In this tofu tikka masala recipe, pressed tofu cubes are marinated in a creamy blend of coconut milk and fragrant spices. They are then baked, smashed and simmered in a lush tomato gravy. This dish offers a heavenly aroma and a comforting bowl to dig into at the end of the day.
This recipe was originally published in October 2012 and reposted in January 2023 with updated ingredients, copy, instructions and images.
Making this Tofu Tikka Masala
Time to visit your spice collection! This recipe uses quite a bit of them. Warm and fragrant garam masala, peppery coriander, earthy cumin and neon orange turmeric are all used to create an amazing marinade and luscious tomato gravy. This masala has two parts that are made separately, then unite together in a pot to simmer.
The Tofu Tikka: To make the tofu, you want to first press it well. Follow this tutorial on how to press tofu for this recipe (and any other recipe that uses a marinade for a deeply flavorful tofu!) Once pressed, the tofu will marinate overnight in coconut milk and spices, then baked.
The Masala: This gravy’s base is made with onions, tomatoes and coconut milk. Some warm spices and ginger help to pull everything together, making a deeply aromatic sauce.
Planning this recipe
This recipe takes time to marinate, bake and simmer. Making it a day or two before not only gives you the option to make it at your own pace, but also allows the flavors to mingle and deepen. This Cauliflower and Mushroom Curry is another recipe that tastes so much better a day or two after it’s made! So this can be a “quick reheat-and-eat” weeknight meal with the right planning.
Substitutes for Tofu in this Recipe
If tofu isn’t your thing, you can easily sub other ingredients in its place, like:
Cauliflower: Just chop it into bite-sized florets and give them a quick blanch to soften them up and pat dry before marinating.
Soy Curls: These would be amazing here! To prep soy curls, add them to a pot of boiling water, cover, and allow to rehydrate for about 10 minutes. Pat them dry before placing them into the marinade.
Gardein vegan chicken: Put the frozen pieces into the marinade and place into the refrigerator overnight.
These can be baked until slightly golden on the outside, then added to the masala sauce.
You can also skip the marinating step and just add chickpeas, sautéed and quartered mushrooms, mixed vegetables (sliced carrots and peas are good choices) or a combination of them.
Tofu: To Smash or not to Smash?
In this recipe, I like to bake tofu cubes on one side, flip, then smash with a fork to create irregular pieces. It makes the texture in the dish more interesting. But you can also keep the tofu cubed if you like it that way!
How to serve this recipe
This recipe should of course be served with rice. I used basmati, but any rice you like will do.
Rice hack: how to prevent rice grains from sticking together
If you don’t have time to soak and rinse your rice (and even if you do), add a drizzle of neutral oil to your rice and water before cooking it in your rice cooker. This will prevent the rice from getting clumpy or mushy.
More Tofu Dishes to Try!
Tofu Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Crispy Tofu with Spicy Ginger SaucePrint
Tofu Tikka Masala
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 2 big servings
- Diet: Vegan
This tofu tikka masala offers the perfect balance of tangy tomato, warm fragrant spices and creamy coconut. In this recipe, pressed, marinated, baked then smashed tofu cubes are simmered in a lush tomato gravy. This dish offers heavenly aromas and a big bowl of delicious comfort food!
for the tofu tikka
- ¼ cup canned coconut milk*
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 TB canola or grapeseed oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin seeds
- ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp red chili powder (increase up to 1 tsp if you like spice)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 14-oz. block of tofu, pressed, then cut into 1X1-inch cubes
for the masala
- 2 TB canola or coconut oil
- 2 TB vegan butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ¼ to 1 tsp red chili powder (depending on your heat preference)
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 14 oz. can of chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk, plus more if a creamer end result is desired*
- 1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- cooked basmati rice, for serving
- chopped cilantro, for serving
- vegan naan
- flaky sea salt if desired
- a few extra pinches of garam masala
- sambal (to add more heat if you’d like)
for the tofu tikka
- Place all of the tofu tikka ingredients except for the tofu into a nutribullet or other small blender. Blend until smooth. Taste, and add more salt or spice if you’d like.
- Place the tofu into a plastic container or bag and scrape the marinade over it. Stir or massage the bag to coat the tofu, taking care not to break it. Place it into the refrigerator overnight to marinate.
- To bake the tofu, preheat your oven to 425.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tofu cubes onto it in an even layer, spaced apart.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Flip the tofu over and slightly mash it with a fork to create irregular shapes. You can alternatively leave it whole. Bake 10 minutes more or until the edges are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
for the masala
- Heat the oil and vegan butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, stir and sauté until they develop some color, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger, stir and sauté a bit more, until the ginger is soft.
- In a small bowl, add the coriander powder, paprika, garam masala, red chili powder and turmeric. Stir to combine. Add to the pot and stir until well combined.
- Add in the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add in the canned tomatoes and stir. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.
- Add in 1 cup of the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Add in the baked tofu and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for a few minutes more. Add more coconut milk (½ cup to a full cup), depending on how creamy you like it. Just taste as you go, and add even more coconut milk if you’d like.
- Add the salt. Taste, and add more salt if desired. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes more.
- Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with a little garam masala and salt if desired. Add some sambal on the side if you want some heat. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro.
Serve with basmati rice and vegan naan.
* You’ll use a little less than 2 cans of coconut milk in this recipe. Before using it, whisk it in a big bowl so the texture is even.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: tikka masala, tofu tikka masala, vegan tikka masala, vegetarian tikka masala
Some fantastic finds and gratitude for this week!
We just finished watching Kleo on Netflix. It’s a super stylish revenge thriller and Jella Haase is fantastic as Kleo!
The weather in Boston.
The weather this January has been amazing in Boston! I’ve been so grateful to take Harper out for long walks in just a heavy sweatshirt and yoga pants and not freeze. I’m loving it!
Spot on phenomenal! I will definitely prepare this recipe again! Hanifia
So may I should have read the whole recipe so I could cut down on posts 🙂 Will one can of coconut milk equal 2 cups? Still super excited to make this!!!
2 cups is best, but most cans come in 13.66 oz, so you can probably get away with using just that, good luck!
As far as the habanero goes, do I buy dried peppers and grind them up? We are super excited to make this!!!
Hi Jill, you can use prepared habanero powder here, you can find it in most grocery spice sections — I hope you enjoy!