This Tofu Makhani is a veganized version of a traditional Indian dish. It takes time, and a lot of spices, but man is it worth it. The sauce is so rich and flavorful, and the baked tofu comes across as paneer. The gluten-free naan is just as good as naan made with flour. In a hurry? Skip the bread and just serve tofu makhani over rice.
Makhani is an Indian word meaning “with butter”. Most sources say that this dish originated in Delhi, the capital of India sometime in the 1950s. The story goes that cooks mixed leftover marinade juices with butter and tomato, and stewed chicken in it. It was cooked tandoori style; in circular clay ovens.
The dish is without question the most popular dish to emerge from India. The mildly spicy, creamy, savory flavor makes it more than just delicious, but accessible to almost every palate.
Naan bread has been around much longer than Makhani. It is is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread found in the cuisines mainly of Western Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Myanmar and the Caribbean. Traditionally, it is made with white flour, yeast, yogurt, and, you guessed it, more butter. It is then cooked on the sides of the tandoor ovens.
This veganized recipe combines traditional spices for the unique flavor and aroma characteristic of this dish. The substitutions of vegan butter and coconut milk preserve the rich creaminess of the dish, while eliminating some of the calories and side effects of dairy products.
If you have never made gluten-free bread, this naan bread is a great one to start with. The dough is forgiving, and pan frying is much more approachable than baking or filling a dough. Chickpea flour is relatively fine, so the bread is not grainy, and frying it in coconut oil is not only simple, it results in a soft, chewy bread perfect for sopping up the Makhani sauce.
This dish is hearty and filling served with naan bread. If you prefer, try it served over perfectly cooked, hot rice.
14 oz. firm tofu, drained and wrapped in a clean towel for 20 minutes
1/2 inch knob of ginger, grated on a microplane
4 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
Juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped, or 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 inch piece ginger, grated on a microplane
1 mild green chili, diced, divided
1/2 cup coconut milk, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar
1/4 inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
Cilantro, for garnish
Basmati rice, cooked to package instructions
1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons raw coconut sugar, finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 cup warm tap water
Coconut oil for frying