Love/hate relationship with tofu? This quick easy Indian tofu curry will change your mind! It’s based on my favorite recipe when I was living in India, paneer makhani, with a few tweaks, to make it vegan and is fabulously simple to make – one-pot, no tofu-pressing, no frying, and ready in roughly half an hour!
You’re going to just make the sauce up in a blender or food processor, add chopped tofu (no need to press it), and chuck a can of coconut milk in and cook it all down for a filling healthy meal.
By first boiling the tofu in the sauce you’ll get soft flavored chunks of tofu in a rich curry sauce, and it’s a much more effective way of flavoring the tofu than marinating it.
I love my tofu soft but if you like it a bit firmer you can take it out of the saucy liquid and zap in the air fryer or oven for 8-15 minutes while the sauce continues to cook, then just add back in for the last five minutes.
You can also add other vegetables too if you fancy, I love a bit of fresh spinach, roasted butternut squash and a handful of garbanzo or cannellini beans thrown in for the last few minutes of cooking.
Swapping paneer out for tofu doesn’t just make it vegan of course, it also vastly decreases the calories in this healthy recipe while maintaining healthy fats and a low carb count, perfect for keto and low-carb diets as well.
If easy and delicious vegan curries are your thing then I highly recommend trying the following recipes as well (I do tend to make a few different curries to serve when we’re eating Indian-style food):
- Chickpea spinach curry (chana palak masala)
- Creamy coconut chickpea curry
- Easy vegan dal makhani
- 25-minute vegan dal tadka
- One-pot vegan tikka masala
(oh and although it’s not an Indian-style recipe, this amazing lemon rice with coconut goes so well with curries!)
Although this Indian tofu curry is so easy to make it practically makes itself, there are a few tips, tricks and substitutions you might want to keep in mind.
- Full-fat milk will yield the tastiest creamiest curry but if you’re watching your waistline low-fat coconut milk will be perfectly fine as well. For a really decadent curry you could substitute the coconut milk with coconut cream.
- If you really hate tofu… 1) I’m not sure how you got here! 2) you can substitute out the tofu for any other protein such as soy curls, TVP, seitan, tempeh, or legumes.
- Feel free to add whatever veggies you choose, although I would suggest parboiling harder vegetables such as potatoes and adding them in with the coconut milk. Fast-cooking vegetables like frozen peas or already cooked veggies can go in 2-3 minutes before the cooking time is up.
- You can use either water or vegetable stock but as usual, I really recommend the stock as it gives a lot more depth of flavor.
- You can use either crushed or chopped canned tomatoes, it doesn’t really matter as you’ll be blending everything anyway.
- Use a high-quality tofu, extra-firm if you can get it, if not, firm will do.
Like most curries, the best pairing for this yummy tofu curry is with good soft naan bread and rice. I love it with my lemon coconut rice recipe, basmati rice, brown rice etc. but really any rice would go well with it.
For those avoiding rice or following a low-carb diet, cauliflower rice or shirataki rice will also complement your curry perfectly. For those who are really dedicated you could even serve it with a leafy salad (this I’m not a fan of even though I’ve seen it done).
Naan (especially garlic naan) is my favorite but really any flatbread or some homemade roti would go well, or even some crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce!
Of course, you can also choose to skip the bread altogether and have it just over rice, which does simplify things I’ll admit.
This recipe has loads of tasty sauce, depending on how much you cook it down, so it’s also great as a kind of curry-stew over couscous, quinoa, noodles or baked potato slices.
Believe it or I’ve also baked some leftovers with cubed potatoes in hand pies and they were delicious!
As with most recipes that have Indian-style flavors, a sprinkling of fresh finely chopped cilantro over it will really finish this curry off.
What with this recipe being possibly the easiest tofu curry ever I’m not even sure you need instructions but I’ve included them here anyway.
Do check out the progress photos before starting to cook or if you have any doubts while following the recipe to avoid any issues, and drop me a line below in the comments or via the contact form if you have any queries.
Basically….get all your ingredients together. Peel the onion and chop into 4-6 pieces, peel the garlic and ginger, chop the chili pepper into 4-5 pieces, and add to the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender. Measure and add the crushed or chopped tomatoes, and your spices (ground cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and cayenne), as in photo number one below.
Blend as much as possible, then add the vegetable stock (or water) 1/4 cup at a time, blending or processing in between each addition. You should have a very smooth watery end product (see photo number two below).
Pour into a medium-sized pot. Chop the tofu. If you’re using extra-firm tofu go a small as you’d like, with just firm tofu I’d stick to cubes that are at least 1.5 cm dice. The smaller the tofu cubes the better they’ll absorb all the tasty goodness of the sauce…
Add the chopped tofu to the pot. The liquid in the pot should just about cover the tofu as in photo number three above (if not you may need to use a smaller pot). Bring to the boil and then reduce to medium-high heat to maintain at a lively simmer for ten minutes.
The liquid will have reduced slightly (see photo number four above) but not much.
Now you choose whether you’d like soft tofu in your curry or crispier tofu. I encourage you to actually test one of the cubes as you’ll find that boiling it really gives it a better taste and texture.
If you’re happy with your tofu the way it is, process to the steps below (adding in the coconut milk).
If you still want crispy tofu, remove the tofu with a slotted spatula and either airfry at 375F (190C) for 8 minutes, shaking halfway, or pop into a 390F (200C) oven on a tray covered with baking paper for around 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
These methods don’t require any oil. If you want really super crispy tofu you can roll the slightly damp tofu in cornflour and fry in some oil. Whichever method you choose, you should add the tofu back in for the last five minutes of cooking the sauce.
Whether you’ve left the tofu in or not, add in the coconut milk (image number five below) and allow to cook for 19 minutes more on medium-high heat or until the sauce has been reduced enough to your liking (image number six shows reduction at 19 minutes).
If you had removed the tofu you should add it back in around the 16-minute mark so it can absorb some more sauce.
(It’s fairly impossible to over-simmer tofu so if you’d like less liquid don’t be afraid to let it reduce longer. Personally, I’m a fan of lots of thick sauce)
Add in two teaspoons of sugar (yes, really), 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and between 1/2 – 1.5 teaspoons of garam masala, stir well (being careful not to break the tofu), and cook one minute more.
You’re going to have to trust me on the sugar, I’m not a huge fan of adding sugar to anything but it really does elevate this tofu curry, and it’s so low-calorie that you can afford a few extra grams of carbohydrates.
Of course, you can always leave the sugar out and it will still taste good but it won’t taste restaurant-style-quality good.
For the garam masala, if you like it hot with a strong curry flavor add 1.5 teaspoons, for a milder less strong curry add 1/2 teaspoon, and for a happy medium add one!
Serve garnished with chopped cilantro. Done! Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian), I love seeing all your creations and presentation!
- 1 onion
- 1-inch piece ginger
- 1 red or green chili pepper
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1.25 cups crushed/chopped canned tomatoes (300ml)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4.-½ tsp cayenne (depending on spice tolerance level)
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock
- 9oz (255g) extra-firm or firm tofu (drained weight)
- 1 cup coconut milk (250ml)
- 1/2 - 1.5 tsp garam masala (optional)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Handful cilantro leaves to serve (optional)
1. Peel and chop the onion and ginger into several pieces. Peel the garlic cloves. Chop the chili pepper into several pieces. Add to the bowl of a high-powered blender or food processor.
2. Add the canned tomatoes and the spices (cumin, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne) and process until as smooth as possible. Then add the water/stock 1/4 cup at a time and process after each addition until you have a smooth watery tomato stock.
3. Add to a small-medium pot and chop the tofu to small dice or the size you prefer (extra-firm can be chopped to a smaller size than firm) and add to the same pot.
4. Set on high heat until boiling then reduce slightly so it doesn't bubble over. Cook ten minutes.
5. If you wish to crisp your tofu you can remove it with a spatula and use one of the methods in the notes, but it's not necessary if you want a softer tofu curry.
6. With or without the tofu still in the sauce, add the coconut milk and cook for (tofu should be added back in at minute 16 if removed) 19 minutes, bubbling away until reduced. If you would like to reduce the sauce further maintain on the same heat for a few minutes more until reduced to your liking.
7. Add the sugar, salt, and garam masala (1/2 tsp for a milk curry flavor, 1 for a medium, and 1.5tsp for a strong flavor). Cook one minute more.
8- Take off the heat, finely chop the cilantro and sprinkle over. Serve.
Optionally to crisp up the tofu you can remove it and either
1) Air-fry at 375F (190C) for 8 minutes shaking halfway through.
2) Oven-bake on baking paper at 390F (200C) for 10-15 minutes flipping tofu halfway through.
3) Coat damp tofu with cornflour and fry in oil until crisp to your liking.
Amount Per Serving Calories 184Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 565mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 3gSugar 6gProtein 5g