Healthy Vegan Butter Tofu Curry With Lentils simmered in spicy tomato sauce with creamy dairy-free yogurt to make this flavorful Indian-inspired vegan curry.
This recipe is a mish-mosh of a couple of dishes sitting on my to-make list for a while. I wanted to do a vegan version of Indian butter lentils (dal makhani) and Indian butter chicken (chicken makhani) or paneer, which is easier to replicate than chicken.
I’ve done a few creamy, tomatoey Indian curries at this point using cashews or coconut milk for the creamy part. This time around I decided to try something different, and this brings me back to that whole rant on “oh there’s so much more vegan food available these days…you kids don’t know how good you have it.” My ingredient of choice: vegan yogurt.
Most supermarkets have had some vegan yogurt in stock for a few years, and by some, I mean like one brand and one flavor that’s usually sugary and fruity.
I’m happy to say that at some point in the last year or so there seems to have been a vegan yogurt explosion. I can find all kinds of flavors now, at all kinds of stores, including plain, which is really the flavor I wanted most.
I love that this recipe uses yogurt because there’s no blending involved. Any day I can skip busting out the blender is a good day indeed. Also, it makes the sauce really rich and creamy.
If you can’t find the yogurt needed for this I’ll bet some coconut cream would work instead.
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Healthy Vegan Butter Tofu Curry With Lentils
- 1/2 cup/100g whole brown/green lentils
- 1/4 cup/55 vegan butter divided
- 1 14 ounces package extra-firm tofu drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 serrano pepper seeded and minced optional, omit for a milder version
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2-3 teaspoons garam masala to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 14 ounce/400g can/tin crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup/240ml of vegetable broth
- 2/3 cup 5.3-ounce container plain non-dairy yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh cilantro
- Cooked basmati rice for serving optional
- Place the lentils into a small saucepan and cover with about 3 inches of water. Place over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Allow cooking until the lentils are tender. This will take about 30 minutes less for other varieties. Drain any excess water when the lentils are done cooking.
- Meanwhile, coat the bottom of a medium pot with 2 tablespoons of vegan butter. Place over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the tofu and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice, until the cubes are browned on multiple sides. Remove the tofu from the pot and transfer it to a plate.
- Add the remaining vegan butter to the pot and allow it to melt. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the serrano pepper, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cardamom. Sauté for about 1 minute more, until very fragrant. Return the tofu to the pot and stir in the crushed tomatoes, broth, and sugar. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Allow cooking until the sauce thickens up a bit, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lentils and yogurt. Allow cooking another minute or two, just until heated throughout. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any other seasonings to your liking.
- Divide the tofu and lentils onto plates and top with a sprinkle of cilantro. Serve with basmati rice.