Malai Tofu Curry – Vegan Malai Paneer


Malai Tofu – a simple Indian weeknight curry with tofu “paneer” in a thick spiced tomato coconut milk sauce. Serve with naan and/or rice for a delicious plant-based dinner. Soy-free option included.

overhead shot of a serving of malai tofu curry served with a side of quartered naan

This quick vegan malai Tofu curry is my spin on a regular restaurant-style creamy Paneer malai.  Another one to add to the options for Diwali! The word “malai” means cream and while traditionally, heavy cream is used for the cream component of the dish, I use coconut milk in this recipe. The sauce usually has some texture from soaked nuts and I use almond flour for the added texture which reduces all the steps for soaking and then blending the nuts. Another difference from the restaurant favorite would be that this recipe uses pan-fried tofu instead of paneer cheese to make this dairy-free. Crisped extra firm tofu is a great stand in in the delicious sauce!

Indian malai tofu curry with coconut cream in a sauteeing pan

Indian cooking isn’t hard once you get to set yourself up with all the required spices and this recipe is especially simple.  Tofu is so forgiving and there are no delicate veggies added so no need to be careful about overcooking anything. This meal is also great for making ahead of time.

I like to use extra-firm tofu for this malai tofu recipe and press it for an half an hour before cooking. If you want, you can even press overnight. Simply wrap the tofu in a towel and place a heavy object on top to press.

Once your tofu is pressed and cut into cubes, coat it with a mix of cornstarch, garam masala, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and then pan fry to crisp.

tofu malai curry drizzled with coconut cream served with a side of naan bread

More Restaurant Style dishes from the blog

tofu malai curry served with rice and bread

Print Recipe

Malai Tofu ( Vegan Malai Paneer)

Malai Tofu – a simple Indian weeknight curry with tofu in a thick spiced tomato coconut milk sauce. Serve with naan and/or rice for a delicious plant-based dinner. Soy-free option included.

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time30 mins

Total Time45 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Indian

Keyword: creamy tofu curry, tofu malai curry

Servings: 4

Calories: 416kcal

Author: Vegan Richa

Ingredients

  • 14 ounce (396.89 g) firm or extra firm tofu pressed for 15 minutes and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter or oil
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or 2 teaspoons paste
  • 1 inch ginger minced or 2 teaspoons ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a good pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) tomate paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
  • 15 ounce can (425.24 g) full-fat coconut milk reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut cream for garnish, or use cashew milk
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour
  • cilantro and pepper flakes for garnish

Instructions

  • Press and cube your tofu if you haven’t already then add to a bowl. Sprinkle the Garam masala, garlic powder, starch and oil and toss well to coat.

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil then add your coated tofu and cook until it is crisped and golden on most of the edges. Remove from the pan and set aside

Make the sauce.

  • Heat butter in the same skillet. Then add onion and a good pinch of salt and mix.Cook until the onions start to turn translucent.

  • Add in your garlic and ginger and mix well and continue to cook until the onion is evenly golden and the garlic and ginger are cooked.

  • Add in the spices, bay leaves, and another good pinch of salt and mix well.

  • Then add in your tomato paste, sugar, remaining salt, and mix well. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to help the tomato paste mix in.

  • Then cook until there’s a sheen of oil on the tomato-onion mixture. It will take 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Then add in your almond flour and coconut milk and mix in. Bring it to a boil to mix all of the spices and tomato paste into the coconut milk.

  • Add in your crisped tofu. Mix gently then bring to a good simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

  • Taste and adjust salt and flavor then take off heat.Garnish with the reserved coconut cream drizzled all over then cilantro and pepper flakes. You can also use cashew cream for the garnish or blended-up silken tofu.

Notes

Soyfree: To make this without soy, use 1 can of chickpeas and skip the crisping step.
You can also use roasted vegetables in the sauce to make it soy-free.
Nut-free: omit them almond flour 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Malai Tofu ( Vegan Malai Paneer)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 416
Calories from Fat 315

% Daily Value*

Fat 35g54%

Saturated Fat 18g113%

Sodium 443mg19%

Potassium 546mg16%

Carbohydrates 18g6%

Fiber 4g17%

Sugar 6g7%

Protein 14g28%

Vitamin A 391IU8%

Vitamin C 13mg16%

Calcium 190mg19%

Iron 6mg33%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Ingredients:

  •  firm or extra firm tofu pressed for 15 minutes and cubed
  •  Garam masala and garlic powder
  • a dusting of cornstarch or tapioca starch created a crispy layer around the tofu cubes
  • For the sauce onions, garlic and ginger are sauteed in vegan butter to create the gravy
  • as for spices, we add a fragrant blend of ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, bay leaves
    and cinnamon
  • tomato paste is added for umami along with some sugar to balance out the acidity
  • full-fat coconut milk lends the gravy its thickness and silky texture. Make sure to reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons of the coconut cream for garnish. You can also use cashew milk instead of coconut milk
  • almond flour  is used as a thickener as well as for texture in the sauce
  • I use cilantro and pepper flakes for garnish but fresh chopped mint or even some chopped nuts will be amazing

Tips:

  • To make this curry without soy, use 1 can of chickpeas and skip the crisping step
  • You can also use roasted vegetables in the sauce to make it soy-free
  • frozen peas (matar) are another great addition. Just stir them in in the end.

ingredients needed for making tofu malai

How to make Malai Tofu Curry:

tofu cubes being fried in a sauteeing pan

Press and cube your tofu if you haven’t already then add to a bowl. Sprinkle the Garam masala, garlic powder, starch and oil and toss well to coat.

tofu cubes being sauteed in a s frying pan

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil then add your coated tofu and cook until it is crisped and golden on most of the edges. Remove from the pan and set aside

onion sliced in a black sauteeing pan

Make the sauce. Heat butter in the same skillet. Then add onion and a good pinch of salt and mix. Cook until the onions start to turn translucent.

garlic and onion in a black sauteeing pan

Add in your garlic and ginger and mix well and continue to cook until the onion is evenly golden and the garlic and ginger are cooked.

onion and garlic being tempered with spices in a black skillet

Add in the spices, bay leaves, and another good pinch of salt and mix well.

Then add in your tomato paste, sugar, remaining salt, and mix well.

tomato paste being added to onion garlic mix in a sauteeing pan

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to help the tomato paste mix in.

Then cook until there’s a sheen of oil on the tomato-onion mixture. It will take 2 to 3 minutes.

coconut milk, tomato paste and spice mix in a black frying pan

Then add in your almond flour and coconut milk and mix in. Bring it to a boil to mix all of the spices and tomato paste into the coconut milk.

gravy for Indian Tofu Malai curry in a black skillet

Add in your crisped tofu. Mix gently then bring to a good simmer.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

pan-fried tofu cubes in a black frying pan

Taste and adjust salt and flavor then take off heat.

tofu malai curry with coconut milk gravy

Garnish with the reserved coconut cream drizzled all over then cilantro and pepper flakes.

If you don’t have any coconut cream left, you can also use cashew cream for the garnish or even blended-up silken tofu.

Indian Malai Tofu curry with naan bread on a white plate



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