Sep 20

Not Butter Chicken Curry

in Main Course, Vegan

Not Butter Chicken Curry

We have a deep-rooted love for Indian food in our family.  In fact, it was my last meal when I was in labor with Squirrel before she was born and my last meal the night before Bug was born.  One of our favorites is butter chicken, but since I don’t eat chicken anymore, it’s been a while since I’ve had it.  So about 10 months ago I started playing around with making a plant-based version that we liked and just recently got it to where we love it.  Butter chicken (murgh makhani) is chicken in a mildly-spiced tomato sauce.  Instead of using chicken I used soy curls.  We love soy curls (made from soy beans cooked in water and stirred in a special way so that long strands are created and then dried at a low temperature to create the curls) and I now buy them in bulk from Butler Foods (not sponsored) and store them in the freezer so that we always have them on hand.  When they are cooked up they have the texture of meat and soak in whatever flavors you cook them with.  For this curry I started out by soaking them in warm water while I got started on the curry.

Rehydrating Soy Curls

This curry is all about the spice mixture–garam masala, cumin, turmeric, coriander, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper (or Indian chili powder), along with onion, fresh ginger, garlic, and tomatoes make for a vibrant, flavorful sauce.  If you want to be a bit more authentic, you can add some vegan butter to the sauce, but I leave it out because I find I love it just as much.

Spice Mix for Not Butter Chicken Curry

In place of cream I add coconut milk.  Sometimes I add half of a can of coconut milk and sometimes I add an entire can, depending on how creamy and rich I want to make it.  I garnish it with fresh cilantro and usually serve it with basmati rice, but it would be delicious served with flatbread as well.  You can make it ahead of time and reheat it, because it seriously tastes better after having sat for 24 hours.  I hope you love it as much as we do!

Not Butter Chicken Curry

Not Butter Chicken Curry

A plant-based version of a family favorite.  Soy curls cooked in a creamy spiced tomato sauce.

Servings 8
Author Rachael Hutchings,


  • 2 1/2 cups soy curls
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder (Indian chili powder if you have it)
  • 1 can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice
  • 1/2 -- 1 can (13.66-ounces) coconut milk
  • fresh cilantro, to garnish


  1. Soak the soy curls in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain them when you are ready to add them to the curry.

  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the onion, ginger, and garlic and saute for around 5 minutes or until the onion is clear, adding water as necessary to prevent burning.

  3. Add the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, coriander, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper powder and stir together, letting the mixture cook for 1 minute, while you continue to stir.

  4. Add the crushed tomatoes and mix well, then add the drained rehydrated soy curls and stir to combine.

  5. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  6. Stir in the salt, maple syrup, and coconut milk, then simmer, uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish the curry with fresh cilantro and serve with rice or flatbread.

Recipe Notes

*Depending on how rich and creamy you want the dish to be, add more or less coconut milk.

*This dish is perfect for making ahead of time because the flavor is even better after about 24 hours.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

happy wheels September 24, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Curry Chicken is not a great dish for your feast.


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