Welcome back, friends! Today’s recipe may sound a bit ironic, but today we are making Vegan Butter Chicken with Soy Curls! Yep, you read that correctly.
Clearly, neither butter or chicken are traditionally vegan. At all. However, we can still make a delicious plant-based meal that is highly inspired by this dish! “Highly inspired” is a key term here, just like any of my “substitute” style recipes (such as my Tex Mex Tofu Scramble). This recipe is not going to 100% be the exact same as the butter chicken you may get in non-vegan circumstances – it simply can’t be, because it doesn’t use butter or chicken! However, with the power of plant based ingredients, we can create a delicious meal that is similar to butter chicken in concept, flavor, and texture. This recipe is creamy, has Indian-inspired spices, and includes a protein source with a chicken-y texture. It’s a delicious (and healthier) version of the traditional butter chicken that you may have fond memories of!
As with most of my recipes, this is kind of a baseline recipe. You can 100% follow the recipe exactly and it will be delicious! But, you could also play with it a bit in your own kitchen if you wanted to change it up! I have a few ideas of other fun twists you could experiment with, so be sure to read the “Tips & Tricks” section towards the end of the blog post to hear my ideas if that sounds like your jam!
LET’S (vegan) BUTTER CHICKEN IT UP.
- Onion and garlic – I think most of my dinner recipes start with onion and garlic, because they add such great depth and flavors!
- Dehydrated soy curls – These are made by Butler Foods and can be ordered on Amazon. They also exist in some health food stores, so check out ones in your area to see! I know that some of you won’t love that I call for such a specific ingredient for this recipe. But hear me out. These have honestly become a staple in my plant based kitchen, and I highly recommend them to any plant-based person! Since I love these so much I wanted to create a recipe to introduce you to them – so here we are! These are made with one ingredient, “Whole Non-GMO Soy Beans”. I love that they add a hearty “meaty” texture to dishes but are not nearly as processed as many other meat substitutes. However, if you’re not into this concept, be sure to check out my “Tips & Tricks” section where I give you my thoughts on another possible option!
- Tomato puree – pretty much every butter chicken recipe uses some sort of tomato mixture in the sauce, and this is our version! The acidity from the tomatoes is an important component, and using puree makes our butter chicken super smooth.
- Garam masala, ground ginger, smoked paprika, and cumin – Lots of spices! Traditional butter chicken originated in India, so you know that it’s got lots of yummy spices! You’ll notice that the ginger and smoked paprika in the recipe call for 1-2 teaspoons each (rather than one specific measurement such as “1 tsp”), this is because they are pretty specific flavors and this way you can decide how much of those flavors you want!
- Coconut milk and (optional) cashews – these are going to make our butter chicken super creamy. The cashews are optional, but they do take the creaminess to an even higher level!
How to Make Vegan Butter Chicken with Soy Curls
- Sautee onion and garlic
- Add dehydrated soy curls, tomato puree, and a bunch of spices to the mix
- Add a blended mixture of coconut milk and cashews
- Let simmer and adjust seasonings as needed
Tips & Tricks
- As you guys may have found out by now, I like to think of my recipes as guides. I give you a baseline recipe to go off of, but I always encourage you to play with it and make it your own! With that being said, you can definitely play with the spices in this one. One idea here is that you could throw in a little chili powder or cayenne if you like extra spice! I included a bit of chili powder in one of my tests and my husband (a big spice fan) gave it two thumbs up.
- On the experimenting note, you could likely use chickpeas for your protein instead of soy curls. I haven’t personally tried this yet, but I have made very similar dishes with chickpeas and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work here. I would simply replace the soy curls in this recipe with cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed)! Whenever I try this idea in the future I’ll be sure to update this post and let you know how it went. I think it would be delicious.
- I serve this dish with brown rice and top it with coconut yogurt and cilantro. But it would also be delicious served with a side of naan bread, or even a side of basic steamed veggies like broccoli!
Vegan Butter Chicken with Soy CurlsCourse: MainCuisine: Indian
This Vegan “Butter Chicken” is creamy, flavorful, and great for a somewhat quick weeknight meal. The soy curls used make a hearty “chicken” substitute while keeping things vegan-friendly! Note that the prep time listed above does not include the time necessary to soak your cashews – so be sure to get that done prior!
1 small/medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups dehydrated soy curls* (typically about half a bag)
2 cups tomato puree
2 cups water
3 tsp garam masala spice
1/2 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup cashews* (optional), soaked in room temperature water overnight OR in boiling water for 20 minutes
3/4 cup canned full-fat coconut milk*
salt, to taste
- To Serve:
cooked brown rice (optional)
- Optional Toppings:
cilantro, finely chopped
- Dice your onion
- Add your onion and garlic, along with a few splashes of water, to a large pot. Bring to high heat on the stove top. Sautee your onions and garlic until onions are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, stirring frequently and adding more water as needed to prevent sticking. This normally takes 5-6 minutes.
- Once your onions are tender: add dehydrated soy curls, tomato puree, water, garam masala, cumin, and 1 tsp each of ground ginger and smoked paprika to the large pot. Bring the pot down to medium heat and stir so everything is evenly incorporated.
- While your soy curl mixture heats, add your soaked cashews and coconut milk to a blender. Blend until the mixture is nice and smooth. The cashews should have thickened your coconut milk and made it even creamier. If you are choosing to leave out the cashews, just skip this step and use coconut milk on its own for the next step.
- Pour your coconut-cashew mixture (or just your coconut milk if not using cashews) into the pot. Give it a stir and allow everything to come to a simmer. This usually takes about 10 minutes for me. By now your soy curls should be hydrated and be able to be pierced with a fork!
- Once your mixture is bubbling and simmering, give it a quick taste test and adjust the seasonings as needed! This is when you can add salt as well as more smoked paprika or ground ginger, if desired.
- Serve as desired! I like to serve this on a bed of cooked brown rice and top it with some cilantro and coconut yogurt.
- *Dehydrated soy curls: these can be ordered on Amazon or found at some health food stores. If you don’t want to search for these, check out the “Tips & Tricks” section of this blog post for another idea!
- *Cashews: these are optional but will provide even more creaminess to our butter chicken! Without the cashews the coconut milk will still add some creaminess, it just won’t be quite as intense.