In My Kitchen: Tofu Makhani (Butter Tofu)

I’ve never had Butter Chicken, but I’ve tried the sauce when my friends order it at Indian recipes. It’s simply outstanding – Rich, tomato-y, buttery and full of flavor. I began to wonder about making my own version with tofu instead of chicken.

The original recipe calls for 1 stick of butter, but honestly, the butter flavor turned out too subtle. I’ve adapted the recipe to 2 sticks of butter, which sounds really gross, but tastes delicious.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 – 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 16 oz package extra-firm tofu
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder or cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro


  1. Drain and press tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, cumin and 1 heaping tablespoon turmeric with 1 tablespoon water to make a thin paste.

3. Add tofu to marinade, gently stirring to coat. Set aside.

4. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onions and chili powder, stirring frequently until onions are translucent. Lower the heat.

5. Add ginger and garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

6. Add in tomatoes and their juices, gently crushing the tomatoes with your wooden spoon or hands as you go.

7. Add cinnamon, paprika, salt, 1 teaspoon turmeric and sugar. Cook until the tomatoes and onions break down and the sauce is thick, about 10 minutes.

8. Blend sauce with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor, puree and return to pot.

9. Gently stir in heavy cream, tofu and marinade. Simmer over low heat until the tofu is flavored all the way through, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, add 2+ tablespoons flour to thicken it up.

10. Top with scallions and cilantro. Serve over rice or with naan.

Source: Adapted from a recipe by the New York Times Cooking

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