Coconut Shrimp Tikka Masala-ish


This recipe is inspired by the beloved Indian dish (that was actually invented in London!), tikka masala. Traditional tikka masala involves onion, garlic, and a slew of spices that will run your grocery bill way up, you’ll possibly never use again, and then you’ll be annoyed with me. And I can’t handle that!

So I concocted this tikka masala inspired dish that has SO MUCH FLAVOR with so little effort, and so few ingredients. I use yellow curry paste in place of several ingredients – onions, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and chili are ALL in yellow curry paste!

I also lightened the calorie/fat load a bit by using coconut milk instead of heavy cream. I hope you will love it as much as we do. I’ll put more notes and substitutions below the recipe (as always) but FYI – this easily becomes a CHICKEN tikka masala by stirring in 2-inch cubed pieces of chicken breast instead of shrimp!

Coconut Shrimp Tikka Masala-ish

Servings 4 to 6 people


  • Large saucepan or skillet
  • Wooden spoon/spatula
  • Small mixing bowl


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup yellow curry see notes below about spiciness!
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 ounce can coconut milk or coconut cream (NOT light coconut milk!)
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds peeled deveined shrimp (21-25 per pound)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro


  • Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup curry paste and 3 tablespoons tomato paste and stir until things are smelling very fragrant and wonderful and start to stick to the bottom of the pan, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t you dare let it burn!
  • Pour in a big splash of the coconut milk and stir until the curry and tomato pastes are completely smooth and no lumps remain. Add the remaining 1 (14.5 ounce) can coconut milk, 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes. 1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, 2 teaspoons garam masala, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure you get up any curry paste that might have stuck.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the mixture has thickened and the chickpeas are very tender.
  • Meanwhile, toss 2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp with 1 teaspoon garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Refrigerate.
  • When the mixture is thick and the chickpeas are tender, use your spoon to crush about half of the chickpeas and tomatoes. Stir in the shrimp until they are covered in sauce. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until completely opaque and cooked through. Stir in 1/4 cup minced cilantro and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Taste!!! What does it need more of? More salt? Do it! Want it spicier? Add some cayenne pepper (tiny bit!) or red pepper flakes.
  • Serve over plain white or brown rice, or quinoa, OR better idea… my coconut rice.


  • Olive oil you can use absolutely any oil here. Coconut, avocado, grapeseed, do your thing.
  • Curry paste you can also use red curry paste. Curry powder is really not the same thing, but if that’s what youve got, use 3 tablespoons of it, and yes, you’re still gonna toast it with the tomato paste!
  • Coconut milk traditional tikka masala uses heavy cream, yum. If you also want to do that, use 1/2 cup and stir it in at the same time as the coconut milk.
  • Diced tomatoes whole peeled tomatoes, but crush with your hands as you add them. Tomato sauce (the canned kind, not marinara!) also works. You can also use 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes, but it’ll be a lot waterier and take longer to cook into a thick sauce.
  • Garbanzo beans cannellini or navy beans.
  • Garam masala you need it for this tikka masala-ish dish, but if you don’t have it, omit it and you’ve got a nice curry!
  • Shrimp chicken! 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed up. Simmer for 10 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Or, go vegetarian by using 2 cans of garbanzo beans!
  • Cilantro basil ain’t traditional, but neither is this dish, so it would be tasty too.


MORE IDEAS: Stir in 3 cups of spinach at the end to bulk up the veg. Frozen peas would be tasty too. No coconut milk or heavy cream? Stir in 1/2 cup of plain whole milk yogurt (after the tomatoes simmer and thicken for 25 to 30 minutes). 

Join the Conversation

  1. Made this dish tonight. It was fabulous! I actually used both chicken and shrimp. I added peas and snap peas as well. Would have added cauliflower but the pan was full, so I steamed it and we added it on our plates. Everyone added a bit of cayenne pepper (I was afraid to add it in the pan; didn’t want to "overheat" it for all).
    Delicious dinner!
    Thank you, Caroline!

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