This is honestly the best vegan tikka masala recipe I’ve ever cooked. I defy any Indian chef to put his or her recipe up against the vegan tikka masala I am about to unleash upon the world! Not that any Indian chef would want to. After all, tikka masala is not really even an Indian dish. It sounds Indian, but it may have actually been invented in Scotland, so there’s that. But best of all, it’s vegan. Here’s how to do a vegan tikka masala recipe my way:

The best vegan tikka masala needs fresh ingredients

If you want the best tikka masala, you’ll want fresh ingredients. While you can use the powdered versions of spices, it will taste fine, but it won’t taste as good. Fresh, fresh, fresh is best. Here is the list of ingredients you will need:

  • 6-8 minced garlic cloves (depending on your taste)
  • 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons masala seasoning
  • 3.5 Tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground, roasted coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground, roasted cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) whole plain vegan yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 pounds (0.9kg) extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 dried Arbol chiles (can substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried pepper flakes)
  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups (500 ml) coconut cream
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped fresh cilantro
  • Spice mixture for tikka masala

Vegan tikka masala recipe spice mixture

You’ll get the best flavor from the coriander and the cumin if you roast the seeds for a minute or two in a hot frying pan. Then, ground them up with a mortar & pestle. Combine the garlic, turmeric, masala, ginger, coriander, and cumin spices in a bowl, as in the picture:

Vegan Tikka masala spice mixture
Vegan tikka masala spice mixture. The scent will haunt your dreams.

Mix half of the spices with the yogurt and add the tofu and salt. Let this stuff sit in your refrigerator for a few hours – at least 3 is good. Like this:

Vegan Tikka masala recipe - tofu in marinade
Raw tofu in marinade. Let it soak in for at least 3 hours

Roasting the tofu

After the tofu has been soaking up the marinade in the refrigerator for at least three hours, remove it and use a slotted spoon to place the tofu on a baking sheet. Keep the marinade that’s left over to use later on. I always use my toaster oven here. You have to roast the tofu for about 30-40 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 400F/200C. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Note: If you decide to use chicken instead of tofu, do not save the marinade. Discard it!

vegan tikka masala - roasting marinated tofu
Roast the marinated tofu in an oven for 30 minutes.

Cooking vegan tikka masala

In a wok or heavy pan, add some oil (coconut or something that can take the heat) and turn it up to high. Heat the oil and add the onions, tomato paste, and smushed cardamom and arbol chiles. Stir for a few minutes and then turn it down to medium and add the rest of the original spices. Stir for another few minutes.

Crush up the tomatoes (if they aren’t already) and add them in, too. Remember, good quality tomatoes are important here. They really contribute a lot of the flavor. Store brand is OK, but for deep flavor, buy the good stuff! Next, add the cream and cilantro, plus the rest of the marinade, and let simmer on low for 40 minutes.

Tikka Masala recipe - ingredients boiling
Combine the ingredients in a pot and bring them to just before a boil.

Add the roasted tofu and simmer for another 10 minutes. Then, serve your delicious vegan tikka masala over basamati rice or regular steamed Jasmine rice.

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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert and has traveled to over 40 countries to date. Currently saving all his money for a Round the World adventure.

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