Vegetarian Tikka Masala Recipe by Kate Harrison

Panner/Tofu Tikka Masala

I’ve always been envious of my partner for his regular order of chicken tikka masala at our favourite Indian takeaway. Here’s my version for veggies or vegans, with a lower-fat twist (the restaurant version contains loads of cream).

Paneer is one of my favourite ingredients, it is a mild but versatile Indian cheese; the calories vary a lot depending on brand, so look for a lowerfat version (I used Savera), or use tofu.

Homemade masala marinade is delicious and quick to make with a hand blender, but you could save time by buying a paste – again, calories vary.

Serves 2



– 200g paneer (348 cal) or firm tofu (230 cal) diced
– 1 onion, chopped (38 cal)
– 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into small chunks (30 cal)
– 100g tomatoes, roughly chopped (20 cal)
– ½ tsp coconut oil (21 cal)
– 2 level tbs strained Greek yogurt (29-40 cal) or coconut yogurt (55–195 cal)
– Chopped fresh coriander, to serve (2 cal)

Tikka Masala Paste

– For the tikka masala paste, 47 cal per serving with lowest-cal vegan yogurt/57 with lowest-cal dairy yogurt
– 1 tsp each whole coriander and cumin seeds (10 cal)
– 1 tsp each turmeric, cayenne pepper and garam masala (15 cal)
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed or roughly chopped (8 cal)
– 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (8 cal)
– 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped (4 cal)
– 2 tablespoons tomato purée (20–46 cal)
– 50g strained full-fat Greek yogurt (48–65 cal) or coconut yogurt (28–98 cal)


1. Place all the paste ingredients in the beaker for a stick blender (or a tall jug: you don’t want chilli or garlic in your eye). Blend together until the whole mix is thick and fragrant. If using ready-made paste, stir 3
tablespoons into the yogurt, adding a little extra turmeric and garam masala if you have them. Place the mixture in a sealed plastic container until needed.
2. Mix the paneer or tofu into the paste to coat. Let it marinate in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight if you have time.
3. Fry the onion, pepper and tomatoes in the coconut oil in a medium saucepan for 2 minutes. Now add the paneer/tofu and paste to the pan with 50ml water. Cook, stirring gently, for 4–5 minutes until the sauce
thickens. Stir the last bit of yogurt through just before serving. Add the coriander as a garnish, or serve with cauliflower rice.


– The second portion keeps in the fridge (but maybe padlock it in the meantime, it’s that delicious). For a halloumi version, make the tikka paste and fry with the vegetables and tomato sauce.

– In a separate non-stick frying pan, fry 100g of reduced fat halloumi (230 cal) in ½ teaspoon of oil, until browned on both sides. Add to the curry sauce and serve immediately – halloumi is salty so doesn’t need extra seasoning.

Panner/Tofu Tikka Masala


Kate Harrison is the author of 17 fiction and non-fiction books, including The 5:2 Diet Book, The Secret Shopper’s Revenge, and the Soul Beach trilogy for teenagers. Her newest book is 5:2 Veggie and Vegan – after 3 decades as a veggie, Kate knows her greens! Kate loves to cook, to read and to travel. She’s lived in the Netherlands and Spain, before settling by the seaside in Brighton.

Taken from 5:2 VEGGIE & VEGAN by Kate Harrison, published by The Orion Publishing Group Food photography by Faith Mason, author photography by Chris O’Donovan.

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