Easy Tofu Makhani Recipe: How to Make Indian Butter Tofu

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine sinking your teeth into a creamy, buttery dish that’s both comforting and bursting with flavor. That’s exactly what you’ll get with Tofu Makhani, a delightful vegetarian twist on the classic Indian Butter Chicken. Originating from the rich culinary landscapes of India, this dish swaps chicken for tofu, making it a perfect option for vegetarians and health-conscious eaters alike.


Here’s what you’ll need to create your own Tofu Makhani, encapsulating all the creamy, rich flavors of the traditional Indian dish with a healthy twist.

For the Tofu Marinade

  • 14 oz firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth

For the Makhany Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, for balanced flavors)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup water or as needed to adjust consistency

For the Other Ingredients

  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger, julienned
  • A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Required Tools and Equipment

To prepare your Tofu Makhani, a few specific tools and pieces of equipment are essential to ensure that your cooking process is smooth and your dish turns out as delicious as intended. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Heavy-Bottomed Pan: A good-quality, heavy-bottomed pan is crucial for making the Makhani sauce. It ensures even heat distribution and prevents the sauce from burning.
  • Blender or Food Processor: You’ll need a blender or food processor to puree the tomato mixture until smooth, which is a key step in achieving the creamy texture of the sauce.
  • Tofu Press or Heavy Object: To extract excess moisture from the tofu, use a tofu press. If you don’t have one, a heavy object like a book or a pan can work when placed on top of the tofu wrapped in kitchen towels.
  • Mixing Bowls: Have a few mixing bowls on hand for marinating the tofu and mixing the Makhani sauce ingredients.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements of ingredients are crucial for the perfect balance of flavors in Indian cooking. Ensure you have a set of measuring cups and spoons.
  • Spatula and Ladle: A spatula will help you gently stir the tofu without breaking it, while a ladle will be useful for adding and mixing the sauce ingredients.
  • Knife and Chopping Board: A sharp knife and a sturdy chopping board are essential for preparing ingredients like ginger and cilantro.

With these tools ready, you’re set to begin cooking and bring the rich flavors of Indian cuisine into your kitchen with Tofu Makhani.


Before delving into the cooking, getting your tofu ready and preparing the sauce ingredients is key. Here’s how to do it step by step.

Pressing the Tofub

To start, remove as much moisture as possible from the tofu, which ensures it soaks up the marinade and fries up nicely:

  1. Wrap your block of firm tofu in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
  2. Place it on a flat surface and set a heavy object like a cast-iron skillet or a heavy book on top of it.
  3. Let the tofu press for about 20-30 minutes. The longer you press it, the firmer and drier it will become, which is perfect for absorbing flavors.

Marinating the Tofu

Once your tofu is pressed and firm, it’s time to marinate it to pack it with flavors:

  1. Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes or slabs, depending on your preference.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon cumin, and salt to taste.
  3. Gently toss the tofu pieces in the marinade until they are well coated.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for more profound flavor.

Preparing Ingredients for Makhani Sauce

For the Makhani sauce, ensure all ingredients are ready to create a smooth, creamy texture:

  1. Finely chop 1 large onion, 4 cloves of garlic, and a 1-inch piece of ginger.
  2. Prepare 1 cup of tomato puree if not using store-bought.
  3. Measure out spices: 1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, garam masala, and 1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder or to taste.
  4. Collect 1 cup of cream and 1/4 cup of butter to enrich the sauce.
  5. Have fresh cilantro and dried fenugreek leaves on hand for garnish.

This preparation ensures that assembling your Tofu Makhani will be a streamlined, enjoyable cooking experience.

Cooking Process

Let’s dive into the essential steps to bring together your delicious Tofu Makhani, ensuring each component melds perfectly for a flavorful dish.

Cooking the Marinated Tofo

  1. Heat the Pan: Start by heating a tablespoon of butter or oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Ensure the pan is hot enough for sautéing to give the tofu a golden crust.
  2. Sauté the Tofu: Place the marinated tofu pieces in the pan in a single layer. Fry them for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until they achieve a golden-brown appearance. This not only enhances their texture but also locks in the flavors.
  3. Set Aside: Once all the tofu is well-cooked and golden, transfer it to a plate and set aside. Keep the pan on the stove, as you’ll use it for making the sauce.

Making the Makhani Sauce

  1. Prepare Ingredients: In the same pan, add a bit more butter and allow it to melt. Saute chopped onions, garlic, and ginger until they turn translucent and emit a fragrant aroma.
  2. Add Spices: Stir in the ground turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and coriander, toasting the spices briefly until they are aromatic. This step is crucial as it releases the oils and flavors from the spices, which are the backbone of the sauce.
  3. Tomato Puree and Seasonings: Pour in the tomato puree and add salt to taste. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the tomato puree to cook down and meld with the spices.
  4. Cream and Final Seasonings: Lower the heat and carefully stir in the cream, fenugreek leaves, and any additional salt if needed. Allow the sauce to simmer gently for another 5-7 minutes, which helps thicken the sauce and enrich its color and taste.
  5. Combine Tofu and Sauce: Add the cooked tofu back into the pan, tossing gently to coat with the Makhani sauce. Let it simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes for the tofu to absorb the flavors fully.

Enjoy the robust and tantalizing flavors of your homemade Tofo Makhani, best served hot and garnished with fresh cilantro. This dish pairs wonderfully with naan or steamed rice for a satisfying meal.

Assembling the Dish

Now that you have your golden, crispy tofu and the rich, aromatic Makhani sauce prepared, it’s time to bring all the components together. This is the crucial step where your tofu soaks up the delicious flavors of the Makhani sauce.

Adding Tofu to Makhani Sauce

Begin by gently placing the sautéed tofu into the simmering sauce. Use a spoon to carefully coat each piece with the sauce to ensure all the tofu cubes are well covered. This step is vital as it helps the tofu absorb the flavors of the sauce, giving each bite a deep, rich taste. Ensure that the heat is on low to avoid any splattering of the sauce.

Simmering Together

Once all the tofu is well-coated and resting in the Makhani sauce, allow the combination to simmer together for about 5 to 7 minutes. Keep the heat low and stir occasionally to prevent the tofu from sticking to the bottom of the pan. This simmering process melds the flavors, enhancing the depth and richness of the dish. As the tofu simmers, it becomes incredibly tender, soaking up the sauce and spices, which results in a delightful texture and flavor profile. Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro, and enjoy the creamy, luxurious flavors of your tofu makhani with naan or rice.

Serving Suggestions

After your Tofu Makhani has simmered to perfection, enhancing its flavors and tenderizing the tofu, it’s time to think about the best ways to serve this delightful dish. Optimal serving suggestions can turn this flavorful entrée into a feast that satisfies all the senses.

Accompanying Sides

To complement the creamy texture and rich flavor of your Tofu Makhani, you’ll want to choose sides that provide a contrast or enhance its deep flavors:

  • Naan Bread: Fresh, warm naan is an ideal companion. Use it to scoop up the sauce, enjoying the soft, pillowy textures against the rich, creamy makhani.
  • Basmati Rice: Fragrant basmati rice works well by providing a fluffy, neutral base that absorbs the makhani sauce beautifully.
  • Jeera Rice: If you want to add a little aromatic flair, jeera (cumin) rice with its nutty hint makes an excellent pairing.

Additional Garnishes

Spruce up the presentation and add an extra layer of flavor with these garnishes:

  • Cilantro: A sprinkle of chopped cilantro not only adds a pop of color but also imparts a fresh, herbal note that complements the richness of the makhani.
  • Cream Drizzle: A drizzle of cream over the top before serving can add visual appeal and a touch of luxury.
  • Fenugreek Leaves: Crushed, dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) can be sprinkled on top for an enticing aroma and a slightly bitter contrast that’s traditional in many North Indian dishes.

Beverage Pairings

Cap off your meal with the right beverage:

  • Mango Lassi: A sweet mango lassi balances the spicy elements of the dish and cools the palate.
  • Chai Tea: For a comforting finish, a warm cup of chai spiced tea complements the creamy, spicy flavor of Tofu Makhani.

With these serving suggestions, you can elevate your meal, ensuring every bite of Tofu Makhani is as rewarding as the last. Enjoy the burst of flavors with each spoonful, delighting in the ways different textures and temperatures come together to contribute to a truly sumptuous dining experience.

Make-Ahead Tips

Preparing your Tofu Makhani ahead of time can streamline your cooking process and enhance the flavors, making your cooking experience both enjoyable and efficient. Here are some practical tips to help you manage your time and effort while ensuring a delicious meal.

Prepare the Tofu

Marinate the tofu up to a day in advance. Combine the marinade ingredients as specified in the recipe, coat the tofu evenly, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This not only saves time but also allows the tofu to absorb the flavors thoroughly, resulting in a deeper, more pronounced taste.

Sauce Preparation

You can prepare the Makhani sauce a day or two before you plan to serve the dish. Cook the sauce according to the recipe, let it cool, and then pour it into an airtight container to store in the refrigerator. This step not only helps in blending the flavors better but also reduces the cooking time on the day you are ready to serve.

Cooking in Batches

If you’re planning to serve Tofu Makhani for a larger gathering, consider cooking it in batches. Prepare and freeze the sauce in portion-controlled containers. When ready to use, simply thaw and reheat the sauce, then add freshly marinated tofu to finish the dish. This makes it easier to manage your portions and ensures that each serving is fresh and flavorful.

Reheating Tips

For best results, gently reheat the Tofu Makhani on the stove over medium heat until thoroughly warmed. If the sauce thickens too much during refrigeration, add a little water or vegetable broth to adjust the consistency before heating. This will help maintain the creamy texture of the sauce.

Employing these make-ahead tips not only helps in organizing your cooking process but also enhances the flavors of your Tofullahoma Makhani, letting you enjoy a rich and hearty meal without last-minute stress.


Ready to dive into the rich flavors of Tofu Makhani? With your tofu marinated and Makhani sauce prepped, you’re all set for a delightful culinary adventure. Whether it’s a quiet dinner or a festive gathering, this dish promises to be a hit. Don’t forget to pair it with naan or rice and top it off with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy the process and the delicious results. Happy cooking!

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