Vegan Butter ‘Chicken’ (Tofu)

Vegan Butter ‘Chicken’ (Tofu)

This past weekend we went camping to a place with no electricity and no mobile reception. There were mountains, rock pools with waterfalls, campfires and starry skies. I’ve loved camping since I was a little girl enjoying endless caravanning holidays with my family – you could say I semi grew up in a tent. It has always been a way of finding peace for my tired and overanxious soul, a state which describes all of us more often than not.

Camping is supposed to be a simplified lifestyle where you only take what you need and use what you have. This usually means simpler meals, because fancy cooking requires more energy, equipment and prep than one would want to commit to while focusing on the important job of relaxing. Except for Mark and I. Because cooking together with no time limits IS relaxing (hello, toddler monster interrupting every meal time at home), and with a little pre-planning and some at-home prep, you can camp AND make Masterchef dishes worthy of your finest dinner party offering.

This butter chicken recipe originally belongs to chef and guest Masterchef Australia judge, Saransh Goila – you can check it out in full here. Credit goes to my friends Alan and Jenna for veganising it and sharing their version with us. Head-scratching substitutions, creative tandoori tofu-ing and flatbread recipe are all our own.

This is the HOT version…if you don’t like spicy, beware! And use far less chilli.

Vegan Butter 'Chicken' (Tofu)

Tandoori Tofu:

  • 350g smoked tofu
  • 2 tbsp wheat flour
  • 1-2 tsp garam masala spice

Butter Chicken Sauce Base:

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 whole piece nutmeg
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large peeled onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 heaped tsp lazy garlic
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 150ml water
  • 200ml coconut cream
  • 60ml ground nut flour (I used macadamia)
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 70g vegan margarine


  • 1 medium peeled onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lazy garlic (or finely chopped garlic cloves)
  • 40g vegan margarine
  • 1 ½ tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp chilli powder

Coriander Mint Chutney:

  • 2 bunches coriander, stalk cut off halfway
  • 1 bunch mint, stalk cut off halfway
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 green chillies, stalks removed
  • 2.5 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp lazy garlic (or finely chopped garlic cloves)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp water

No Yeast Easy Flatbread:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup plant milk or water
  • Olive oil to cook



  1. Slice tofu into strips 1.5cm thick and roll in mixture of flour and garama masala. Fry in a little olive oil until crispy on the outside. Set aside.
  2. To make the coriander chutney, blitz all the ingredients in a blender until the mixture is thick – scrape the sides with a spatula if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.
  3. To make the flatbreads, add melted margarine and milk to a bowl of the dry ingredients. Sprinkle a work surface with flour and knead the mixture for a few minutes until it forms a smooth dough. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky. Place in a bowl covered with a tea towel and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Dust your work surface with flour, cut dough into 4 pieces, roll into balls and roll out into into 4 even flatbreads.
  4. Heat olive oil in a non stick pan (I used a griddle pan) over medium heat. Place one flatbread in the pan, cook for around 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside.
  5. To make the butter chicken sauce, place cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, nutmeg and green cardamom pods into a square of muslin cloth and tie up to form a parcel. If you don’t have a muslin bag, the foot of a stocking works just as well! This is what I used. Just make sure it’s been washed…
  6. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, coconut sugar,  nut flour, water, coconut cream, ground coriander, chilli powder, good pinch of salt, margarine and the muslin spice bag into a cast iron pot. Place near coals so the bottom doesn’t burn and cook down, stirring regularly (about an hour in total). Once the sauce has cooked down, remove the spice bag and use a blender stick to puree it so it’s smooth and creamy (if you are at a campsite with no electricity, take your UPS and blender stick along and level up!).
  7. To make the Tadka, heat the margarine and oil in a pan. Add onions and sauté until just golden. Once the onions are golden, add the garlic and sauté until just golden. Add the chilli powder and cook for 1 minute, then remove pan from the heat.
  8. Pour the Tadka immediately into the butter chicken sauce – the Tadka should be sizzling hot. Stir until the sauce takes on a burnt orange colour and the smells of chilli and smokey sauce make you salivate.
  9. Serve with coriander chutney and flatbread.


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