This Vegan tikka masala is made with marinated and seasoned "chicken style" tofu. The creamy, dairy free masala sauce is full of flavorful and warming spices and simple ingredients.
Tikka masala is a favorite take out dish from Indian restaurants in the United Kingdom and United States.
Traditional tikka masala is usually served with chicken, but we're serving this with high protein tofu that's been marinated in a dairy free yogurt sauce.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
- It's cheaper and healthier than ordering take out.
- It's dairy free, vegan and vegetarian friendly.
- Nut free and coconut milk free.
- Full of amazing Indian flavors and simple ingredients.
- It's rich and creamy and super comforting.
🧂 Ingredients & substitutions
Make sure to scroll to the recipe card for full list of ingredients.
- 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. If you don't want to use tofu, you can use chickpeas, soy curls or homemade vegan chicken.
- Tomatoes - I used canned diced tomatoes for this recipe. You can also use crushed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or tomato paste. For a smoother creamy sauce, I like to blend the tomatoes.
- Spices - I use a mix of cumin powder, coriander powder, ground turmeric, fenugreek leaves, black pepper, garam masala and red chili powder.
- Cumin seeds - These are different from cumin powder. You can usually find these in Indian grocery stores, or you can order cumin seeds 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.
- Dairy free yogurt - Make sure to use unsweetened and plain. I use either soy or cashew yogurt. You can substitute with coconut cream or homemade vegan cream made from cashews.
- 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.
- Garlic - A must have for any Indian dish. You can buy a ginger garlic paste from an Indian grocery store to make this even easier.
- 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.
👩🍳 Expert tips
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.
Tearing the tofu instead of cutting it up creates more rigid edges for the sauce to stick to and a better texture. 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.
Check out my post on Indian Spices List For Beginners, for tips on building up your spice cabinet.
🔪 Step by step instructions
Make sure to scroll to the recipe card for full step-by-step instructions.
Step one: Drain and press tofu with a tofu press for 15-30 minutes, then tear into chunks. In a large bowl, combine tofu, dairy-free yogurt, spices, and lemon juice. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. Broil the marinated tofu on high for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, checking every 5 minutes to avoid burning.
Step two: Heat olive oil or coconut oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add cumin seeds and cook for about a minute. Add diced onions and cook until golden brown and translucent (around 5-8 minutes), adding a pinch of salt.
Step three: Stir in turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger, and garlic; sauté for 1-2 minutes to enhance flavors.
Step four: Blend tomatoes and add tomato puree, salt, and water. Cover, simmer for 20 minutes. After the tikka masala sauce has finished simmering, add the dairy free yogurt, maple syrup and garam masala. Once tofu cubes are done broiling, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then add it to the creamy tomato sauce. Let it all heat up together for another 5-10 minutes on a low simmer. Serve with rice or vegan naan bread.
❄️ Storing tips
This vegan tikka masala recipe tastes even better the next day and is great to meal prep. This will last about a week in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
♨️ Serving suggestions
Vegan tikka masala tastes best served with basmati rice or vegan naan bread, or any other Indian bread like chapati or roti. Top with fresh cilantro as well. You can also serve it with cauliflower rice.
❓ Recipe FAQ's
This vegan masala with tofu 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.
Yes, this recipe freezes very well. Just cool it to room temperature, then freeze in a freezer friendly airtight container for up to three months. Let it completely thaw before heating up. You may need to add a splash of water, since the creamy curry sauce will thicken as it cools.
This vegan tikka masala is made with marinated and broiled tofu and a creamy masala sauce that is made with dairy free yogurt, tomtatoes, spices, fresh garlic and ginger.
🍛 Similar recipes
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Easy 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
- For smoother masala, blend the tomatoes, then add the tomato puree, 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
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