This vegan butter chicken recipe contains chunks of tempeh and cauliflower smothered in a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce.
It takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish and is naturally gluten-free. This recipe makes a single serving but can easily be adapted for larger batches.
Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani was the first dish I’ve tried at an Indian restaurant. And I’ve had it very often before becoming vegan. Eventually, I learnt to make this dish at home which immediately became a favourite in my family.
As with many popular dishes, vegan or non-vegan, it’s the unique combination of spices that makes them so irresistible. Butter chicken was no exception and the same goes for this vegan version.
The tasty blend of Indian spices is key to creating that flavourful sauce that you will be tempted to smother on everything. This is one of those dishes that will keep your family coming back for more. I’ll be sharing with you all the details.
Main Ingredients used in Vegan Butter Chicken
Cauliflower – Fresh or frozen cauliflower can be used in this recipe.
Tempeh – Tempeh is similar to tofu but it’s made from whole, fermented soybeans. It can also be made from chickpeas, black beans or even hemp seeds.
It easy to flavour and has a firmer texture than tofu. I went into more details about why tempeh is so great in my Vegan Tempeh Bacon Sandwich post.
Indian spices – The Indian spices are the star of this recipe. They include garam masala, turmeric, cumin, anise, cardamom and chilli powder.
Tomatoes – Traditional Butter Chicken recipes use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. This gives the dish the best flavour and provides acidity to balance the creaminess of the dish.
I’ve also made vegan butter chicken using tomato paste which was fine as a substitute. I’d recommend using canned if that’s all you have available.
However, try not to use sweetened tomato or pasta sauce. This dish is meant to be more savoury than sweet.
Coconut milk – Coconut milk adds the richness and creaminess this dish needs. You can also use soy or cashew milk.
How to make Vegan Butter Chicken with Cauliflower and Tempeh
(Full measurements in the recipe card below)
1. In a small bowl, combine garam masala, turmeric and cumin.
2. Cut tempeh into cubes and add to a bowl.
3. Thaw frozen cauliflower and drain properly or rinse fresh, chopped cauliflower. Add to the bowl with tempeh and season with 2 teaspoons of the spice blend.
4. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons oil and add tempeh and cauliflower. Cook until brown.
5. Add ginger, garlic, cardamom, chilli and remaining spices. Toast until fragrant then add tomato purée.
6. Next, stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper. Ensure that you pick up the flavourful bits at the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and cook until it thickens for 2 minutes.
7. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.
More curry recipes worth trying:
Vegan Butter Chicken Recipe with Cauliflower and Tempeh (Gluten-free!)
- 3.5 oz tempeh, cubed (100g)
- 8 frozen or fresh cauliflower florets
- 2 tbsps oil
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsps garam masala
- 1 tsps turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp red chilli powder, (might be spicy)
- 3 small tomatoes, pureed
- 1 cup coconut milk, (236 ml)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
- In a small bowl, combine garam masala, turmeric and cumin.
- Cut tempeh into cubes and add to a bowl.
- Thaw frozen cauliflower and drain properly or rinse fresh, chopped cauliflower. Add to the bowl with tempeh and season with 2 teaspoons of the spice blend.
- Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons oil and add tempeh and cauliflower. Cook until brown. Add ginger, garlic, cardamom, chilli and remaining spices. Toast until fragrant then add tomato purée.
- Next, stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper. Ensure that you pick up the flavourful bits at the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and cook until it thickens for 5 minutes.
- Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.
- If you can’t have coconut milk, try using soy or cashew milk.
- More curry recipes: Vegan Thai Red Curry with Tofu, Jamaican Tofu Curry (Vegan Curried “Chicken” Recipe)
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