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Overhead photo of vegan butter chicken in a blue and white dutch oven.
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5 from 11 votes

Vegan Butter Chicken

This north Indian restaurant-style Vegan Butter Chicken is as authentic as can be, with a silky, orange sauce coating cubes of perfectly spiced and grilled tofu. If you're counting calories take heart because this dish is also amazingly healthy with just 187 calories, 8 grams of protein and 10 grams of net carbs in each serving. It's also gluten-free, can easily be made nut-free without losing any of the flavor, and I'll show you how you can further cut down to just 6 net carbs if you're keto.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Time for marinating tofu30 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course/Curry
Cuisine: North Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Vegan Butter Chicken
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 187kcal

Equipment

  • Saucepan or Dutch oven
  • Strainer
  • Grill pan (or oven)

Ingredients

For the tofu tikka marinade

For the butter tofu sauce

  • 2 tablespoon vegan butter (divided)
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 3 tomatoes (cut in a large dice)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • ½ inch knob ginger (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or Kashmiri chili powder)
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)

Instructions

Make the tofu tikka

  • Place tofu slabs in a bowl. Add the ginger garlic paste, lemon juice and vegetable oil and rub it into the tofu. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • In another bowl mix the vegan yogurt, paprika, salt and ground coriander. Mix well and slather the marinade evenly over the tofu slabs. Set aside for another 15 minutes.
  • Heat a grill pan or griddle and brush on oil or coat with cooking spray. Sear the tofu slabs on both sides until grill marks or brown spots appear. When cool enough to handle, cut each slab into eight cubes and set aside.

Make the makhani or butter sauce

  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegan butter in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the spices--cloves, green and black cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves -- and saute for a minute until the bay leaves color slightly.
  • Add the onions and mix, then quickly add in the tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Add ½ cup water, any remaining tofu marinade, pumpkin seeds and/or raw cashews and paprika. Mix, and cover and cook 10 minutes or until the tomatoes get really soft.
  • Remove all the contents of the pan to a blender and carefully, taking necessary precautions because this is all very hot, blend to a smooth paste.
  • Strain the sauce. This is really key to creating a smooth, silky sauce, so don't skip this if you want an authentic experience.
  • Return the strained sauce to the pot, add a cup of water, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.
  • Stir in the maple syrup, kasoori methi, garam masala, tofu cubes and remaining 1 tablespoon vegan butter. Stir in the tofu cubes and add salt if needed.
  • Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Garnish with cilantro if you wish.

Video

Notes

  • To adapt this low-carb recipe to a more restrictive keto diet, make the following modifications, which will bring down net carbs in this recipe to 6 grams, making it suitable for keto eaters: 1. Cut down to 1 tomato and add 2 tablespoon tomato paste instead with 1 additional cup of water. 2. Skip the maple syrup and use any keto-approved sweetener, like erythritol, monk fruit sweetener or stevia. 3. Skip the cashews entirely and use just ½ cup pumpkin seeds instead.
  • To make this dish soy-free, use cauliflower florets instead. Coat them in the marinade and either grill them or bake them in a 425 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until al dente.
  • To make it nut-free: Skip the cashews and use ½ cup pumpkin seeds for the sauce.
  • If you don't have a grill pan, you can use a griddle to roast the tofu.
  • To bake the tofu, place the slabs on a parchment-lined baking sheet side by side and bake 40 minutes. Turn the tofu slabs over halfway through baking. Cube before adding to the sauce.
  • This vegan butter chicken keeps well in the refrigerator for three days. In fact, it tastes even better the next day, so it's a great recipe to make ahead.
  • For longer storage, make the sauce and freeze it in a freezer safe container. Do not freeze the tofu cubes as this will change their texture. I recommend making them up to three days ahead of the time you plan to serve this dish, then thaw and reheat the sauce and mix the tofu in before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 467mg | Potassium: 405mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 846IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg