Tofu Makhani Bake

This is a guest recipe by the awesome veggie, Indian cook, Priya Lakshminarayan of Cookilicious. Priya created a vegan version of this Indian dish for us with a rich and creamy Makhani sauce and well-pressed tofu. She also gets photo credits for the beautiful food shot.

Makhani Sauce traditionally uses milk, butter and cream and features in the ever popular Butter Chicken – Makhan is the Hindi word for butter. So we were delighted for it to be veganized by a pro and be able to share it with you here.

A fuller rendition of the recipe, along with lots of Priya’s cookery wisdom and beautiful food pics, can be found here, Tofu Bake with Vegan Makhani Sauce

Ingredients

Makhani Sauce

2 tbsp cooking oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 green chilies

1 tbsp ginger paste

2 tbsp garlic paste

1/2 onion roughly chopped

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1-2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

2-3 garlic cloves

2 cardamom pods

1/4 cup cashews

3 tomatoes roughly chopped (or 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes)

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp turmeric powder

3 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves

Salt

1/4 cup water

1 cup vegan cream

Tofu Makhani Bake

400g firm tofu, well-pressed

1/2 tbsp cooking oil

1/2 onion thinly sliced

1/2 cup mushrooms sliced (substitute with other veggies such as peppers, cauliflower, broccoli or courgette)

Cloves for garnish (optional)

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp black sesame seeds

2-3 tbsp cilantro

2-3 tbsp grated vegan cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

Method

1. Heat a pan and add oil or vegan butter. When the oil is hot, add and fry the cumin seeds, green chilies, ginger, garlic, onions, poppy seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and cashews. Stir continuously and heat through for 1-2 minutes.

2. Add chopped tomatoes, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, tomato ketchup, sugar, salt, and dried fenugreek leaves. 

3. Cook till the tomatoes turn soft and pulpy. Take it off the flame and allow it to cool down. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. 

4. Transfer all the contents to a blender and blitz to make a smooth puree. Add 1/4 cup of water to thin if needed. Alternatively, you can also use a hand blender to make a puree. 

5. Pass this puree through a sieve. Do not throw away the pulp. 

6. Transfer the makhani puree to the same pan and bring to a boil. 

7. Add vegan cream and mix together. Check the taste and add more seasoning if necessary. The consistency of this Vegan Makhani sauce should be thick and creamy. Do not thin it down. Transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

8. Sauté the onions and mushrooms – along with any other vegetables you might be using, roughly chopped – add the retained pulp from the sauce. 

8. Dip the prepared tofu in the makhani sauce and place it in a greased baking dish. Surround the tofu on all the sides with the sautéed veggies. 

9. Make diagonal slits all over the tofu in opposite directions, so you get a criss-cross pattern. Stick a clove where the slits cross. (Optional)

10. Garnish with chopped cilantro, nutritional yeast, black sesame seeds, and vegan cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

11. When the tofu is golden brown, remove from the oven and take the cloves out carefully (use kitchen tweezers if you have them). Drizzle with lemon juice, and vegan cream (opt.).

Serve this delicious, creamy sauce and crispy baked tofu with rice, naan or roti.

NB. If you don’t have dried fenugreek leaves, substitute with 1 tsp mustard powder

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