Vegan Tempeh Tikka Masala With Cashew Cream

Updated on April 2, 2020
Lovely Day Treasures profile image

Melanie is an avid vegan homemaker who has been enjoying cooking and experimenting in the kitchen for over 15 years.

Tempeh tikka masala served with quinoa.
Tempeh tikka masala served with quinoa.

Origins of Chicken Tikka Masala

Indian food is the best cuisine on earth—hands down. But I know what you're thinking: It isn't even technically "real" Indian cuisine, right? While it is believed that tikka masala was actually invented in Glasgow, Scotland, there are many who think that it originated in the UK, or that it is indeed a true Indian curry. While the actual origins of tikka masala are a matter of debate, the incredible flavor is not—and in my book, that's really all that matters.

My Journey and Revelation

I first learned to make chicken tikka masala about seven years ago when I had a brief hiatus from vegetarianism. I chose to eat meat for a few years while I was dating an Indian fellow, and I am truly grateful for that experience because I learned so many recipes from his mother. Of course, prior to meeting her I had to learn to cook something for him, and this was the first thing I made. Though it's not something he would have typically eaten, he sure cleaned his plate pretty well. Ever since then this has been one of my favorites, but when I went vegan three years ago I didn't think to take it along with me. I let the recipe fall by the wayside, but recently, I have re-discovered the beauty of this dish.

I went vegan keto about four months ago, and it was pretty short lived, let me tell you! Food got so boring during that first month, so I decided to switch it up and go low carb instead. Since just before I started keto, I wasn't really experimenting with food too much, so recently I've been enjoying getting more creative in the kitchen. Just the other day I picked up my personal recipe book and gave it a flip through. The third recipe in there was tikka masala, and as soon as I saw it my mouth was watering just remembering how delicious it is.

Then it hit me—why have I not veganized this recipe yet?! So I went for it. I had some tempeh in the fridge so I threw it in the marinade: amazing! I made the cashew cream to substitute for the heavy cream: exquisite! I finally now have a new version that I can enjoy regularly and there just aren't any words to describe how happy that makes me. I really hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and I hope you have fun creating it!

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup cashew milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 8 ounce block tempeh, cut in half

For the masala:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil, for frying the tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter or coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeño, small dice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Saving the tempeh for last, combine all of the marinade ingredients together and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours. The tempeh is especially delicious if allowed to sit for 48 hours.
  2. Remove the tempeh from the marinade and scrape off as much of the excess as possible just using your hands.
  3. Heat the avocado oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, place the tempeh in the pan and allow it to sear. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Flip the tempeh over and sear the other side for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.
  4. While the tempeh is cooking, mince the garlic, finely dice the jalapeño, and gather the remaining ingredients for the masala.
  5. Using the same skillet, melt the vegan butter over medium heat, add in the garlic and jalapeño, and allow to cook for 1 minute stirring occasionally.
  6. Add in the cumin, paprika, and salt, and cook for 1 minute stirring almost constantly to toast the spices.
  7. Stir in the tomato sauce and the cashew cream and combine well. Add in the tempeh and coat with the sauce. Turn the heat down to medium-low, place the lid on, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. At this point I like to add in just a bit more water to thin out the sauce. This is an optional step though, it's just my preference to have it a bit thinner.
  9. Remove from the heat and serve, garnishing with the cilantro and a lime wedge if desired.

Photo Guide

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Add all the ingredients for the marinade together.Combine well.Add in the tempeh and cover completely with the marinade. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.Remove the excess marinade and sear the tempeh for 5 minutes on each side over medium heat.While the tempeh is cooking, prepare the jalapeño and the garlic. The jalapeño should be diced small and the garlic minced. I like to buy pre-minced garlic to save time, so I use about 1 teaspoon of the prepared garlic as an equivalent.The tempeh should be a nice golden brown color after about 4-5 minutes. Once seared on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside for later.Using the same pan, add in the butter, garlic, and jalapeño, and saute for about 1 minute.Add in the cumin, paprika, and salt and saute for about another minute allowing the spices to toast a bit and to bloom.Add in the tomato sauce.Add in the cream and combine well.Add in the tempeh and coat with the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer on medium low for 20 minutes.Garnish the tikka masala with cilantro and a lime wedge or two. Enjoy!
Add all the ingredients for the marinade together.
Add all the ingredients for the marinade together.
Combine well.
Combine well.
Add in the tempeh and cover completely with the marinade. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
Add in the tempeh and cover completely with the marinade. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
Remove the excess marinade and sear the tempeh for 5 minutes on each side over medium heat.
Remove the excess marinade and sear the tempeh for 5 minutes on each side over medium heat.
While the tempeh is cooking, prepare the jalapeño and the garlic. The jalapeño should be diced small and the garlic minced. I like to buy pre-minced garlic to save time, so I use about 1 teaspoon of the prepared garlic as an equivalent.
While the tempeh is cooking, prepare the jalapeño and the garlic. The jalapeño should be diced small and the garlic minced. I like to buy pre-minced garlic to save time, so I use about 1 teaspoon of the prepared garlic as an equivalent.
The tempeh should be a nice golden brown color after about 4-5 minutes. Once seared on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside for later.
The tempeh should be a nice golden brown color after about 4-5 minutes. Once seared on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside for later.
Using the same pan, add in the butter, garlic, and jalapeño, and saute for about 1 minute.
Using the same pan, add in the butter, garlic, and jalapeño, and saute for about 1 minute.
Add in the cumin, paprika, and salt and saute for about another minute allowing the spices to toast a bit and to bloom.
Add in the cumin, paprika, and salt and saute for about another minute allowing the spices to toast a bit and to bloom.
Add in the tomato sauce.
Add in the tomato sauce.
Add in the cream and combine well.
Add in the cream and combine well.
Add in the tempeh and coat with the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer on medium low for 20 minutes.
Add in the tempeh and coat with the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to simmer on medium low for 20 minutes.
Garnish the tikka masala with cilantro and a lime wedge or two. Enjoy!
Garnish the tikka masala with cilantro and a lime wedge or two. Enjoy!

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Melanie

    Comments

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      • MitaraN profile image

        Mitara N 

        2 months ago from South Africa

        This recipe looks gorgeous and so inviting, I am definitely going to attempt.

        Thanks for sharing

      • Lovely Day Treasures profile imageAUTHOR

        Melanie 

        2 months ago from Wisconsin

        Thank you so much Liza for your lovely comments. You are absolutely correct! Tempeh is perfect, especially for dishes like this that require a firmer texture. It works beautifully in so many things and I find it to be extra special when it comes to working with marinades. Hope you enjoy!

      • lizmalay profile image

        Liza 

        3 months ago from USA

        I love tempeh. Growing up, I ate tempeh as it's cheap and also nutritious. Three years ago, after I moved to the US, I was surprised seeing tempeh is getting recognized in healthy groceries, which makes me very happy. Tempeh has the right texture for a substituted for meat, which is great for vegan and vegetarian. Thanks for sharing a delicious recipe!

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