Tofu tikka masala recipe (Dairy free)
Vegan tikka masala is made with marinated and seasoned “chicken style” tofu. Best served with basmati rice or vegan naan. The creamy, dairy free masala sauce is full of flavorful and warming spices.
Tikka masala is a favorite take out dish from Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom and United States.
This dish is usually served with chicken, but we’re serving this with high protein tofu that’s been marinated in a dairy free yogurt sauce.
This recipe is
- Vegan & vegetarian
- Dairy free
- Nut free
- Coconut milk free
- Full of flavor
- Extra firm tofu – Instead of chicken in this recipe, we’re going to be marinating and then broiling extra firm tofu. Make sure it’s extra firm because we want it to hold up and be nice and chewy.
- Tomatoes – I used canned diced tomatoes for this recipe. You can also use crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
- Cumin powder
- Cumin seeds – These are different from cumin powder. You can usually find these in Indian grocery stores, or you can order them online as well. If you cook a lot of Indian food, it’s good to have these on hand because they’re in almost every recipe.
- Turmeric – This gives the dish that bright yellow color. Plus it’s full of amazing health benefits.
- Cayenne – If you don’t like spiciness, keep this out of the recipe.
- Coriander powder
- Dairy free yogurt – Make sure to use unsweetened and plain. I use either soy or cashew yogurt.
- Cilantro – This is to top off the dish with at the end. It adds a nice, bright flavor and color.
- Onion – Red onion will taste the best, but use whatever you have on hand.
- Ginger – Fresh ginger is a must in this recipe. I like to use a zester to grate it nice and find. It’s completely ok to leave the skin on if you’re grating it.
The tofu tastes best if it’s had at least 30 minutes to marinate. It will taste even better if it’s had 4 hours, but I honestly can never remember to prep that far ahead of time.
If you want to save some time, you can skip marinating the tofu and just bake it plain with 1 tablespoon of corn starch, a splash of soy sauce and some curry powder. Bake at 420 degrees for 30 minutes.
If you want to save even more time, don’t even bake the tofu, just cut it in chunks and add it to the masala sauce (plain) after the masala sauce is done simmering. I do this on weeknight when I just can’t be bothered. But be aware, marinating then broiling the tofu brings this recipe to a whole new level.
I love tearing the tofu instead of cutting it up because it creates more rigid edges for the sauce to stick to. But make sure not to tear into too small of pieces. I like to keep them about the same size as a large chunk of chicken.
This recipe tastes best as left overs, once all the flavors have had a chance to sit and meld together. This will last about a week in the fridge.
This also freezes well. Just thaw it out before heating it back up on the stove or in the microwave.
How to cook this in an instant pot
This recipe works amazingly well in a pressure cooker. Follow the directions as is, and when it comes time to simmer the masala sauce, close and seal the lid and cook on high pressure for about 10 minutes. After that, add the broiled tofu, dairy free yogurt, maple syrup and garam masala.
How to serve
Vegan tikka masala tastes best served with basmati rice or vegan naan. Top with fresh cilantro as well.
How can I substitute the yogurt?
If you can’t find unsweetened and plain dairy free yogurt, then feel free to use a can of full fat coconut milk.
You can also use cashew cream by soaking ½ cup of raw cashews in boiled water for 10 minutes, then blending them with 1 cup of water on high until smooth.
Can I use something besides tofu?
This recipe would taste amazing with vegan chicken instead of tofu.
You can also use cauliflower, or a mix of your favorite veggies to make a vegetable masala.
Where can I find cumin seeds?
If you make a lot of Indian dishes, cumin seeds are a must to have on hand. You can buy these at an Indian grocery store or online.
More recipes to try
- Spinach and chickpea curry
- Lentil and chickpea curry
- Vegan chana masala
- Vegan fondue
- Vegan heavy cream
- Instant pot red lentil dal
- Yellow lentil dal
Vegan tikka masala with tofu
- 1 cast iron pan
- 1 large pot
- 2 (16 oz) packages of extra firm tofu
- 1 cup unsweetened and plain dairy free yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ inch fresh ginger (minced)
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 diced red onion
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 inch fresh ginger (minced)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup unsweetened and plain dairy free yogurt
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or sugar)
Marinate the tofu
- Drain the tofu and press it for 15-30 minutes. After it's been pressed, tear it into bit sized chunks about the size of large chunks of chicken. Make sure not to tear them too small.2 (16 oz) packages of extra firm tofu
- In a large mixing bowl, add the tofu chunks, dairy free yogurt, garam masala, cayenne, ginger, garlic, salt and lemon juice. Stir gently and make sure every piece is covered. Put in the fridge and let it marinate while we get our masala sauce together. This tastes best if it's had at least 30 minutes to marinate.1 cup unsweetened and plain dairy free yogurt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons garam masala, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic, ½ inch fresh ginger, 2 (16 oz) packages of extra firm tofu
Prepare the masala sauce
- Add oil to a large pot on medium heat. Let the pot heat up for 2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and let them cook for about a minute. Add the diced onions and cook until translucent and golden brown (about 5-8 minutes). Season with a small pinch of salt.2 teaspoons oil, 1 diced red onion, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Add the turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger and garlic and sauté for about 1-2 minutes. Stir constantly. This brings out the flavor of the spices.1 inch fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 4 cloves garlic
- Add the tomatoes, salt and water. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. When sauce has about 10 minutes left, broil the tofu with the directions below.½ teaspoon salt, 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, 1 cup water, ½ teaspoon salt
Broil the tofu (while the sauce is simmering)
- While the sauce is simmering, put the oven rack to the second highest rung. Turn oven on to 450 degrees and set a cast iron or oven safe pan in the oven to heat up the pan. This ensures the bottom of the tofu will cook. Heat it up for about 5-10 minutes.
- With oven safe gloves, take the pan out of the oven. Oil the bottom of the pan and add the tofu to the pan. Add the tofu to the oven and turn the oven to high broil and broil the tofu for about 10-15 minutes, or until the tofu starts to get crispy and golden brown on top. After 10 minutes, check the tofu every five minutes to make sure it's not burning.
Put it all together
- After the sauce has finished simmering, add the dairy free yogurt, maple syrup and garam masala. Once tofu is done broiling, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then add it to the sauce. Let it all heat up together for another 5-10 minutes on a low simmer. Serve with rice or vegan naan.1 cup unsweetened and plain dairy free yogurt, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, ½ teaspoon garam masala
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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