If you’re looking for a hearty and comforting dinner recipe that will leave you feeling warm and satiated, this Vegan Butter Spice Tofu is for you!
Full disclosure: I’ve never actually eaten Butter Tofu or Butter Chicken. I have no idea what they’re supposed to taste like. A friend and I were having dinner recently and she kept describing how the sauce should taste. It sounded so, so good (creamy yet spicy) that I couldn’t get it out of my head. I spent the next week thinking about how I could make a version of this delicious dish myself!
One night in the kitchen, I began throwing spices, coconut milk and crushed tomatoes into a saucepan and kept mixing and adding ingredients until I was happy with the result. I grilled some tofu, tossed it in too and voila—what came out was this Vegan Butter Spice Tofu.
I make no claim that this tastes like the traditional chicken dish (because I truly have no idea). What I can tell you is that it’s delicious, full of creamy spiciness and with a rich savoury flavour. Instead of butter, I’ve used coconut milk and oil and combined them with tomatoes, garam masala and coriander. This gives the dish an intense but comforting flavor. Do be aware though that this dish is pretty high in fat. While these fats are from whole food sources—and I don’t count calories in my recipes—I mention this in case it’s something you’re being mindful of. You’ll notice that the dish is very rich—so I wouldn’t recommend it every day!
I can't stress how important it is to use full-fat coconut milk! Not all coconut milks are created equal. Some are more watery, while others are creamy and rich. As a general rule, buy the best you can afford until you find one whose consistency you love. (If you're in the US or Canada, Whole Foods 365 brand is really good.
For the Tofu
350 g block of medium or firm tofu
½ tbsp grapeseed, olive or avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp finely grated ginger (you can use powdered ginger instead, but use ½ tbsp)
¾ cup crushed tomatoes (I like Whole Foods 365 own brand with basil)
¾ cup full fat coconut milk (very important to use full fat!)
1 tsp Bragg's Soy Seasoning or tamari/soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve (optional)
Brown rice, quinoa or millet
Preheat your oven's grill/broiler. Cut the tofu into roughly 1½-2cm cubes.
Place the tofu in an oven-proof dish, and add ½ tbsp grapeseed, olive or avocado oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss the tofu in the pan to ensure it's well-coated.
Grill/broil in the oven for 12-14 minutes until it is golden brown, then flip the tofu over, and re-season with salt and pepper.
Grill for eight to ten minutes more until golden but not dried out, then remove from the oven and set aside.
While the tofu is grilling, prepare the sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan on a medium/low heat, and gently sauté the garlic and ginger in it for two minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the spices and stir for another minute.
Add the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk and Bragg's to the pan, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat.
Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts to stick, turn the heat down a little and add some more coconut milk or water.
Add the grilled tofu to the sauce and simmer the mixture for a further three minutes. Remove from the heat.
Serve with brown rice, quinoa or millet and garnish each plate with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
In the mood for more delicious vegan Indian recipes like my mouthwatering Butter Spice Tofu? Then try making this Indian saag spinach and tofu cheese paneer! It is incredibly simple to make, but it takes a lot of fresh spinach (saag) to get the right texture and flavor. The tofu substitutes well for the paneer cheese that is commonly used in traditional recipes.
You can also try making this pillowy-soft vegan Indian naan recipe. This version uses coconut yogurt and fast-action yeast to get a good rise.