Vegetarian Butter Tofu

Soft tofu, which is similar to the Indian cheese paneer, makes for a vegetarian-friendly variation on the traditional Indian butter chicken recipe. This main course dish features a delightfully spiced tomato cream sauce.

Vegetarian Butter Tofu
Photo: © Kristen Stevens
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
35 mins


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or ghee

  • 2 medium onions, finely minced

  • Sea salt

  • 3 tablespoons finely grated ginger

  • 5 garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • Seeds from 4 cardamom pods

  • One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • 9 ounces soft tofu, cut into bite-size cubes 

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons almond butter

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil or ghee over medium high heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of sea salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are medium brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add all of the spices and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

  2. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and begins to splatter.

  3. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to cool for a couple minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend for 1 minute, or until very smooth (see Note).

  4. Return the sauce to the pan and stir in the tofu over low heat until it is warm. Remove from the heat and stir through the brown sugar, almond butter and cream. Season with salt to taste.


If you are using a regular blender (instead of a high-speed blender) and you want a very smooth sauce, simply strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve after you blend it.

Serve With

Basmati rice and naan if desired.

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