I've made this recipe for Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala more times than I can remember. This and my Vegan Cheese Stuffed Naan are a match made in heaven and one of my favorite cozy dinners to make when I'm craving take out. It's quite simple to make but does require some extra prep ahead of time so be sure to read through the ingredients to make the time. I'll also share some shortcuts down below that I've done and ended up with a pretty good end result.
Where does Tikka Masala come from?
The origin of Tikka Masala seems to be a big debate. This is a very popular dish all over the world so maybe its true origin will never be known.
The techniques and flavor components are widely used in Indian cuisine and I personally am familiar with chicken tikka masala because it's widely available in Indian American restaurants. I've seen some information floating around the Internet stating that it might've come from Scotland.
Either way, it's a very popular dish similar to the equally famous Butter Chicken. I have both a Butter Tofu and this Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala on the blog.
Tikka masala is more tomato-forward but still creamy while butter chicken is buttery and more on the creamy side. I hope you enjoy my non-traditional vegan spin on Chicken Tikka Masala.
- Extra Firm Tofu or Vegan Chicken
- Tomato Sauce
- Coconut Milk
- Garam Masala
- Onion & Garlic
What vegan chicken should I use?
I used pressed extra firm tofu instead of vegan chicken for this recipe but you could go the extra mile and make your own seitan or use store-bought unbreaded vegan chicken.
If you're using tofu, I recommend pressing the tofu for at least 30 minutes to remove excess water. This will give the tofu a better texture when cooked. The tofu is then marinaded overnight and browned on a stove to crisp up the edges and add to the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes.
Learn more about making the best tofu ever in the Ultimate Guide to Cooking Tofu.
Need a Shortcut?
- Simply marinate the tofu or vegan chicken for at least 1 hour. The flavor won't be as strong as if you marinaded it overnight but it'll still be delicious.
- Skip the marinade all together! Simply toss pressed tofu in some cornstarch and the same seasonings listed and pan-fry until crispy. I use this method a lot and it's very tasty.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I serve this Tikka Masala with?
I always serve mine with basmati rice and cilantro on top as well as cheese-stuffed naan bread. Naan is crucial when making Vegan Tikka Masala. You can even skip the cheese and just make the bread if desired. It's perfect both ways!
Does Tikka Masala contain dairy?
Typically, yes. It's a cream-based tomato sauce and the protein is usually marinaded in yogurt. This recipe is vegan because we are using coconut milk and vegan-friendly yogurt.
Does this have a strong coconut flavor?
Not at all! The coconut milk adds creaminess but the other flavors are far more overpowering and you can't taste the coconut milk.
More Recipes You Might Like:
Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala
- 1 Block of Extra Firm Tofu or Vegan Chicken see above
- 5 oz Container of Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
- 1-2 Garlic Clove minced
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 Medium Sized Onion minced
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 tablespoons Fresh Ginger minced
- 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
- 2 teaspoons Coriander
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Ground Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons Salt more or less to taste
- 1 cup Water or Vegetable Broth
- 15 oz Can Tomato Sauce
- 1 can Full-Fat Coconut Milk
- ½ - 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes optional
- Basmati Rice for serving
- Cilantro for serving
- Lime Wedges for serving
- Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes to remove excess water.
- Whisk together vegan yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, and salt. Toss in pressed extra firm tofu that has been cut in to bite sized chunks or cubes or alternatively use vegan chicken and mix well. Marinate overnight.
- Heat a large saucepan on medium high heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Add the marinated tofu and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium sized pot and add the chopped onion. Cook the onion until soft and starting to brown and then add in the minced ginger and garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Next, add the tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Mix frequently and be careful not to burn.
- Deglaze the pan with the tomato sauce and water/vegetable broth.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the can of coconut milk and cooked tofu. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Taste and add red pepper flakes and more salt if needed.
- Serve Tikka Masala over basmati rice and top with fresh cilantro and squeeze of lime. Enjoy!