Vegan ‘butter chicken’


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Jackfruit and Blue Ginger

Jackfruit and Blue Ginger

By Sasha Gill

Published 2019

  • About

My butter chicken has neither butter nor chicken, so perhaps calling it that is somewhat misleading. But I promise it’s robust and feisty enough to sway the most committed carnivore…

Prep time: 20 minutes (plus soaking time)
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Use 1½ blocks (450 g) extra-firm tofu, or 2 x 400 g tins chickpeas in place of seitan.


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (500 ml) tomato passata
  • ¼ cup (40 g) cashews soaked for 1 hour
  • ½ cup (125 ml) plant milk
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 quantity seitan ‘chicken’, torn into small strips
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves, to garnish
  • lime wedges, rice and Naan breads, to serve


Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat and fry the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next, add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry until the onion is soft and translucent, adding a small splash of water if it begins to stick. Stir in the turmeric, chilli powder and cinnamon, then pour in the passata. Drain the cashews and add them to the pan as well, then bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a large blender, add the milk, sugar, lemon juice, pepper and salt, and puree to make a smooth sauce. Carefully pour the sauce back into the saucepan (it will still be very hot), then put the pan back over medium heat and add the garam masala and torn pieces of seitan chicken. Simmer gently for 5–10 minutes, to let it reduce a little and to heat up the seitan.

Garnish the ‘butter chicken’ with coriander leaves, then serve with lime wedges, rice and naan breads.