Tofu Makhani with Naan Bread


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.

Tofu Makhani with Naan Bread

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.

Make it a Meal

This dish is hearty and filling served with naan bread. If you prefer, try it served over perfectly cooked, hot rice.


Tofu Makhani with Naan Bread

Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield:6 servings


For the Tofu

14 oz. firm tofu, drained and wrapped in a clean towel for 20 minutes

1/2 teaspoon each of garam masala, paprika, salt, and turmeric

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

For the Makhani

1 tablespoon vegan butter

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

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

For the Naan Bread

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

3 cups Bob’s Red Mill chickpea and fava bean flour

Coconut oil for frying


For the Tofu

  1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine garam masala, paprika, salt, turmeric, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and grapeseed oil.
  3. Remove tofu from towel and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add tofu to marinade and stir to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes. Place on parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

For the Makhani

  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat, add vegan butter, and melt. Add garlic, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Cook for about 2 minutes, until garlic is golden.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine tomato, ginger, and half of diced green chili. Puree with an immersion blender.
  3. Add tomato mixture to skillet and cook until the puree starts to thicken, about 3 minutes. Then add coconut milk.
  4. Add garam masala, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine, and add in spices, fenugreek leaves, salt and sugar and mix well. Add water to thin if needed.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
  6. Fold in the baked tofu. Simmer for a minute. Mix in julienned ginger and remaining half of green chili.
  7. Serve over basmati rice and alongside naan; recipe follows. Garnish with cilantro and additional coconut milk.

For the Naan Bread

  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, salt, milk and water and stir until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble.
  3. Add the flour and stir/work with hands until it’s a kneadable consistency. Add more flour, a little at a time, as necessary to make the dough workable and not too sticky.
  4. Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough. Roll this out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until the dough is about 6-8 inches in diameter. The smaller you make it the thicker it will be, but it will take longer to cook.
  5. Add about 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the rolled dough to the pan. Fry for about 2 minutes, or until golden. Repeat with remaining dough rounds.
  6. Serve warm.

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