Try this vegan version of the classic and wildly popular British and Indian dish known as tikka masala that uses tofu in place of chicken or another meat protein.

As with most Indian recipes, there are quite a few spices that go into the perfect recipe. But don't let that stop you from enjoying this dish. If you don't have one or two of them on hand, you can still make it and have a good result.

More important than the spices is to make sure your tofu is well pressed. For an even more flavorful dish, you also can freeze the tofu, thaw it, and then gently press it again.


  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm or extra-firm tofu (well pressed)
  • For the Tofu Marinade:
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) container soy yogurt (vanilla, plain, or lemon flavor; reserve the rest for the tikka sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Vegan Tikka Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or another neutral oil like safflower, canola, or peanut oil)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) container soy yogurt
  • Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this masala dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.
Make the Marinade

    In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 a container of soy yogurt with the oil, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, and salt until well blended. Set aside.

Prepare the Tofu

    Cut the pressed tofu into bite-size cubes and arrange them in a wide shallow pan in a single layer, and cover with the marinade. (You also can place the marinade and the tofu cubes in a plastic zip-lock bag and very gently shake it to make sure the tofu is covered with marinade on all sides.) Allow the tofu to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator.

    Bake tofu at 350 F for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice.

Make the Tikka Sauce and Finish the Dish

    Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Add tomatoes, cumin, paprika, the remaining 1/2 container of the soy yogurt, and, if you have any extra marinade from the tofu, you also can add that to the sauce mixture. Heat until the sauce is well combined and slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

    Add tofu, stirring just until heated through and tofu is well coated in tikka masala sauce. Serve immediately with steamed white rice or basmati rice.


    Pan frying also will work if you're short on time, but it is highly recommended to try baking them for maximum flavor. They will come out of the oven absolutely delicious and you might be tempted to eat them all up then and there, perhaps with some rice or oven-roasted vegetables. But try to resist and finish up making the rest of this recipe.

Indian Food Made Vegan

Since many Hindus in India eat a vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian diet with recipes using grains such as rice and wheat, legumes, green vegetables, and soy products—they are perfect for the adventurous vegan. Exotic spices completely transform what some would consider boring dishes into gifts from the gods. Luckily, there is a plethora of Indian recipes for the vegetarian as well as curries from around the world for the vegan.