A recipe for vegan Kadai Tofu "Paneer" that's lip-smackingly delicious and nutritious. Cubes of tofu are dunked in a creamy Indian style tomato sauce, soaking in all of the spice and flavor. A vegan and gluten-free recipe that's ready in under 30 minutes.
If you've been here for a while, you know that I love tofu, especially in flavor-loaded dishes like crispy Air Fryer Tofu, Mango-Chipotle-Glazed Tofu, Lemon-Glazed Tofu and Chilli Tofu.
Another one of my favorite recipes to make with tofu is this vegan Kadai Tofu Paneer, where the tofu stands in for the Indian cottage cheese, paneer.
Paneer looks a lot like tofu but has a flavor and mouthfeel that's creamier, like cottage cheese. But tofu makes a good substitute in most Indian dishes calling for paneer, especially when there's a flavorful sauce that it can soak up, and I love using this technique in recipes like Palak Tofu "Paneer" and Chili Tofu.
When substituting paneer, use extra-firm tofu, with as much water pressed out of it as possible, but of late I've really been loving this high-protein tofu at Trader Joe's that's very firm and holds its shape beautifully in saucy dishes. That's what I used in my Kadai Tofu "Paneer."
A "kadai" is an Indian wok, and when you see a dish labeled with this prefix, you can be sure it's a stir-fry or saute of vegetables or meat sauteed in a wok with spices, not unlike the balti cuisine of England. You should make this recipe in a wok, although if you don't have one, a large saucepan would work too.
This is an incredibly simple dish: all you need to do is saute tomatoes, add a few onions or shallots with ginger and spices, and then finish it off with the tofu cubes. It took me under 30 minutes to make, and the best part is, you really don't need anything special to serve it with. Rice or roti or naan all work, or you can even serve it with a good bread, like a sourdough.
The recipe for the "kadai" spice mix makes enough to last you at least for two uses, so you can make some and store the rest in an airtight jar for another use.
I can also certify this is a kid-friendly and kid-approved recipe. Jay couldn't have enough of it, and he especially loved the tofu cubes, which was quite something because in the past getting tofu down his gullet has been a challenge.
If you try this recipe, be sure to let me know how it turned out for you.
More Indian tofu recipes
- Oven-blackened Tandoori Tofu
- Tofu Tikka Masala
- Tofu "Egg" Curry
- Tofu Curry
- Tofu Makhani
- Vegan Butter Chicken
Kadai Tofu "Paneer"
- 14 oz high protein tofu (or extra firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes. If using extra-firm tofu, press out all the water you can by swaddling the tofu block in paper towels and placing it in a colander with a weight on top. Leave it for at least an hour to drain out most of the water from the tofu.
- 3 large tomatoes (diced)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoon cilantro (coriander leaves, chopped)
- 1-inch piece ginger (grated or julienned)
- 2 shallots (sliced)
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 heaping tsp garam masala powder
- ¼ cup raw cashews (blended with ½ cup water to make cashew cream)
For spice mix:
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 dry red chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
- In a skillet, dry-roast the spice mix ingredients: the coriander seeds, dry chili pepper, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, until a couple of shades darker and fragrant. Remove to a spice grinder or blender and process to a coarse powder. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok or a large saucepan. Add the cumin seeds and when they start to turn color, add the tomatoes. Saute the tomatoes until they are fully mashed and pulpy.
- Add the ginger, shallots and cilantro along with the coriander powder and garam masala powder and continue to saute for another five minutes. Add in the tofu cubes and 1 tablespoon of the prepared spice mix and mix well.
- Add the cashew cream and stir to mix. Check for salt. Let the sauce come to a boil, then turn off the heat. If you want a saucier sauce, add more water or vegetable stock to get it to the consistency you like.
Thanks for this yummy-looking recipe. I'm a lover of coriander seed, so I look forward to trying your corianderfull recipe next time I have tomatoes.
Made the dish this morning. Tasted lovely however it doesn’t look like your fish. I used 3 red Roma tomatoes but they were not soft tomatoes so I guess the color did not hold.
No Trader Joe's nearby us here, so I tried this with frozen/thawed/pressed extra firm tofu. It has a chewier texture and sops up the flavor - and liquids - so, likewise, I needed to add more liquid (veg broth). It's delicious! And it makes a ton, so this is a good one to share or enjoy for leftovers. I also agree with cutting up the tofu into smaller pieces - its a better compliment to the dish, especially using the frozen style. A small amount of cashews goes a long way! Love that!
margaret van Haren
It was delicious!!!
Will certainly make it again ( I probably would make the cubes very small and put some salt on the tofu next time).
As Always: Thanks Vaishali!
i always enjoy your recipes!!!
The biggest find from this recipe is the Trader Joe's tofu. It's wonderfully chewy, right out of the package. I will be using this for all my tofu dishes now!!
I made this with exactly half the amount of ingredients and found the gravy quantity to be far too less for the tofu I added. The taste was great, but was a little bland because the gravy ratio was off. I will try again with the full recipe for everything but the tofu and see how it goes.
About how many pounds of tomatoes.
3 large doesn’t say much especially when
we’re at the height of tomato season.
Use about a pound of tomatoes. It doesn't have to be exact.
Could you please clarify the cashew cream in step #4?
Hi Holly, added now-- thanks.
How much cashew cream or coconut milk?
1/4 cup cashews blended with 1/2 cup water. You can sub with 1/2 cup coconut milk.
Cashew cream is not in your ingredients list - how much should we use?
1/4 cup cashews blended with 1/2 cup water, added, thanks!