A creamy and indulgent classic curry house style korma made vegan. Tofu korma is easy to make and one of the most popular types of curries ever. Great served with vegan naan bread to mop up all that delicious gravy.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Self-confessed curry addicts – we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, but curry is life! Whether it’s a vegan butter chicken, spicy vegetable jalfrezi or sweet and creamy veggie pasanda, we’re in! Especially when it’s served with creamy vegan raita and roti too. It’s one of our favourite things to cook, and something that we’ll always make if we have friends and family coming over for dinner.
Creamy and mild – sometimes nothing but a creamy, mild and indulgent curry will do. If that’s where you’re at, then this is the recipe you've been looking for. However – and controversially – if you do like your spice, this one is great with a bit of chilli added – either with the rest of the spices or chilli flakes on top.
Classic ingredients and techniques – the word ‘korma’ is actually taken from the word braised in Urdu (source), referencing how the traditional dish was cooked, but this recipe is based on a classic British curry house korma, which has taken on a life of its own. Curry is synonymous with Britain, due to Indian influence and surprisingly (maybe?) is one of the most popular dishes in the UK. Our tofu korma is an amazing vegan korma that uses the proper ingredients and techniques to make a classic curry house korma but completely plant-based.
📋 Ingredient Notes
Tofu – it wouldn’t be a tofu korma without the tofu! For this recipe, we recommend using extra-firm tofu or firm tofu that has been pressed in a tofu press. We like the brand Tofoo, as it doesn’t need to be pressed. Ideally, if you brown it off in an air fryer or frying pan before adding to the tofu korma, it’s even better. If you love tofu, try this braised tofu and this amazing Szechuan tofu.
Cashews – it’s important to soak the cashews in boiling water before blending them, this way they turn into cashew cream. They take around 30 minutes to 1 hour to soak in boiling water. Cashews are actually used in a traditional korma recipe, but we have increased the amount in this recipe so that it replicates the creaminess of yoghurt, which is what would usually be used. When paired with the coconut cream, it creates the dreamiest tofu korma, that rivals a traditional version!
Coconut cream – we used the set coconut cream found on the top of a full fat can of coconut milk. Alternatively, you can buy coconut cream in a can or as a block. If using the cream from the top of the can, don’t forget to save the separated water! It can be added to smoothies to save wasting it.
Whole spices – the whole spices are super important to a tofu korma. It’s important to lightly crush the cardamom pods but not so much that the insides spill out into the gravy. That wouldn’t make for a pleasant eating experience! The cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick may look like they’re not much but they bring key flavours to this vegan korma. Just make sure to remove them all before serving!
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this creamy tofu korma recipe.
📋 Step-by-step Instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making vegan tofu korma. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
1. Start by soaking the cashews in boiling hot water for at least 30 minutes. The longer they soak, the smoother the paste will be once blended.
2. Add cashews to a blender along with the tomatoes, garlic and ginger and blend until smooth. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a large pan, then add sliced onions until browned – this will take around 10 minutes. Optionally, remove some onions to use as a garnish.
4. Pop in the whole spices, that’s the cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
5. Sprinkle in turmeric, coriander and chilli powders. Stir well.
6. Pour in the cashew paste from the blender. Stir well. It will thicken quite quickly, so best to keep it over a medium heat.
7. Loosen with the water, then sprinkle in the sugar.
8. Pop in the tofu and stir through. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins. Oil should start coming out of the edge of the sauce once it is nearly ready.
9. Add desiccated coconut, salt and garam masala. Stir well.
10. Then add the coconut cream and allow to melt into the sauce. Feel free to add slightly more coconut cream or water to make the gravy looser, or don’t add any extra and serve with the thick and creamy sauce.
11. Remove the whole spices and serve the vegan korma with rice and roti.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
Kashmiri chilli – this is a mild chilli powder that is used in Indian cooking for adding a hint of red to the colour palette, not for heat. If you don’t have kashmiri chilli powder, use plain old paprika powder. Don’t make the same mistake as us – when testing this recipe the second time, I thought I was using kashmiri chilli powder but it was actually hot chilli powder, and I had mixed the pots up. It was the spiciest tofu korma I have ever tasted! So much for it being the mildest curry, eh? Ha.
Sugar & coconut – the sugar and desiccated coconut can be omitted if you’d like. However, a lot of curry house kormas have a sweet, coconutty flavour to their curries. This is achieved with the sugar and desiccated coconut! They’re a great addition and really take the tofu korma to the next level, in my opinion. If you don’t want your vegan korma to have this sweet edge, it can be omitted.
Seasoning – a tofu korma, well any korma, and also a lot of curries aren’t just seasoned with salt! They’re seasoned with garam masala too. If you’re not sure on this, taste before seasoning. And then again after adding the salt and then the garam masala. It makes such a huge difference, and really elevates the flavour of the tofu korma.
Add some veg – while this is a tofu korma and the main ingredient is, well – tofu, you can also add veggies too. This vegan korma replicates a chicken korma which generally only has chicken in the sauce. We often add some cauliflower, just before simmering – so add it in with the tofu. Broccoli, courgette and peas also work, our fave combination is a pea, cauliflower and tofu korma, but you make this dish yours!
It’s not too difficult really! Blend up the garlic and ginger with cashews, fry off onions, add whole spices, powdered spices and the paste and then water. Simmer with the tofu and then finish with coconut cream, garam masala, salt and desiccated coconut. We practised this recipe 4 times, so we know this method works well!
Often korma isn’t vegan. It usually contains meat, yoghurt and butter or ghee. With a few subsitions – tofu for chicken and dairy free butter or margarine instead of ghee – you’ll have a super delicious vegan korma. Coconut cream and cashews are used in traditional recipes, so it really doesn’t take a big change to make a vegan version.
Yes, this tofu korma freezes well for up to 3 months. Serve one portion into each container and then freeze, making sure to label the pot with the date and what’s inside! Defrost and then reheat until piping hot. It’s important to note that the texture of tofu changes once it has been frozen. It will become chewier.
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Creamy Tofu Korma
- 50 g cashew nuts – soaked in hot water for 30-60 mins
- 2 tomatoes – chopped into quarters
- 1 inch ginger
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 large onion – sliced
- Cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom
- 3 cloves
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder – paprika can be substituted
- 300 ml water
- 560 g tofu – cut into big pieces and (optionally) fried off
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 tablespoon coconut cream
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon desiccated coconut
- Start by soaking the cashews in boiling hot water for at least 30 minutes. The longer they soak, the smoother the paste will be once blended.50 g cashew nuts
- Optionally, fry off the tofu pieces in either an air fryer or frying pan, until golden brown.560 g tofu
- Add cashews to a blender along with the tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Set aside for a moment.2 tomatoes, 6 cloves garlic, 1 inch ginger
- Melt the butter in a large pan, then add sliced onions until browned – this will take around 10 minutes. Optionally, remove some onions to use as a garnish.2 tablespoon vegan butter, 1 large onion
- Pop in the whole spices, that’s the cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.4 cardamom, 3 cloves, 2 bay leaf, Cinnamon stick
- Sprinkle in turmeric, coriander and chilli powders. Stir well.1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 tablespoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
- Pour in the cashew paste from the blender. Stir well. It will thicken quite quickly, so best to keep it over a medium heat.
- Loosen with the water, then sprinkle in the sugar.300 ml water, 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pop in the tofu then cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins. Oil should start coming out of the edge of the sauce once it is nearly ready.560 g tofu
- Finish by adding in coconut cream, desiccated coconut, salt and garam masala. Stir well. Remove the whole spices. Feel free to add slightly more coconut cream or water to make the gravy looser, or don’t add any extra and serve with the thick and creamy sauce.4 tablespoon coconut cream, ¾ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoon desiccated coconut, 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Use kashmiri chilli powder or paprika powder. Not hot chilli powder. It will be too spicy for a korma if you use hot chilli powder!
- The sugar and coconut is optional but recommended. Curry house curries have a sweet coconutty edge, but you can omit them if you don’t like this.
- Add vegetables to bulk out the curry. We like to add cauliflower sometimes to add a different texture. Courgette (zucchini) and peas also work.
- Storage – keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freezes for up to 3 months. Defrost and thoroughly reheat in the microwave. Tofu will become chewier once frozen.