Tofu Tikka Masala

Updated: January 19, 2024, By Swasthi

Tofu Tikka Masala is a hearty meal, loaded with authentic Indian flavors! Overnight marinated and baked Tofu Tikka is served with a delicious and creamy masala (sauce). Fragrant, a little rich and a bit spicy makes this tikka masala, the super star of curries!
Serve it over fluffy Basmati Rice or with Parathas, Butter Naan or Tandoori roti.

Tofu Tikka Masala

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About Tofu Tikka Masala

This recipe is inspired from the classic Tikka Masala. But meat is replaced with Tofu for a vegetarian/vegan option. Traditionally over-night marinated protein is roasted in a tandoor, a clay oven.

A tandoor can go as high as 900F/ 480C and cooks the foods at high temperatures resulting in a slightly charred exterior and moist interior. During this process the fats from the marinade drip into the hot oven and emit smokes.

So tandoori foods have charred spots and are super tender from inside with a significant smoky flavor. To make a tikka masala, a spicy sauce is made and into that goes these tandoor baked tikkas (cubes/pieces).

To make this Tofu Tikka Masala, you can either bake marinated tofu in the oven, air fry or pan fry on the stovetop. The Tikkas are so delicious and can also be served as an appetizer. Since tofu is marinated over-night, it is full-flavored and tastes delicious!

Tofu Tikka in Oven

The masala is not super spicy or hot like the classic version and we felt it did not require because tofu is marinated with generous amount of spices. For the vegetarian tikka, onions and bell peppers (in the skewers) are the key and they add another layer of flavors.

The char grilled onions and bell peppers in the restaurant tikkas are simply superb and they totally elevate the flavors. For the restaurant style, I have used them in this recipe. However if you do not prefer bell peppers, simply replace with thinly sliced carrots.

More recipes,
Indian Tofu Kadai
Tofu Curry
Butternut Squash Curry
Chickpea curry

Photo Guide

How to Make Tofu Tikka Masala (Stepwise Photos)

This recipe serves 2 to 3. You will find more quantities in the pictures since I made 2x recipe.

Preparation – Marinade

For best results, freeze extra firm tofu for 2 days and then defrost in the refrigerator. Drain the water, rinse & shake off. Wrap the tofu in kitchen towels, gently press down to remove any excess moisture, weigh it down with a cast iron skillet for 10 mins. Then dice them to 1 inch to make 9 portions. If you want to pan fry the tikkas, make thin slices of larger sizes.

1. You will require the following ingredients for Tofu Tikka:

  • 200 grams (7 ounces) extra firm pressed tofu (cubed to 9 pieces)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger paste or grated (or use 1 tsp ginger garlic paste)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste or minced/crushed
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice (omit if your yogurt is sour)
  • ¼ cup thick yogurt (dairy or plant, has to be thick enough to hold the tofu)
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or smoked paprika (less spicy kind)
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon chaat masala (or ¼ tsp ground cumin & ¼ tsp amchur)
  • ½ teaspoon Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ½ tablespoon oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste, as per your tofu)
ingredients to marinate tofu

2. Mix together all the ingredients except tofu. Taste test and adjust salt, depending on your tofu.

spiced yogurt marinade known as tandoori marinade

3. Remove 2 tbsps of marinade to a small bowl and add the tofu to the rest of the marinade. Gently coat them and spread in a single layer. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours and maximum 12 hours.

marinated tofu

4. These are the ingredients you need to make the tikka masala:

  • 2 inch cinnamon piece
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 cup onion sliced, loosely measured – (80 g, 1 medium) 
  • 1¾ cups tomatoes sliced/ chopped – (225 g, 2 medium) 
  • ⅓ inch ginger peeled & sliced
  • 2 small garlic cloves (or 1 large clove)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika) less spicy kind
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (more to adjust)
  • 14 cashewnuts (or nut butter/sunflower seeds or ½ cup coconut milk)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon kasuri methi, salt and sugar if needed to taste
ingredients to make tikka masala sauce

Make Tikka Masala Sauce

5. Heat a pan with 1½ tablespoon oil or ghee. Add the onions and saute until golden, for about 7 to 8 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, saute for another 2 mins.

sauteed onions in a pan

6. Add the tomatoes, salt, nuts and seeds if using. I used 50/50 sunflower seeds and cashews. Just note that sunflower seeds won’t impart creamy flavors and texture.

sauteed tomatoes and cashews

7. Saute until the tomatoes break down completely. If you want you can also cover and cook to speed up the process. Stir in the garam masala and red chili. Saute for another 2 to 3 mins until the masala smells aromatic. Turn off, remove the cinnamon, cool this and blend to a smooth sauce with 1 cup liquid (water or half cup coconut milk & half cup water).

onion tomato masala for tofu

8. Pour back the sauce and return the cinnamon stick to the pan. The sauce has to be slightly runny at this stage so pour more water if required (Check video for consistency). You won’t need more than 1 cup in total. Cover and simmer until you see traces of oil on top. The tikka masala sauce develops big flavors during this process so don’t undercook. Let it cook and thicken.

pureed onion tomato masala for tofu

Method 1 : Bake the Tofu Tikka in Oven

9. While the sauce simmers, preheat the oven to 460 F or 240 C for at least 15 mins. Line a deep baking tray with foil. To a mixing bowl, add the reserved marinade, ½ cup onions diced & layers separated and ¾ cup carrots thinly sliced or bell peppers diced. Keep the size of onions and bell peppers the same as tofu. Marinate them.

Note: If you are doing it in a OTG or a smaller oven, cut down the temp to 430 F or 220 C.

tofu tikka marinade in a bowl

10. Thread onion, carrots/bell peppers & tofu alternately on the skewers. Place them in the tray. Make sure your tofu does not touch the baking pan at the bottom as they can easily break while turning the skewers. Transfer to the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes, turn them to the other side and bake for 5 mins more (15 mins total). Keep the skewers close to one another, after turning them else tofu can rotate. Broil 1 to 2 mins for charred spots.

tofu tikka skewers in a tray

11. If you want to serve them as an appetizer, brush them generously with melted butter or ghee. Sprinkle some chaat masala or lemon juice and serve.

oven baked tofu tikka

Method 2 : Pan Fry

Please note this method can take really long if are making 2x or 3x recipe.

12. Spread a teaspoon oil/ghee in a wide pan. Heat on a medium high flame, coat each tofu piece with the marinade & place on the HOT (important) griddle. Cook on a medium flame on both the sides till the marinade dries up and tofu turns golden. Similarly place the bell peppers and marinated onions and fry until the marinade dries up.

pan fried tofu

Make Tofu Tikka Masala

13. When the sauce is thick, taste test and add more salt if you want. Crush kasuri methi in your palms and add along with 1 tsp sugar (optional). Add 1 tsp to tbsp ghee/butter. Turn off the stove. While you can always add the tofu tikka to the sauce, we feel serving them separately retained more flavors in the tofu. Also it is best to add the tikka to the sauce only at the time of serving.

tofu tikka in the masala

14. Optionally add 2 to 3 tbsps cream of choice to the tikka masala.

garnish with cream

Garnish with coriander leaves and deseeded slit green chili if you want. Serve Tofu Tikka Masala with fluffy Basmati Rice, Paratha, Chapati, Tandoori Roti or Butter Naan.

Tofu Tikka Masala Recipe

Pro Tips

  • Handle with Care: After refrigerating, your tikka marinade can become too thick and the marinated tofu can get stuck to the bowl. Be careful and gently remove them from the bowl.
  • Moisture: It is important to use thick yogurt & remove excess moisture from the tofu, else the marinated tofu can let out too much moisture while baking. The marinade won’t stay on the tofu.
  • Tikka Masala is not very creamy & rich like the makhani dishes, so you don’t need a lot of cashews or coconut milk or cream. If you use a lot, you will dilute/lose the flavors.
  • Use a good aromatic garam masala. Adjust the quantities as needed because every store bought blend is different.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

Tofu Tikka Masala

Tofu Tikka Masala Recipe

5 from 37 votes
Make restaurant style Tofu Tikka Masala at home! Oven baked or pan fried marinated tofu is served with tikka masala for a hearty meal. Serve it over rice or with flatbreads.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Marinating Time4 hours
Total Time55 minutes
Servings2 to 3
AuthorSwasthi
Diet : Gluten Free, Vegan

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

To make Tofu Tikka

  • 200 grams (7 ounces) extra firm pressed tofu (cubed to 9 pieces, read notes to prep them)
  • ¼ cup thick yogurt (read notes)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger paste or grated
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste or minced/crushed
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or smoked paprika (less spicy kind)
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon chaat masala (or ¼ tsp ground cumin)
  • ½ teaspoon Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste, as per your tofu)
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice (omit if your yogurt is sour)
  • ½ tablespoon oil
  • 1 small (½ cup ) onion (diced & layers separated, optional)
  • ¾ cup carrots (thinly sliced or bell peppers diced, optional)

To make Tikka Masala

  • 2 tablespoons oil (or ghee, divided)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 inch cinnamon piece
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 cup (80 g, 1 medium) onion sliced
  • 1¾ cups (225 g, 2 medium) tomatoes sliced/ chopped
  • inch ginger peeled, sliced
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika) less spicy kind
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (more to adjust)
  • 14 cashewnuts (or nut butter/sunflower seeds or ½ cup coconut milk)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 cup water (to blend + cook the sauce, ½ cup to use coconut milk)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon kasuri methi

To Garnish (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro chopped finely to garnish)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon cream of choice (cashew cream/heavy cream/coconut cream)
  • 1 green chili deseeded and slit


Instructions

Preparation – Marinade

  • To a mixing bowl, add yogurt, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, garam masala, coriander powder, chaat masala, kasuri methi, oil, lemon juice & salt.
  • Mix well and taste test. Add more salt if required depending on how well your tofu is salted. Reserve 2 tbsps of this marinade if using veggies – bell pepper/carrots.
  • Add tofu cubes & gently mix well to coat with the marinade. Cover and rest for a minimum of 4 hours to overnight in the refrigerator.

How to Make Tofu Tikka Masala

  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, cardamoms, cinnamon and onions. Saute on a medium heat until golden, for about 7 to 8 mins.
  • Add sliced ginger garlic and saute for 2 mins. Add the tomatoes, salt & nuts, cook until they break down and turn mushy.
  • Stir in red chili powder and garam masala, Cook this masala until aromatic for 2 minutes.
  • Pour water (& coconut milk if using) to a blender jar and transfer the cooled down mixture. Remove and return the cinnamon to the pan.
  • Make a smooth puree and return it to the same pan. Bring it to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook covered until the gravy turns thick and you see traces of oil on top. Keep stirring in between.
  • Once the gravy is thick yet of a pouring consistency, crush the kasuri methi in your palms and sprinkle. Taste the gravy & add more salt and a little sugar if needed. Stir in 1 tsp ghee or butter. Rest this aside to keep it hot/warm.
  • Optional – If using onions & bell pepper, dice them to the same size as that of tofu. Separate the layers in the onion. Add them to a bowl along with bell pepper and marinate gently with the reserved marinade.
  • Preheat the oven to 460 F or 240 C for at least 15 mins. Line a deep baking tray with foil. Thread onion, carrots/bell peppers & tofu alternately on the skewers. Place them in the tray, move to middle rack & bake for 10 minutes, turn them to the other side and bake for 5 mins. Broil 1 to 2 mins for charred spots.
  • You can serve the tofu tikka on the side and masala separately over the rice or stir in the tikkas into the masala. It is best to add them to the sauce only at the time of serving. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and green chilies if you want.


Notes

  • For best results, freeze extra firm tofu for 2 days, later defrost in the refrigerator. Drain the liquid and wrap in kitchen towels. Gently press down to remove any excess moisture. Then dice them to 1 inch, 9 portions. If you want to pan fry the tikkas, make thin slices of larger sizes.
  • This recipe requires thick yogurt/ strained yogurt. You can use dairy like Greek yogurt or plant yogurt. Using runny yogurt is going to ruin the tikkas.
  • Make sure your tofu does not touch the baking pan at the bottom as they can easily break while turning the skewers.
  • Keep the skewers close to one other after turning them else tofu can rotate.

Video

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NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Tofu Tikka Masala Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 257 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 0.05g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 689mg30%
Potassium 605mg17%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 6275IU126%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 106mg11%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Recipe Rating




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5 stars
Great recipe. Turned out classy, like from a restaurant.

5 stars
Excellent recipe but takes time. I made tikka masala in the instant pot with 15 mins pressure cooking time, used a stick blender and it was very easy. Next time going to double the tofu because they tasted amazing. Thank you

5 stars
This is the best tofu tikka masala and it came out delicious. The only change was to use half cup of grated firm tofu for texture like a lababdar.

Hi there,
This recipe looks delish! I only have a nutribullet pro, do you think it works to blend the sauce? Also do you leave the cardamoms to blend? Thanks for your reply

5 stars
Thank you Swasthi for the truly delicious recipes. My family is a big fan of anything from your website. Last night was your tofu tikka masala and naan. Both were fantastic! I used frozen and thawed smoked tofu, so it was faster than I thought. Keep up the great work and keep the recipes coming!

5 stars
This is the first time my tikka masala sauce tasted so great! It has so much flavor and is easy to make. Half of the tofu skewers didn’t make it to the sauce. My husband and kids kept eating the baked tofu. Next time I would double the tofu and vegetables. Thank you and I am looking forward to make your red lentil curry soon.

This is a little confusing. I’m only making the tofu on skewers. So do you bake, take off skewers, pan fry, then put them back on the skewers and bake again?

5 stars
Amazing tofu tikka masala. Have made this a few times now and it’s perfect every time. Never even thought of putting cashews and seeds in a Curry. This took it to the next level yummy!!!!

5 stars
Didn’t have yogurt so used sour cream for the marinade. Can’t eat nuts so left out that and pureed the onion tomatoes with a little tofu. It was amazing and my guests were impressed, kept asking for the recipe. I showed them your website. Thank you this my favorite Indian website.

5 stars
As always amazing recipes from Swasthi. Loved this tofu tikka masala. Thank you

5 stars
I am amazed by this tofu tikka masala. It is easier than my previous recipe and tastes so much better. Thank you

I look forward to make this soon. But how much nut butter to use?

5 stars
I’ve never had a meat tikka masala so no comparisons here. But this is crazy delicious! I can’t get myself to eat tofu unless it swims in plenty of good sauce. This dish surprisingly surpassed my expectations. My only problem is the cook time. I am new cook and it took me over an hour from start to finish because I had to cool down the cooked ingredients before blending. I am hoping to get an immersion blender soon and maybe I can save some time. This recipe goes to my favorites!

Why didn’t you share the quantity of seeds you used? I am looking forward to try this with seeds because I am allergic to cashews.

5 stars
Delicious! Tasted like it came from a restaurant. We served it with your naan and red lentil curry. Omitted the bell peppers and used mushrooms. Didn’t rest tofu in the marinade, yet it was nice.

5 stars
This is excellent!! My new favorite tofu recipe. We love that it turns out super saucy. I saved leftovers to serve over spaghetti. Didn’t have cardamom pods so substituted with ground.

5 stars
I’ve made a lot of tikka masala recipes in my lifetime and this one is hands down the best. I thawed and reheated the left overs today. Tofu is unbelievably flavoursome after storing it for 10 days. I wiped down the sauce and reheated the tofu in air fryer for 10 mins and voila! I can’t compare this to anything I have eaten in the past. Thank you for the amazing recipe.

5 stars
This is the first time I have made a recipe from your website and it turned out stunning and extremely delicious. Didn’t have chaat masala and fenugreek, still it worked out well with almond butter. This is my favorite tofu tikka and will be making it again

Hi there,
This recipe looks delish! Where can I find kasuri methi and what is the English name?

This looks great, thank you!! Can I air fry instead?

5 stars
This recipe did not disappoint and it tasted delicious. Next time going to try with halloumi. Thank you for another fantastic recipe