mains/meat free/recipes

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe

Posted January 9, 2019 by Stephanie

Chicken is swapped out for nutrient and protein packed tofu and paneer for a vegetarian take on butter chicken.

I spent the holiday hanging out wrapped up in blankets binge watching The Final Table – a Netflix cooking competition show featuring top chefs making signature dishes from around the world. I chose it on a whim to have on in the background while I was doodling on my iPad, but it turned out so binge-able that I went ahead and watched all the episodes in about 3 days. That’s not to say that I thought it was a good show, it was one of those trashy I can’t stop watching and maybe it’s really bad but also kinda good shows.

There was lots of cheesy dramatic music and at the same time, no drama. Every chef is completely respectful and talented and there’s no backstabbing or throwing people under the bus. They take criticism well and take losing even better. I felt inspired by the fact that every time someone lost, they took it as learning experience. Plus, there were plates after plates of pretty food. I especially loved when the contestants had to make their versions of a country’s signature dish. Afterwards I totally wanted to make paella, pasta, and most of all, butter chicken.

I’ve made butter chicken quite a few times now and I’m hooked. But I was intrigued by the no chicken butter chicken concept of the show and wanted to try my hand at it. At first I was going to use cauliflower, but then I thought that a little bit of protein goes a long way so I went with firm tofu. Mike also suggested paneer – Indian cheese that’s similar to halloumi so then I thought, “why not both?”

I whipped up a quick makhani gravy – the sauce that is used in butter chicken, crisped up some tofu and paneer and popped them into the sauce. It was SO GOOD. Served up with a bit of rice and naan and I didn’t even miss the chicken at all. It was maybe even better than butter chicken?! The best part is you can put in anything you like into the sauce. If you’re feeling cauliflower, roast some then pop it in. Or maybe some sautéed kale? Definitely not traditional, but quick, tasty, and perfect for warming up.

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe
serves 4


  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, adjust this to your spice preference
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • oil for the pan
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 package paneer
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Note: You don’t have to crisp up the tofu and paneer, but it does add a nice bit of texture to the dish. If you’re short on time, I recommend crisping up the paneer and skipping out on crisping the tofu. Also, feel free to customize and go for just paneer or just tofu or any other vegetable you love.

In a large saucepan, stir together the diced tomatoes, garlic, ginger, 1 teaspoon garam masala, turmeric,, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and salt.

Add in the tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer gently while you fry the tofu and paneer.

Cut the paneer and tofu into cubes. Heat up a bit of oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat and fry the tofu and paneer cubes in batches, until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Use an immersion blender and blend the sauce until smooth. Alternately, carefully transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

When the sauce is smooth, stir in the butter, cream, and the last teaspoon of garam masala. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in the crispy tofu and paneer. Top with the cilantro and enjoy with rice and naan.

No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

5 Comments

  1. thefolia says:

    It’s all about the sauce and naan anyways! Happy feasting!

  2. I always order butter paneer instead of chicken! Love the tofu addition, can’t wait to make!

  3. Lyndsay says:

    Look at your little crispy tofu cubes! Teddy would love those. I am inspired, this dish is perfect for our veggie crew! xo

    1. Stephanie says:

      ooh yes!!! i think you guys would love it. but tone down the spice LOL

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