Vegan Shahi Korma with Tofu
This vegan shahi korma makes the perfect weeknight meal, coming together in just 30 minutes. With tofu, peas, and a deliciously spiced sauce, this curry is rich, creamy and not without flavour! A healthy, gluten free vegetarian recipe, this is a tasty dinner idea for your next Meatless Monday.
What is shahi korma?
Korma is a South Asian dish, which traditionally consists of meat braised in yoghurt or cream and spices, to create a thick, rich, sauce. So ordinarily, korma is not vegan, nor is the korma sauce.
The dish can be traced back to the 16th century, and is said to have been served at the inauguration of the Taj Mahal- it’s that good!
Today in the UK, korma is typically served in Indian restaurants as a very creamy, lightly spiced dish which is considered a ‘beginners curry’. Some curry house aficionados might even call it a bland ‘baby food’ type curry.
When spiced right, a korma should in fact be rich and flavourful. Whilst I have kept this tofu korma on the milder side, it’s still packed with spice and flavour.
Shahi korma vs korma
The term ‘shahi’ translates to royal, which indicates that it’s a noble dish worthy of the court.
The addition of crunchy cashews and juicy, plump raisins, as well as cubes of perfectly golden tofu, is what makes this easy vegan korma curry suitable for royalty.
But don’t worry; I’ve made this recipe easy enough to enjoy every night of the week!
Why I love this vegan korma recipe
I love Indian food. We cook a lot of easy curries in our house, as they’re just a great quick meal to throw together after work. For me, a curry is just a feel good comfort food. They’re perfect for any time of year, whether it’s sunny or rainy, and there are so many variations of spices and cooking methods to enjoy.
I love this shahi korma because:
- It comes together in just 30 minutes, and follows a super easy process, requiring just a pan and some kind of blender.
- It saves you money on takeout! The ingredients in this tofu korma come to just a fraction of the cost of takeout.
- It uses simple spices- Indian recipes are not always easy and often contain a list of spices as long as my arm. I’ve kept the list of spices down in this vegan korma recipe by using a couple of easy-to-purchase spice blends.
- It’s super flexible. If you don’t have tofu or peas, you can swap them out for your favourite ingredients (bags of frozen veg make a great cheap and easy option).
- It makes a great freezer filler. This recipe will give you four good portions to put in your freezer.
- Lastly, it’s so rich and full of flavour! I’m a massive fan of sweet and savoury, so I love the plump sweet raisins in the spiced sauce.
What are the key ingredients in this recipe?
I’ve used tofu as a plant based alternative to paneer in this vegan shahi korma. It has a similar texture and is a great source of protein. I’ve also added in some frozen peas; we always have a bag of peas in the freezer and I love to add them to soups and stews for an extra boost of nutrition and flavour.
As I mentioned above, the cashews and raisins add to the ‘royal’ aspect of this dish. They add a great combination of crunchy, juicy, and sweet texture and flavour. I’ve also added some toasted almonds to garnish, along with some chopped cilantro.
A fragrant paste of onion, garlic, ginger and lemon is the starting point of this shahi korma. To this, I’ve added the spices. Whilst traditional Indian curries would contain an abundance of different spices, I’ve tried to keep this as simple as possible by using two common spice blends.
The first of these is curry powder, a Western spice blend created to evoke the flavours of ‘curry’. This tends to come in mild, medium and hot varieties, and generally contains a combination of coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, chilli, and several other spices, depending on which you buy. I would suggest using a medium variety for this recipe.
The second spice blend is garam masala. This is widely available in stores and is a South Asian spice blend. Unlike curry powder, garam masala is not based on turmeric so will be more brown in colour. It is more aromatic, and will likely contain spices such as cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg and cardamom.
To amp up the flavour, I’ve complemented these spice blends with a touch more cinnamon, turmeric, and ground cloves. If you don’t have these spices and don’t want to purchase them for this recipe, then you can just use the spice blends.
What is vegan korma sauce made from?
On top of the spices above, I’ve added a creamy sauce made from cashews, water, yoghurt, tomato paste and coconut milk. The yoghurt is an essential shahi korma ingredient so it shouldn’t be missed in this recipe! You can use any variety you like- soya, coconut, oat and cashew all work well in this.
As tofu doesn’t release any juices in the way that meat would, this vegan korma requires some more liquid than a typical korma. Whilst you could add water or stock, coconut milk adds a great creaminess, as well as a subtle coconut flavour which we really love.
You can use light or full fat coconut milk; the full fat will produce a thicker result.
What kind of tofu should I use?
For this recipe you need to make sure you use a firm or extra firm tofu. Some varieties of tofu will need pressing, and some will be fine straight out of the packet. I’ve written some more on this here if you aren’t sure which type you have.
Make sure that you don’t use a silken or soft tofu in this recipe, as it will fall apart in the curry.
How to make vegan shahi korma
Before you start, put 35g (1/4 cup) cashews in a small bowl with the warm water. Leave them to soak for a short while whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
To make the curry, start by blending the onions, garlic, ginger and lemon juice to make a thick paste. You can add a little water to the paste here if your blender is struggling!
Spoon the paste into a small bowl, then make the sauce in the same blender (this is a great way to save on washing up and any paste stuck to the sides gets mixed into the sauce!). Add the soaked cashews and water, yoghurt, tomato paste and coconut milk. Blend until this makes a smooth sauce.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat, then add the cubed tofu. Fry for 3-4 minutes, turning the tofu pieces regularly until they are golden all over.
Reduce the heat to medium then add the raisins and the remaining cashews and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the blended onion mix to the pan and stir everything to combine. Cook the paste onto the tofu, cashews and raisins for a minute.
Add the spices to the pan, toast for 30 seconds, then pour in the sauce. Add the peas to the pan and stir everything to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes, covered, until the sauce is thick and rich.
Best equipment for making tofu korma
This recipe doesn’t require masses of specialist equipment. The main thing you’ll need is some kind of implement for blending the spice paste and sauce. This could be a full sized blender, a bullet blender, small food processor, or even an immersion or stick blender.
I’ve said it before but I love my Ninja 3-in-1, as it suits all of my needs and is super powerful. I haven’t yet found a job that it can’t do!
I’ve topped this curry with some more crunchy toasted cashews. Although optional, I’d recommend serving them as they’re so good and add to the ‘royal’ experience of the shahi korma. I’ve also sprinkled over some chopped cilantro (coriander), but you can skip this if you’re not a fan!
Some of my favourite side dishes for this shahi korma are:
- Cooked basmati rice
- Cauliflower rice (a great lower carb option)
- Quinoa– not traditional, but adds a great protein boost!
- Vegan naan (be careful with store bought naan as it can often contain yoghurt. Check the ingredients, or better yet make your own!)
- Chapati or roti– both tortilla style flatbreads cooked without oil
Notes on authenticity
I’m going to be honest with you here, this shahi korma recipe is not the real deal! Whilst I think that authenticity has its place when it comes to cooking, sometimes you just want the flavour and experience of a dish- but with less time and less ingredients!
So, this is not traditional, but it’s my take on a healthy tofu korma with easy spices. Whilst the ingredients would traditionally be seared, then cooked slowly over a low heat to create a thick sauce, this quick method produces a similar outcome with significantly less effort.
Authentically, this dish would have quite a layer of ghee or oil on the top. I’ve tried to keep this recipe as healthy as possible, so you won’t find an excess of oil in this recipe.
This base recipe works well for pretty much any type of veggie or protein, so you don’t need to just stick to the tofu and peas. You can try:
- Fresh vegetables- try chopped cauliflower, green beans, sweet potato, carrot or eggplant for a vegetable korma. Brown them off in the pan, then simmer them in the sauce until softened.
- Frozen or canned vegetables- for ease, throw in a bag of frozen mixed veggies. You can use any type of frozen or canned vegetables, and as they’re already cooked you won’t need to increase the cooking time.
- Protein- if you like, swap out the tofu for your favourite meat substitute (for example, vegan chicken chunks). For a whole foods version, make it a chickpea korma, or use a can of butter beans or cannellini beans.
Can I prepare vegan korma in advance?
You can prepare this shahi korma up to 3 days in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, bring it to a simmer over a low-medium heat, adding a little bit of water to loosen the sauce to your desired consistency.
If you want to microwave this in individual portions, add a couple of tablespoons of water and mix. Cover loosely and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway. Make sure it is piping hot through before serving.
This tofu korma makes a great freezer filler, as it creates four good portions for the freezer. Freeze the curry in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I would recommend defrosting overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature before reheating as above.
If you need to reheat from frozen, follow the instructions as above, increasing the cook times until the curry is piping hot.
This is fine, just stick to the amounts of curry powder and garam masala shown. On the other hand, if you have a well stocked spice cabinet you might want to experiment with some other flavours in this dish. A dash of aromatic ground cardamom or spicy cayenne would be great starting points.
If you’d like to toast the cashews for serving your shahi korma, pop them in a frying pan over medium heat. Dry fry them, stirring often, until they’re golden brown.
Yes! If you like a thicker vegan korma curry, simply reduce the amount of coconut milk you add. If you’d rather a thinner sauce, add water a quarter cup (60ml) at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
Do you like easy weeknight meals?
Then you might like to try these easy vegan recipes:
- Vegan Mongolian beef– another delicious tofu recipe.
- Thai vegan peanut noodles (this recipe comes together in just 15 minutes- you can’t go wrong with that!)
- One pot green biryani; keep it simple and reduce the washing up!
- Or try these baked tofu nuggets, a healthy, gluten free alternative to chicken nuggets.
Vegan Shahi Korma with Tofu
For the paste
- 1 medium brown onion roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 inch ginger roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the sauce
- 35 g cashews ¼ cup
- 60 ml warm water ¼ cup
- 120 g dairy-free plain yoghurt ½ cup
- ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 1 400g can coconut milk (14 oz)
For the curry
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 block firm tofu* pressed and cubed
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 35 g cashews ¼ cup
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves (optional)
- 150 g frozen peas 1 cup
- 640 g / 4 cups white or brown basmati rice to serve
- 1 handful toasted cashews to serve
- Before you start, put 35g (1/4 cup) cashews in a small bowl with the warm water. Leave them to soak for a short while whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a blender, food processor, or mini chopper, blend the onions, garlic, ginger and lemon juice to make a thick paste. You can add a little water to the paste if your blender is struggling.
- Spoon the paste into a small bowl, then make the sauce in the same blender. Add the soaked cashews and water, yoghurt, tomato paste and coconut milk. Blend until this makes a smooth sauce.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat, then add the cubed tofu. Fry for 3-4 minutes, turning the tofu pieces regularly until they are golden all over.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the raisins and the remaining cashews and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Add the blended onion mix to the pan and stir everything to combine. Cook the paste onto the tofu, cashews and raisins for a minute.
- Add the curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cinnamon and ground cloves to the pan, toast for 30 seconds, then pour in the sauce. Add the peas to the pan and stir everything to combine.
- Simmer for 15 minutes, covered, until the sauce is thick and rich.
Made this recipe?
I’d love to know how you got on- let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
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