Tofu Tikka Masala

Prep Time:
3 Hours
Cook Time:
30 Minutes
January 25, 2023
January 23, 2023

Prepare Ahead

PRO-TIP: Prepare all three parts of this recipe separately, starting with the Tofu marinade. This will allow for fast and easy plating.



400g Extra-Firm Tofu

170g Plain Vegan Yogurt

2 Garlic Cloves (Minced to about 1.5 tsp)

15 mm Fresh Ginger (Minced to about 1 tsp)

2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil

1 heaping tsp Kosher Salt

Tikka Spice Blend*

1 tsp Cumin Seed

2 tsp Coriander Seeds

3 Whole Cloves

15 Whole Black Peppercorns

3 green cardamom pods (Seeds removed and husks discarded)

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

½ Tbsp Fenugreek Leaves

1 tsp Chile powder

1 tsp Ground Turmeric

1 tsp Paprika

½ tsp Ground Ginger

½ tsp Nutmeg (Preferably grated from seed)


1.5 Tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil

1 Tbsp Cumin Seeds

3 Whole Thai Green Chilies (or dried red chilies)

1 Medium Red Onion (Diced)

3 Garlic Cloves (Minced)

15 mm Fresh Ginger (Minced to about 1 tsp)

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ tsp Red Chile Flakes

½ tsp Ground Coriander

2 Tbsp Tomato Paste

350g Fresh Roma Tomatoes (Diced)

12g Cilantro (Separate leaves from the stems and chop separately)

1 tsp Kosher Salt (or to taste)

1 Tbs Garam Masala

1 ½ Tbsp Fenugreek Leaves

220 mL Coconut Milk

2 tsp Vegan Butter

½ tsp Fresh Lemon Juice (or to taste)


  • Prepare the tofu by pressing it and draining it of it's excess liquids. This can be done with a tofu press or between two bowls and using a heavy object to add compression for at least 1 hour.
  • Make the tikka spice blend. Heat a small or medium frying pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the whole spices (cumin and coriander seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, and fenugreek leaves).Toast, shaking the pan frequently, until they are very fragrant and toasty, and the lighter seeds have browned, 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes. Transfer the seeds out of the pan and allow to cool.
  • Once cool, add to a spice grinder or a mortar & pestle and crush until finely ground. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove any large pieces that might be unpleasant to eat. Pour into a bowl with remaining ground spices and set asside.
  • Make the Tikka marinade. In a medium bowl, mix together the spice blend with the yogurt, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, oil, and salt. Pour the marinade over the tofu chunks and use your hands to very gently coat all the crevices of the tofu, taking care to not mash it.Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
  • When ready to bake the tofu, arrange an oven rack 6 inches from the heat source (usually, the second rack). Add a 12-inch cast iron skillet to the rack and preheat the oven to 500ºF/260ºC.Once the skillet is smoking hot, transfer it to the stove or a pot holder. Turn the broiler to high.
  • Add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the marinated tofu to the pan, leaving excess marinade behind. It will be pretty tightly packed into the pan. Return the pan to the second oven rack and broil until the tofu is cooked through and charred in some spots on top, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • NOTE: after the 5-minute mark, I recommend checking every 1-2 minutes to prevent burning since every oven is different.
  • MAKE THE MASALA. Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a deep 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute, swirling the pan frequently. Add the dried chilies and cook for another 30 seconds, swirling frequently to prevent burning.
  • Add the onions with a couple pinches of salt and cook until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes (if the onions start browning too quickly, lower the heat to medium).
  • Add in a few splashes of water to stop the onions from browning too much, then add the garlic, ginger, diced Serrano pepper, and turmeric, and cook for 1 minute, tossing frequently. Add the red chili powder, coriander, and tomato paste. Stir frequently for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices, and cook until broken down and softened, 2 to 3 minutes.Add the cilantro stems (save the leaves for the garnish), 3 tablespoons of water, and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, and stir. Cover the pan and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer the masala for 15 minutes, opening the pot to stir occasionally, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Scoop out the dried red chilies and discard.
  • Add in the coconut milk, garam masala, and vegan butter. Crush the fenugreek leaves in your hand to release the aroma and add to the masala. Increase the heat slightly and stir until everything is combined and the butter is melted.If you prefer a smoother texture, feel free to run an immersion blender through the masala.
  • Add the baked tofu, the thinly sliced Serrano pepper (if using for spicy spicy!), and lemon juice. Simmer for 2 minutes and coat the tofu in the sauce. Taste, and if it’s a bit too acidic, add a tiny bit of sugar (¼ to ½ teaspoon).
  • Garnish the masala with the cilantro leaves and season to taste with salt. Serve tofu tikka masala over rice and/or with Indian flatbread.

Tools and Vessels

Large Deep Skillet for Masala

Large Cast Iron or Black Steel Pan

Spoons and Spatulas

Large Mixing Bowl

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