, but describing a dish as not tasting vegan or ‘you’ll never guess it’s vegan’ dismisses and puts down the fact that vegan/plant/health food is tasty as all get out.


29 Ashley June 17, 2015 at

This is AMAZING! New staple for me, actually making it right now! lol. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


30 Heidi @ Food Doodles June 19, 2015 at

Awesome, enjoy!


31 Leslie September 21, 2015 at

I’ve made this before and absolutely love it. Quick question – does anyone know if it freezes well?



32 Kristi February 24, 2016 at

This was amazing! I think we will be fighting for the leftovers.


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