Vegan Paneer Lababdar with Tofu. Tofu with Luscious Tomato Cashew Ginger Sauce. Use this Delicious Indian Lababdar Sauce with other proteins, chickpeas, veggies, chickpea tofu, tempeh, seitan. Vegan Glutenfree Recipe. Nutfree Soyfree options Jump to Recipe
Oh hey its the 4 year anniversary of my first book Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen! And what better way to celebrate than another amazing North Indian Saucy Entree! This lababdar sauce is a lighter sauce similar to the butter sauce. It can be made without any oil. The tomatoes, spices and cashews and boiled with a bit of water then blended. Onion is then caramelized separately. The tomato mixture + onion + a few spices is cooked down until roasted. To keep the rest of the process simple, I use panfried tofu with the sauce. You can bake the tofu like my butter sauce tofu, or other other proteins such as chickpea tofu, tempeh, seitan. Or just add some chickpeas or veggies. The several stages of cooking the ingredients and the sauce makes it a deeper richer flavor.
This creamy lababdar sauce is delicious, luscious and is freezer friendly! The dish can be made without nuts and soy, see recipe notes after the recipe.
Look at that gorgeous color!
Ingredients Used for Vegan Paneer Lababdar
- Firm Tofu replaces the paneer cheese in this vegan version. Tofu is panfried to crisp a bit before adding to the sauce. You can also use chickpea tofu, seitan and pan fry them. Or use roasted veggies or cooked chickpeas or other beans.
- The sauce begins with cooking the tomatoes, cashews, ginger, garlic, cardamom and clove in water or broth until the tomatoes and cashews are tender. This mix is then cooled and blended. This boiling step allows for reducing the prep time of presoaking cashews. Cooking the tomatoes also help reduce the raw flavor.
- Onions are then caramelized with bay leaves, Coriander, garam masala and cayenne.
- Salt and sugar/sweetener and fresh green chilies round up the flavor. Once the sauce thickens, tofu gets added along with water to simmer for a bit to infuse the flavors.
- Fenugreek leaves are a frequent addition to north Indian, mughlai or restaurant style sauces. The bitter zesty flavor elevates the sauce. Use ground mustard if you dont have fenugreek or just use more garam masala. But as I mention in several recipes, do get some as you will be cooking with them if you cook my Indian recipes :).
Boil the tomatoes with the cashews, garlic, ginger, clove and cardamom. Then cool and blend until smooth.
Panfry the tofu, or bake. Meanwhile, cook the onion and bay leaves in another skillet until onion is golden. Add the blended tomato mixture and cook until it thickens and shines (releases oil), or starts to smell roasted.
Add tofu and water and simmer for a few to infuse the flavor, serve with rice or flatbread or naan.
How to store vegan paneer lababdar and lababdar sauce
- Refrigerate for upto 3 days and freeze for upto a month.
- To use the sauce, simmer with water and added protein or veggies for 10-15 mins.
Why does any Indian recipe I try taste bland or not like restaurant food
- The number 1 reason the flavor doesn’t show up is old spices. Invest in good fresh spices, and the flavor payoff will increase significantly.
- Another big reason is using blends that are not entirely Indian. Indian dishes sometimes rely heavily on flavor from blends such as garam masala or other masala powders. Non indian brands often have westernized blends or the flavor is just not balanced or the blend is very old. Get garam masala from Indian brands or make your own. Its easy.
- Restaurants add a lot more fat, oil, cream, butter (which is of course much more delicious/pleasing, fat also is a great flavor carrier), and that is usually absent in everyday Indian recipes or is used in moderation. I prefer to use much less of those, use vegan versions. You can add more oil and some vegan butter towards the end for additional fatty flavor.
- Restaurants will often slow roast the sauces for a long while so the deep flavor develops. Indian food does need some time and patience for the best flavor result.
- Roasting: there are several points at which the spices get toasted/roasted, onions are cooked, the sauce gets cooked and so on. For many recipes, it is tempting to skip on the time needed at each step. But all that affects the overall flavor. The spices really need to roast enough time to release flavor, onions are very different flavor when just about turning translucent vs golden and starting to caramelize, tomatoes when not cooked enough retain a lot of their raw flavor. Restaurants cook and then overcook at each step.
More Indian Mains from the blog
- Butter Tofu GF
- IP Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce , with Cauliflower. GF
- Tofu Amritsari Masala.GF
- Instant Pot Vegan Butter Chickin(soycurls). GF – Creamy, Delicious
- Mushroom Matar Masala
- Bombay Potato and Peas
- Tofu Pasanda
- Tofu in Spinach Curry – Saag Tofu
Vegan Paneer Lababdar (Tofu lababdar)
- 14 oz (396.89 g) firm tofu ,pressed for 15 mins and cubed
- 15 oz (425.24 g) diced tomatoes or 3 medium
- 1/4 cup (32.25 g) raw cashews
- 1 inch ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) ground cardamom
- 1 whole clove
- 1 tsp oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 medium onion , finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 to 1 tsp garam masala , or use a mix of ground cumin and coriander
- 1/3 tsp (0.33 tsp) cayenne , adjust to heat preference
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) salt , depends on if the tomatoes are salted. I use unsalted tomatoes and 3/4tsp salt.
- 1 tsp sugar or other sweetener
- 2 green chilies , chopped or 1/4 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
- 1 cup (236.59 ml) water
- 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (or use 1/4 tsp ground mustard)
- garam masala, cayenne, cilantro for garnish
- Press the Tofu if you havent already while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Heat 1 tsp oil in a non stick or cast iron skillet. Add cubed tofu and cook until golden on most sides. 5 to 7 mins. Stir occasionally.
- Combine tomatoes, cashews, ginger, garlic and spices in a saucepan over medium heat with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 mins. Cool slightly and then blend. I usually let it cool while I cook the next 2 steps.
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet. Add bay leaves, onion and pinch of salt. Cook until onion is mostly golden.
- Add the spices and mix in. Add the blended tomato mixture and cook for 10 mins or until it thickens a bit and develops a shine.
- Add water, green chilies, salt and sugar and mix in. Add the panfried tofu and mix in and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 mins. Taste and adjust salt, flavor. Add half of the fenugreek leaves and mix in. Take off heat and let sit for 5 mins. Garnish with garam masala and remaining fenugreek and cilantro. (for events, restaurant style flavor, mix a tbsp vegan butter in, and dress with cashew cream/vegan cream). Serve with flatbreads, rice or naan.
- Store the dish or the sauce from 5 refrigerated for upto 3 days, freeze for upto a month. To use the sauce, heat with water, chili, salt, sugar, and protein such as panfried tofu, steamed tempeh, seitan, cooked chickpeas or roasted veggies and simmer for 5 mins to 15 mins depending on the ingredient used.