Butter Tofu ‘Recipe’

Ok, I admit. This isn’t a very good recipe. It’s more of a ‘how to’ guide to make a delicious spin on a traditional Indian dish.

When I bake, I usually stick to a recipe quite faithfully. But when I cook? It kinda all goes out the window. Unless it’s something ‘new’, I tend to experiment and throw in things that I like to eat. This is kind of what happened here.

A few months ago, in a hangry (hungry –> anger –> hangry) rampage I went into a local specialty organic grocery store to “buy a snack”. While perusing the prepared deli section, I lingered in the section that has discounted containers (I like a deal!) and picked up “Butter Tofu”. It just happened to be the most delicious discounted takeout ever! It’s the Indian dish ‘butter chicken’ but instead of chicken, they use tofu. Which, coincidentally has a very similar texture to paneer! It was served with a scoop of basmati rice and even now, I can’t pass the store without picking up a snack.

I decided to make the dish myself at home but create a healthier twist of the original. Butter chicken is made with a lot of butter (obviously) that is used to saute the onions and meat. Crushed tomatoes are added and then cream to lighten it – and then! More butter! As a result, it is one tasty dish. Crazy on the calories, but delicious.

My variation would use only a fraction of the recommended amount of butter and yogurt to lighten, instead of cream.


4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 onion, chopped

1 cup green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces

1 red pepper, roughly chopped

1 package of firm tofu, patted dry and then cut into 3/4″ cubes

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 large can crushed tomatoes

1/2 – 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt

Garam masala spice (min 3 tablespoons, adjust to taste)


In a medium sized bowl, toss the tofu cubes with 1 tablespoon of the garam masala powder.

Heat a 4qt saucepan or saute pan over medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of butter.

When the butter has melted and started to bubble, add in the onion. Saute until translucent.

Add in beans and pepper. Saute until soft.

Add tofu, toss to incorporate with the vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water.

Add up to 3/4 cup of yogurt (feel free to add less or more) and stir well to incorporate.

Add the chickpeas and remainder of garam masala powder.

Dot the top with the rest of the butter (2 tablespoons), let melt and stir to incorporate.

Lower heat to medium and let simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Taste as you go and add more spice if you like. Additionally, add other veggies that you think would be tasty. I have used cauliflower and carrots and they have worked beautifully.

Serve with basmati rice (perhaps scented with 1/2 teaspoon of cumin or some shredded coconut?) or a grain of your choice.

But quite frankly I’ve eaten this with roti and it is all good.

Butter tofu served with rice and roasted cauliflower.

Butter tofu served with rice and roasted cauliflower.

(my side here is roasted spiced cauliflower: 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets, lightly spiced with curry powder, roasted for 30-40 min in a 400F oven)

Jan 18th, 2013: The lovely Andrea Nguyen has this recipe up on her blog – also an Indian-inspired tofu dish! (cranky stomachs think alike, hehe) She has some great tips on infusing flavour into tofu and some other tips to help make your dish a bit more authentic. Be prepared to be lost for hours on her website – some amazing recipes I’ve already pegged to try!

Tags: , , ,

Categories: dinner, Indian Food, recipe


Communications specialist by day, baker/cook/triathlete/dog-owner by night. I blog about my adventures inside and outside my kitchen. Come take a look - no big whoop!


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