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Tofu Indian Curry: Vegan 'Butter Chicken' Recipe

Tofu Indian curry is a great opportunity to cook up a vegan version of one of our favorite Indian tofu recipes. 'Butter Chicken' in a Makhanicurry sauce is a deep, flavorful Indian curry, and it's surprisingly easy to make this curry-favorite a vegan-friendly option. 

We love a good tofu curry recipe, and we love how easy it is to replace the meat with extra firm tofu. Authentic Indian curries are often vegetarian or vegan, in fact. While we might be used to seeing 'Butter Chicken' on the menu, the age-old Makhani style curry sauce goes just as well with vegetables, paneer, and in this case, tofu.

Without further ado, here's our chickenless 'Butter Chicken' tofu Indian curry recipe! 

How to make tofu Indian curry (with makhani sauce)

Makes 4 servings of Indian curry tofu

Ingredients for the marinated tofu 

  • 14 ounces of extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained
  • 1 tsp of avocado oil
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Makhani sauce

  • 1 tsp of avocado oil
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp of ground coriander
  • ½ tbsp of grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 chopped tomato 
  • ¼ cup of tomato paste
  • ½ tsp of turmeric 
  • ½ tsp of cayenne pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp of dry fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 cups of vegetable stocks 
  • ¼ cup of raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp of vegan butter
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Directions for the marinated tofu 

  1. Start preparing tofu curry Indian style by pressing, then marinating your extra firm tofu. To press the tofu, place your block into a tofu press, before leaving it for 20 minutes to drain. If you don't have a tofu press, then wrap your tofu in paper towels and press down firmly with a chopping board or other heavy kitchen object and leave for 20 minutes. 
  2. While your tofu is pressing, mix together the marinade for our Indian tofu recipe. Measure out avocado oil, ground coriander, cayenne pepper powder, turmeric, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine thoroughly. 
  3. When the tofu has been pressed and drained, slice it into cubes and leave it to marinate in the sauce you've just prepared as part of our simple tofu curry recipe. Marinate the tofu curry for at least one hour. 

Directions for Makhani-style tofu curry 

  1. Once your tofu has marinated, it's time to start preparing the rest of our curry. Start by heating avocado oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, fry your cubes of marinated tofu until they are golden-brown all over. You'll need no longer than 3 minutes for each cube of tofu, but remember to keep flipping them so they can cook evenly. 
  2. Remove the tofu cubes when cooked, but keep the skillet on the heat so we can prepare the makhani sauce. Add some extra avocado oil, then fry cumin seeds in the skillet. Follow up with cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, and finally, the cinnamon. Cook all these ingredients together for one minute.
  3. Next, add diced onions and keep cooking until they start to soften. Your Indian curry with tofu now needs ginger and garlic, fenugreek leaves, and cashew nuts. Keep cooking for one minute while mixing all the ingredients together. 
  4. Now, add chopped tomato, tomato paste, ground coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper powder to the skillet. Keep frying until all your tomatoes are soft and are beginning to disintegrate. 
  5. Turn off the heat and leave the ingredients to cool down. When cool, pour the ingredients from the skillet into a blender, then pour in one cup of vegetable stock. Blend the ingredients into a smooth Makhani paste. 
  6. Pour the paste back into your skillet and add extra vegetable stock if it's too thick for the tofu curry. Turn the heat back on and add your tofu cubes to the curry. Leave the tofu curry to simmer for at least 10 minutes on the stovetop. Add extra vegetable stock if it starts to thicken too much or looks too dry. 
  7. Finally, stir in vegan butter and leave it to melt into the tofu curry. Add a dash of lemon juice and a squeeze of maple syrup, then serve up nice and hot with fresh rice!

Tofu Indian curry FAQ 

How long do I need to marinate the tofu? 

We recommend leaving the tofu to marinate for at least one hour, but that's a minimum. In reality, the longer you can leave the tofu marinating in the sauce, the stronger it's going to taste.

If you have time, then prepare the marinate and the tofu the night before. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight, and you'll have delicious tofu to work with the next day. 

What can I serve with tofu curry? 

Our tofu curry recipe is best served with a portion of fresh rice or with freshly baked naan bread. You could even serve both. 

These two classic Indian sides are unbeatable, but you could also cook up a few side curries to go with them if you have time. A vegetable curry is a great all-around choice, but you could go for a lentil dhal, pilau rice, onion bhaji, or a few vegetable samosas.    

What other ingredients can I add to tofu curry?

As well as using tofu as the main ingredient (and the substitute for chicken, in this 'Butter Chicken' recipe), you can experiment with other ingredients too. 

If you eat dairy products, then paneer cheese is a classic Indian ingredient, but you can go for mushrooms, bell peppers, cauliflower, or broccoli too (we'd suggest in addition to the tofu!). 

What can I do with leftover tofu Indian curry?

If you have any leftover tofu Indian curry, then transfer them to a resealable container or a ziplock bag and store them in the refrigerator. You can safely keep them in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Reheat the leftovers by slowly simmering them in a skillet or saucepan on the stovetop.

The leftovers can be frozen, too, and safely kept for up to 6 months in the freezer. Divide the leftovers up into individual portions, and freeze them individually. When you're ready for more tofu Indian curry, try to let it thaw on the side. Once defrosted, reheat in a skillet or saucepan on the stovetop. 

Tofu Indian curry: vegan Makhani curry

Now you know how to make tofu curry Indian style! This is one of our favorite vegan Indian recipes curry-style that you can prepare at home, and with the right spices and ingredients, you can even cook up a tofu 'Butter Chicken' without any chicken at all!

Serve it up with rice or naan bread, and extra chilis to the tofu curry recipe if you're looking for a fiery kick. Why not bookmark our tofu Indian curry recipe for your next curry night?