Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala Recipe

This twist on the classic Indian dish is flavorful, satisfying, and easy to make. This recipe, brought to us by recipe developer Feta Topalu, combines the rich and aromatic flavors of traditional tikka masala with tofu instead of paneer, making it the perfect choice for those seeking a plant-based, dairy-free alternative.

While this dish is packed with flavor, it doesn't require many ingredients and it can be made in under 45 minutes. Topalu notes, "Because this dish comes together rather quickly, it makes it ideal for a weeknight dinner." It can be served simply with rice and bread or can become one dish in a vegan feast.

With its creamy tomato-based sauce, soft chunks of tofu, and a harmonious blend of spices, this dish is a great version of the original that's easy to customize and adapt to the ingredients in your pantry. Whether you're a lifelong vegan or simply looking to explore new flavors, this vegan tofu tikka masala will leave you satisfied.

Gather your vegan tofu tikka masala ingredients

To begin, you can start by gathering your ingredients. For this recipe, you will need some of the typical tikka masala ingredients including onion, ginger, garlic, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and coconut milk. Since this is a vegan version, you will also need tofu, as well as some other essential ingredients like cilantro, salt, and olive oil.

Step 1: Saute the onion

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Step 2: Add the ginger and garlic

Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Step 3: Toast the spices

Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne to the pan, toast the spices for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Step 4: Stir in the tomato paste

Stir in tomato paste, cook for 1 minute. 

Step 5: Add tofu and crushed tomatoes

Add crushed tomatoes and tofu, stir to combine.

Step 6: Simmer

Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Step 7: Add the creaminess

Stir in coconut milk, cook for 5 more minutes. Season with salt.

Step 8: Garnish and serve

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and naan.

What can you serve with this vegan tofu tikka masala?

To make this into a complete meal, serve it with rice and bread. Topalu notes, "Tikka masala is always served with garlic naan and basmati rice in my home but it can also be served with vegetable biryani, Jerra rice, or papadum, (a crispy Indian cracker)." A classic choice to accompany tikka masala, basmati rice provides a neutral, fluffy base that balances the spiciness of the sauce. You can cook it plain or with a touch of saffron for extra aroma. Vegan naan, which you can make or buy, works to scoop up the sauce. 

We'd also recommend serving this dish with vegan cucumber raita, a cooling and creamy side dish made from dairy-free yogurt, cucumber, mint, and spices, which provides a refreshing contrast to the spicy flavors of the tikka masala. Pickled red onions offer a zesty and tangy bite that complements the richness of the dish. 

How can you customize this vegan tofu tikka masala?

You can customize this dish to your personal preferences and experiment with different flavors. Create a rich, cashew-based sauce by blending soaked cashews with water and adding it to the tomato sauce. Add a variety of colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, or peas to increase the nutritional value and add more texture to the dish. And you can serve it with paratha, roti, or even pita instead of the naan.

Adjust the amount of ginger, garlic, and spices to your preference. You can customize the level of spiciness to your taste: Add chili powder, red pepper flakes, or fresh chilies to achieve more heat. Add chickpeas or lentils for an extra protein boost and additional heartiness. You can replace the tofu with seitan (wheat gluten) or tempeh for a different plant-based protein source. Add a touch of sweetness with agave nectar, maple syrup, or coconut sugar, or for a tangy variation, increase the lemon or lime juice.

Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala Recipe
No Ratings
This simple and customizable version of tikka masala uses tofu instead of paneer. It's flavorful, easy-to-make, and uses completely plant-based ingredients.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
28
minutes
Servings
4
servings
spoonful of vegan tofu tikka masala
Total time: 38 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10-ounce) package extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, shake right before opening
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Optional Ingredients:
  • Basmati rice, for serving
  • Naan, for serving
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne to the pan, toast the spices for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, cook for 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and tofu, stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Stir in coconut milk, cook for 5 more minutes. Season with salt.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and naan.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 552
Total Fat 36.1 g
Saturated Fat 20.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 45.2 g
Dietary Fiber 7.7 g
Total Sugars 12.6 g
Sodium 1,080.1 mg
Protein 22.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe