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Tandoori pasta is creamy, bold, comforting, and a quick & simple 25-minute lunch or dinner the entire family will enjoy!

completed Tandoori Pasta on plate
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Bold and Comforting Tandoori Pasta Recipe

This Indian-style pasta dish – aka tandoori pasta is cozy, warming, and perfect for when you’re craving the comfort of Italian pasta but with the bold twist of Indian tandoori spices.

While we’ve already shared a recipe for creamy curry pasta, this tandoori sauce recipe replaces pre-mixed curry powder with a specially selected blend of pantry spices for a simple, homemade tandoori masala spice blend that’s smoky, earthy, aromatic, pungent, spicy, and super delicious.

When combined with sauteed aromatics, tomatoes, lemon juice, sweetener, and other inexpensive pantry ingredients, it’s a full-bodied yet simple and filling, delicious family meal perfect for busy weeknights. Plus, it’s naturally dairy-free, vegan, and can be made gluten-free.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for Tandoori Pasta measured out on a white surface

What Could I Add to Tandoori Pasta?

  • Other spices: Experiment with adding further depth to the tandoori masala spice mix with a pinch of mace, ground cloves, ground coriander, and/or fenugreek.
  • Spinach: Regular or baby spinach. Kale would also work. Add in a few handfuls towards the end and leave it to wilt.
  • Vegetables: Bulk up this meal with extra body and nutrients, i.e., bell pepper, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, peas, zucchini, eggplant, etc.
  • Dried fruit: If you like sweet and savory, sprinkle in raisins or chopped apricots.
  • Vegan ‘chicken’: i.e., a vegan-friendly mock chicken or tofu/tempeh.
  • Cashews: (or almonds/peanuts) Toasted, then sprinkled over for crunch.
  • Creaminess: Add some vegan yogurt, cashew cream, non-dairy cream, or canned coconut milk to the sauce for a richer, creamier version.
  • Fresh herbs: Use fresh mint leaves or cilantro to garnish.

How to Make Tandoori Pasta

process shot showing diced green onions and onion on cutting board
process shot showing veggies cooking on pan

Step 1: First, finely dice the red onion, mince the ginger, and slice the green onions.

Step 2: Then, heat the oil in a large, lidded pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in the green onion and ginger and sauté for a further 2 minutes.

process shot showing spices being added to pan
process shot of stirring ingredients in pan

Step 3: Add all the spices, stir well, and sauté for a minute, allowing the spices to bloom and become fragrant.

Step 4: Stir in the tomatoes, mix well, and bring to a boil. Then, cover it with a lid, lower the heat to a low simmer, and continue to cook, stirring every 2 minutes.

process shot showing juicing lemon into pan
  • Step 5: Mix your cooked pasta with the sauce. Finally, stir in the lemon and sweetener (to taste), then serve the pasta tandoori garnished with extra sliced green onion and crushed red pepper – enjoy!

    Alternatively, add the lemon and sweetener to the tandoori sauce just before pouring it over the pasta.

    Pro Recipe Tips

    • Bloom the spices: This is an important step to bring out all the flavors in the spices for a more full-bodied tandoori sauce.
    • Cook pasta al dente: It will continue to cook when combined with the hot tandoori sauce, so this ensures it doesn’t become overcooked and mushy.  
    • Save some pasta water: It helps thin the sauce while the starches help the sauce cling to pasta, making it a great addition to any homemade pasta sauce.
    • Tweak the flavors: Feel free to adjust the ratio of the spices and/or the amount of lemon and sweetener added to taste.
    • For a smoother sauce: Optionally use an immersion blender to blend the sauce.
    completed Tandoori Pasta on plate

    Serving Suggestions

    Enjoy this comforting tandoori pasta alone or with:

    • Garlic bread, naan, or other flatbread for scooping up sauce
    • Papadums – for dipping and crispy crunch
    • Chutney or Indian pickles (to serve as a side for tanginess)
    • Simple leafy green salad, raw carrot salad, or spicy cucumber salad
    • More cooked vegetables – like steamed/roasted green beans, broccoli, etc.
    • A side of lentil dal or lentil soup

    Storage Information

    Leave the tandoori sauce pasta to cool, then store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

    You can also freeze the sauce and/or sauce and pasta (note that pasta can become mushy upon thawing) for up to 3 months.

    To reheat the tandoori pasta, use a microwave in 30-second increments or heat it over medium-low heat on the stovetop, stirring often.

    If the sauce has thickened, add a splash of water or vegetable broth to loosen it.

    Tandoori Pasta

    5 from 1 vote
    Prep: 5 minutes
    Cook: 20 minutes
    Total: 25 minutes
    Servings: 4 to 6
    Tandoori pasta is creamy, bold, comforting, and a quick & simple 25-minute lunch or dinner the entire family will enjoy!

    Ingredients 

    • 2 tablespoons of neutral oil
    • 1 red onion, finely diced
    • ½ cup of sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger
    • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon of paprika
    • 1 teaspoon of cumin
    • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, in their juices
    • 1 cup of pasta water
    • 1 pound of pasta
    • 1 lemon
    • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, agave, or maple syrup
    • Crushed red pepper, garnish

    Instructions 

    • In a large pan with a lid, heat the oil under medium high heat. Add the red onion and cook until translucent. Add the green onion and ginger and saute for two minutes.
    • Add the garlic powder, cardamon, paprika, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix well and cook for one minute.
    • Add the diced tomatoes in their juices, mix well, bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a very low simmer. Stirring every couple of minutes.
    • While the onions, tomatoes, and spices cook, cook the pasta according to package instructions.
    • When the pasta is ready, drain it and save one cup of pasta water.
    • Return the pasta to the pot and add the sauce. Mix well and add more pasta water if needed.
    • Squeeze half a lemon and add the brown sugar, agave, or maple syrup. Mix well and garnish with sliced green onions and crushed red pepper.

    Notes

    • Bloom the spices: This is an important step to bring out all the flavors in the spices for a more full-bodied tandoori sauce.
    • Cook pasta al dente: It will continue to cook when combined with the hot tandoori sauce, so this ensures it doesn’t become overcooked and mushy.  
    • Save some pasta water: It helps thin the sauce while the starches help the sauce cling to pasta, making it a great addition to any homemade pasta sauce.
    • Tweak the flavors: Feel free to adjust the ratio of the spices and/or the amount of lemon and sweetener added to taste.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 564kcalCarbohydrates: 104gProtein: 17gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 39mgPotassium: 643mgFiber: 7gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 560IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 97mgIron: 4mg

    Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

    Additional Info

    Author: Toni Okamoto
    Course: Lunch
    Cuisine: Asian
    Method: Stovetop
    Diet: Vegan
    Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
    About

    Toni Okamoto

    “They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
    My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
    ‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
    we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

    More about Toni Okamoto

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