Creamy. Thicc. Authentically delicious. Grab your napkin – it’s gonna be a feast with this vegan tofu butter chicken recipe.
As per usual, I was craving Indian food for dinner. But let’s be real, Indian food is the king of flavor and spice.
I knew I wanted something creamy, rich, fragrant, and something that reminded me of the butter chicken I used to order back in the day. Except, I wanted to make it vegan.
Needless to say, this was going to be a challenge. Because, how can you make murgh makhani without the butter, chicken or cream?
So, just as the headline suggests, I’ll be veganizing butter chicken.
Pro-tip: most of these ingredients can be found online. Or, at your local Asian or Indian grocery store.
How To Make Vegan Butter “Chicken” Creamy
The trick is to use high fat, non-dairy milk. A great example of that would be coconut milk.
Coconut milk is thicker, creamier, and fattier than your more popular vegan or non-dairy milk including almond milk, cashew milk, and soy milk.
Coconut milk is a very important ingredient in this recipe – don’t skip out on it! By the way, you’ll want to use coconut milk in a can.
More often than not, coconut milk in a carton is mixed with other non-dairy milk or diluted with water.
Can you guess the second ingredient that helps make this dish creamy? I’ll give you a clue: it’s in the name.
Butter is a must-have ingredient for this flavor, as it adds a layer of flavor, creaminess, and umami.
You can use any dairy-free butter of choice. I always go for Melt Organic, since I find it to taste closest to real butter. Additionally, it does not carry an odd lingering or aftertaste.
If you’re craving more creamy recipes, check out my vegan mac and cheese recipe.
I highly recommend it if you’re just looking for something versatile and can be used on anything from baked goods to toasted bread.
We’re also switching out the chicken for a block of firm tofu that has been frozen and then thawed to create a “meaty” and spongy texture that’s perfect for holding flavor.
Sides To Have With Vegan Butter “Chicken”
Vegan butter “chicken” is delicious on its own, but feel free to pair it with a buttery naan or white rice. Here are some other sides to consider.
- Aloo Tikki
- White Rice
- Steamed Vegetables
Or, you can make your own side dish rules and choose whatever you like to have with cooked up meatless murgh makhani.
I love a side of steamed rice or buttered garlic naan to help soak up some of the butter chicken gravy.
How To Make The “Chicken”
We’re not doing anything special with the tofu in this recipe. We’re simply removing the tofu block from its packaging and pressing the excess water from it.
However, if you want to achieve a chewy, “meaty,” and porous tofu vessel that’ll soak up every bit of that spiced gravy, first freeze a block of tofu. This means, if you’re thinking about creating this dish, you’ll need to do a bit of planning.
Tofu can either be left in its packaging and thrown directly in the freezer, or it can be pre-cut into cubes and transferred into a reusable silicone bag or freezer-grade ziplock bag.
Frozen tofu can be thawed on a countertop, in the refrigerator, under cool water, or in a microwave. I typically microwave to thaw my tofu, since it’s the fastest method.
Once the tofu has been completely thawed, press the excess water from the tofu and pat dry. Now you’re ready to get this recipe started.
This step is not required, but if you have the time – it’s worth it. The recipe below will dive right in.
More Recipes With Tofu:
For more quick and easy plant-based dinner recipes, check out 30-Minute Plant-Based Dinner Ideas.
Once you get over the challenge of finding your ingredients, this recipe is pretty easy to make (don’t be fooled by the number of steps).
- It should be fairly easy to find these ingredients. However, if you’re unable to locate them, you can find these items on Amazon.
- Note, you’ll need extra firm tofu to get that springy, texture you want to get from the tofu. Avoid silken tofu for this recipe.
- For this recipe, I used a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity that comes from the tomato paste. However, if that’s your jam – omit the sugar.
- It’s important to break down and blend the gravy prior to tossing the tofu pieces in. This will yield a much creamier gravy that you find in traditional murgh makhani. recipes. I used my regular ol’ blender.
- If you do not have fresh crushed garlic on hand, use a tablespoon of dry garlic powder, instead. By the way, a garlic crusher is hands-down one of my favorite kitchen purchases. It cuts prep time considerably.
Are you ready to impress your friends and family with this recipe?
Alright, cool. Let’s get to it.
Vegan Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)
- 19 ounce block firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoons ginger crushed
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 13 ounce can full coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- Pinch of sugar to tone down acidity, optional
- Freeze the tofu block overnight for at least 12 hours. Remove from freezer and thaw in the microwave for 10 minutes, or until soft. Carefully drain and press water from tofu block. freezing tofu helps create a "meaty" texture – I promise it's worth it.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the tofu pieces onto the baking sheet with space in between each piece. Bake the tofu pieces for 30 minutes, flipping halfway. Once done baking, remove the tofu pieces from the oven and set aside
- Next, add the onions in the pan until they are tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and ginger, tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add to the pan the rest of the spices, salt, coconut milk. Stir well. Lower heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the vegan butter chicken gravy into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the gravy back into the pan and add the tofu pieces. Stir and coat well. Stir in a pinch of sugar (optional) Simmer over low for 5 minutes. Serve.
- For a kid-friendly version, omit the heat. That means skip the cayenne pepper.
Did you try out this Vegan Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) Recipe?
Go plant-based the budget-friendly way and check out our Guide To A Cheap Plant-Based Diet.