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Vegan Butter Tofu/ Paneer Makhani

Hey eco-friends, I hope you and your loved ones are all staying safe at home. Seeing as it seems we’ll be in this quarantine period for a while, here’s my recipe made with mostly pantry staples (if you want more pantry recipe ideas, you can always follow my Instagram because I post there daily).

I'm using frozen and thawed tofu here because that gives it a chewier texture, but you don't need to do this if you don't have time. Also, as for most of these recipes, you may use any plant-based protein on hand like white beans, kidney beans, soy curls, or even cauliflower.

It's important to know that most cooking recipes are versatile, and you can experiment. Don't be afraid to use tomatoes instead of tomato paste (if you use more tomatoes), garlic powder instead of garlic, ground ginger instead of ginger... well, you get what I mean.

Let's move on with the recipe.


- 1 block tofu (frozen & thawed)

- 1 tablespoon cornstarch

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or, per taste)

- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

- 1/8 teaspoon red chili powder

- 1/2 cup soaked cashews + 1 cup water

- 1/4 cup tomato paste or 4-5 tomatoes

- 1-2 dry red chiles

- 1" piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

- 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

- 1-2 green chiles, roughly chopped

- 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi – optional, but tastes AMAZING)

- Pinch of hing/asafetida

- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 1 tablespoon vegan butter (or more olive oil)

- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

- a few sprigs of cilantro to garnish


1. To prepare the Tofu:

  • Freeze overnight, and then thaw. Press using something heavy like a cast-iron skillet.

  • Cut into cubes and pour into a large mixing bowl.

  • Sprinkle with the cornstarch. Gently coat all the tofu in the cornstarch.

  • Add in the ground cumin, garam masala, ½ teaspoon salt, and red chili powder. Be careful to not break the tofu while mixing these all together.

  • Arrange tofu on a silicone-lined baking mat and bake at 400°F for about 18-20 minutes.

2. To prepare the Cashew Cream:

  • Soak cashews overnight or boil for 10 minutes, discard the water, and drain.

  • Blend with 1 cup of water until smooth. Pour into another cup.

3. To prepare the Tomato Base:

  • Blend the tomato paste/tomatoes, dry red chiles, ginger, garlic, green chiles, fenugreek leaves, and hing with 1 and 1/2 cups of water until smooth.

4. In a pot on medium heat, pour in the olive oil and butter. After the butter is melted, sprinkle in some the cumin seeds until they release their fragrance.

5. Pour in the tomato base and let it come to a boil. Pour in the cashew cream. Stir to combine and then add in the baked tofu. Put on the lid and cook for about 10 – 12 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

6. Top this with cilantro for garnish and eat with rice, roti, quinoa, or any grain you like. You could even eat this as a soup if you just water it down.

I'm telling you guys... this could not have turned out better. It’s so creamy, spicy, and flavorful. Feel free to add more veggies to the pot if you have some on hand. Make it your own!

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