An easy vegan butter chicken recipe made with chewy marinated tofu pieces cooked in a spiced tomato creamy sauce. The best vegan Indian curry recipe for cold days.
This vegan butter chicken is a vegan curry adaptation of the popular Indian butter chicken.
Below are all the tips and tricks to make the best vegan butter chicken with chewy, tender pieces of vegan protein, and a creamy, buttery tomato sauce.
Is Butter Chicken Sauce Vegan?
No, a classic butter chicken sauce is not vegan because it contains butter and heavy cream.
Both are cow-derivative products that make the sauce not vegan.
How To Make Vegan Butter Chicken
This easy Vegan Butter Chicken recipe is made in two steps. First, you need to prepare the tofu. Then, you make the vegan butter chicken sauce.
Finally, you can assemble the dish and serve it with your favorite side dishes. Let’s see each step in detail with the ingredients needed to make this easy vegan curry recipe.
Draining The Tofu
To create a chicken-like texture in your vegan curry, you need to use a firm tofu block or an extra firm tofu block.
First, drain the tofu block for 30 minutes to remove excess water. Below is a picture that shows you how to press tofu to remove its water.
The simplest technique consists of wrapping the tofu block in absorbent paper and then placing it between two wooden chopping boards.
Finally, add pressure on the top board. It can be done by stacking books or a bowl filled with tap water. Set aside 20 minutes to give time for the tofu to drain.
Cutting The Tofu
Since you want to mimic chicken texture to its best, it is recommended to cut the tofu into irregular pieces.
To do so, first cut thin tofu slices and then pull apart each slice into chunks of tofu.
Marinating The Tofu
The last step consists of covering the tofu pieces with a marinade that adds lovely Indian flavors to the tofu and gives a nice chewy texture.
To make the marinade, you need to add all the ingredients below in a medium mixing bowl. Then, add the tofu pieces into the bowl and stir to cover with marinade evenly.
- Olive oil
- Garam masala
- Garlic powder
Baking The Tofu
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lay the marinated tofu pieces in a single layer on the tray and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping them halfway.
Vegan Butter Chicken Sauce
The best vegan butter chicken sauce is made of a spiced curry paste cooked with coconut cream.
All the ingredients you need to make this great recipe sauce are:
- Coconut oil – you can use refined coconut oil to avoid any coconut flavor or olive oil.
- Vegan butter
- Garam masala – don’t replace it with curry powder. This is not the same thing.
- Fenugreek powder – this is an optional spice but a typical Indian spice that creates all the difference in this butter chicken sauce recipe, so highly recommended!
- Ground Cumin
- Sea salt
- Ginger and garlic – I used ground ginger and fresh garlic, but you can also use fresh ginger.
- Tomato paste
- Coconut cream – you can also use canned coconut milk to decrease the saturated fat in this recipe, but the sauce won’t be as creamy and buttery. You must use canned coconut cream or coconut milk, not long-life milk, or the sauce would be too thin!
Prepare the curry paste
The sauce is super easy to make in 10 minutes. First, melt coconut oil and vegan butter over medium heat and cook the onion until soft and fragrant.
Then, add all the curry spices along with tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
In fact, frying the spices and tomato paste is the trick to creating the most fragrant Indian curry, so don’t skip this part.
Finally, stir in canned coconut cream and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Assembling The Tofu Butter Chicken Recipe
Now, stir the baked tofu pieces into the vegan butter chicken sauce, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
How To Spice Up Your Vegan Butter Chicken
A classic butter chicken recipe is mild in flavor, which means that it doesn’t include chili powder. However, if you love spicy curry, follow the rules below to adjust the curry spiciness:
- Mild curry – don’t add chili powder. Follow the recipe as is.
- Medium – add 1/4 teaspoon chili powder to the sauce.
- Spicy – add 1/2 teaspoon chili powder to the sauce.
How To Serve Vegan Butter Chicken Curry
You can serve this Indian curry with many different side dishes like:
- Classic Jasmine rice or basmati rice
- Brown rice or quinoa – for a healthy high-fiber side
- Cauliflower rice – for a low-carb vegan meal
You can make this recipe with many different vegetables or vegan proteins. For example, you can replace the tofu pieces with the same amount of canned chickpea.
Marinate and cook the chickpeas as for tofu.
Bake them in the oven to make them crispy, or skip the marinade for a quick chickpea curry and add the drained, canned chickpeas directly into the sauce.
Other great tofu substitutions for this curry are :
- Cauliflower florets
- Steamed potatoes and peas
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
Did You Like This Recipe?
Vegan Butter Chicken-style Curry With Tofu
Prepare the tofu
- Wrap the tofu block with absorbent paper and place it between two chopping boards, adding a few books on top of the top board to add pressure. Set aside 30 minutes to release all the tofu moisture.
- Cut the tofu block into thin slices (about 0.4 inches/0.1cm). Then pull apart the tofu slices to create irregular pieces of tofu – this mimics chicken texture the best! but you can also simply cube the tofu slices if preferred.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients: olive oil, cornstarch, garlic powder, masala, turmeric, and salt.
- Add the tofu chunks into the marinade and combine with a spoon.
- Lay the tofu pieces onto the prepared baking sheet into a single layer, and make sure the tofu pieces don't touch each other or overlap.
- Bake on the center rack for 20-30 minutes, flipping them halfway. Meanwhile, prepare the curry sauce
- Heat a large skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil, butter, and chopped onions. Stir and cook until fragrant and soft, about 2 minutes.
- Add all the spices: ginger, garam masala, fenugreek, cumin, salt, crushed garlic, and tomato paste. Stir and cook for 30 seconds until it forms a paste.
- Stir in canned coconut cream, stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the baked tofu pieces, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
- Serve with jasmine rice, vegan naan bread, or cauliflower rice for a low-carb version.