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 flavour. If you’re looking for a hearty and comforting dinner that will leave you feeling warm and satiated, this Vegan Butter Spice Tofu is for you! 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 everyday!
Feel free to use your choice of tofu, but be aware that firm is just that: firm! As a result, it doesn’t soak up as much of the sauce as a medium firm tofu would. Serve this dish with whatever you love, but personally I love having it with brown rice, millet or quinoa to boost the nutrient content. I also love to add a garnish of something green to the dish. In this case both cilantro and parsley work really well and don’t take away from the flavour too much!
Vegan Butter Spice Tofu (gluten-free)
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)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 heaped tsp turmeric
- 1 heaped tsp coriander
- 4 tsp garam masala spice
- 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
- Chopped cilantro
- 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 8-10 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 2 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 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Serve with brown rice, quinoa or millet and garnish each plate with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
- 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. This post is not sponsored by them in any way, I just really like some of their products.)