Tofu Tikka Masala

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This Tofu Tikka Masala is so flavorful,  seasoned tofu cubes cooked in aromatic homemade tomato sauce is simply amazing. Enjoy this vegan, gluten-free version of the classic chicken tikka masala. 

Tofu Tikka Masala

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Lately,  I have been making vegan tikka masala for my family and I had to share with my readers the unbelievable flavor, my family enjoyed it so much that I made the recipe this week for two evenings in a row. Served with my cooked Brown Rice and salad it was a huge hit.

This vegan tikka masala recipe reminds me of my college days living in Leicester, England where I would have the traditional version served with naan bread at local Indian restaurants quite frequently. My vegan version tastes exactly the same!

The only store bought vegan tikka masala that I'm familiar with is Trader Joe's vegan tikka masala but unfortunately, it isn't gluten-free. 

What Is Tikka Masala?

Traditional tikka masala is small pieces of boneless meat (mainly chicken) marinated in a mixture of aromatic spices and yogurt, roasted in a Tandoor oven, then cooked in a creamy aromatic tomato sauce.

In this case, tofu makes a great substitute for meat. It has the ability to absorb the flavors of the marinades and spices. Other substitutes would be Soy Curls, Chickpeas or veggies. 

Tikka Masala Spices

I used a combination of Indian spices mixed with lemon juice and vegan yogurt or coconut cream as the marinade for the tofu. For the vegan yogurt, there are many brands available, like Soy Delicious.

The first two times I made the recipe, I used coconut cream plus lemon juice for the marinade base and then I used vegan yogurt with lemon and the recipe turned out great so if you don't have vegan yogurt where you just substitute with coconut cream. 

If you are concerned about calories then the version using vegan almond yogurt would definitely be a better one.

To Make Coconut Cream - Place one (15-ounce) can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The following morning remove the can and open. Remove the white coconut cream from the top of the can and save the clear liquid to add to your smoothies, curries, baked goods. 

The spice blends for the marinade and the creamy curry sauce are very flavorful. I used a combination of strong spices with mild ones. Spices such as cumin, cinnamon, versus mild ones such as turmeric, coriander, paprika, and cardamom. 

If you don't use cinnamon my recommendation is to increase the cardamom in the recipe but do it in stages, taste the result and add more if you need to. 

Tikka Masala Sauce

Traditionally, tikka masala sauce is made with yogurt, cream and clarified butter (ghee).  For a vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free version,  I have successfully substituted the dairy with coconut cream and cashew cream,

Honestly, I can't tell whether I prefer it with coconut cream or cashew cream. I'm from Jamaica so I love the coconut flavor but I also love the thickness of the sauce with the cashew cream. 

The next time I make the recipe, I will use a combination of both. When I made the sauce with the cashew cream, I added a tablespoon of maple syrup to the tikka masala sauce but left it out of the version with coconut cream.

Tofu tikka masala steps, tofu preparation, tikka masala marinade, frying seasoned tofu, tikka masala sauce

How To Make Tofu Tikka Masala?

Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala is so easy to prepare, marinate the tofu cubes, lightly fry or bake them, prepare the sauce and simmer the tofu in the sauce.

  1. Prepare Tofu - Tofu usually comes in a pack with water, drain the water and press tofu to get rid of excess water. Place tofu on a cutting board, lined with paper towel or a clean dish towel. Wrap tofu with more paper towels, place a heavy object on top of tofu, like books or a pot. Allow the tofu to press for 20 minutes. The moisture out of the block of tofu will be absorbed in the paper towel. Remove tofu and cut into cubes.
  2. Prepare the aromatic spiced vegan yogurt or coconut cream with lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and salt.  Marinate tofu cubes in aromatic spiced yogurt or coconut cream for 10 minutes. 
  3. Fry marinated tofu -Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high. Add tofu cubes to the skillet and cook until brown and crisp on all sides. Use a cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet. Make sure the oil is hot enough before adding tofu cubes and it takes about 3 minutes for tofu to get crisp on each side. Remove cooked tofu from skillet and set aside. 
  4. Lower the calories by baking your tofu instead of frying -  bake marinated tofu cubes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (coat with cooking spray to prevent the tofu from sticking) or you can use a silicone mat. Bake in a preheated oven on 400 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes turning halfway. 
  5. Prepare the tikka masala sauce - Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the skillet, I love coconut oil because it gives a nice flavor to the curry dish. Add onion, and cook for 2 minutes, stir in garlic, garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spices, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric and stir.
  6. Add tomato sauce, cashew cream or coconut milk, maple syrup, water, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cook sauce until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes,  add tofu pieces and stir to coat. Cook for about 2-3 minutes for the flavors to meld. You may need to add extra water if sauce gets too thick.
  7. Serve with rice or roti and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. 

Other Amazing Tofu Recipes To Try 

Tofu tikka masala straight on view in a black skillet with lots of curry sauce, garnished with cilantro leaves on a wooden background with a silver spoon

If you make this tofu tikka masala recipe, snap a photo and hashtag #healthiersteps  — we love to see your recipes on InstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Categories

Categories: ,
Course:
Cuisine:

Nutrition

Energy:
119 kcal / 497 kJ
Fat:
10 g
Protein:
2 g
Carbs:
8 g
Per portion

Cooking Time

Preparation:
20 min
Ready in:
20 min
For:
8 Servings

Ingredients

Tofu Marinade

Tikka Masala Sauce

Instructions

Prepare Tofu Marinade

  1. Prepare Tofu - Tofu usually comes in a pack with water, drain the water and press tofu to get rid of excess water. Place tofu on a cutting board, lined with paper towel or a clean dish towel. Wrap tofu with more paper towels, place a heavy object on top of tofu, like books or a pot. Allow the tofu to press for 20 minutes. The moisture out of the block of tofu will be absorbed in the paper towel. Remove tofu and cut into cubes.
  2. In a bowl, combine, vegan yogurt or coconut cream with lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, salt and mix to form a paste.  Add tofu cubes and gently stir to coat with the marinade. Allow tofu to marinate for about 10 minutes.

Prepare Tikka Masala

  1. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high. Add tofu cubes to the skillet and cook until brown and crisp on all sides. Use a cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet. Make sure the oil is hot enough before adding tofu cubes and it takes about 3 minutes for tofu to get crisp on each side. Remove cooked tofu from skillet and set aside. 
  2. You can also bake tofu cubes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (coat with cooking spray to prevent the tofu from sticking) or you can use a silicone mat. Bake in a preheated oven on 400 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes turning halfway. 
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the skillet, I love coconut oil because it gives a nice flavor to the curry dish. Add onion, and cook for 2 minutes, stir in garlic, garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spices, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric and stir.
  4. Add tomato sauce, cashew cream or coconut milk, maple syrup, water, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cook sauce until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes,  add tofu pieces and stir to coat. Cook for about 2-3 minutes for the flavors to meld. You may need to add extra water if sauce gets too thick.
  5. Serve with rice or roti and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. 

Notes

  1. If you want to eliminate the tofu pressing steps, purchase superfirm tofu. It comes in a vacuum pack and not in water like the others.

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.

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4 Comments
  1. Helen Berlouis
    April 19, 2019

    Hello, this looks amazing really keen to try! However I’m a bit of novice with cooking and need things spelling out to me! So a few silly questions…
    1. For the tomato sauce, would any shop bought one be ok? Could I use passata? Or does it matter what type you use?
    2. After you marinade the tofu, does all of the marinade sauce go in the skillet too or just the tofu cubes?

    • Michelle Blackwood
      April 19, 2019

      Hello Helen, yes you can use any tomato sauce, Add the tofu along with the marinade sauce because it shouldn’t be that much remaining in the bowl. Hope you enjoy.

  2. Lu
    March 24, 2019

    I’m making this right now and just the sauce alone is SO GOOD. You are amazing.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      March 24, 2019

      Lu, thank you. Please enjoy!