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Tandoori Tempeh

Tandoori Tempeh

Tired of tofu? You’ll love this easy Tandoori Tempeh! It’s healthy and delicious, air-fried to perfection, and perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Tandoori Tempeh Recipe

Indian cooking is all about big, bold, and beautifully colored spices. That’s one of the reasons it’s so delicious. The Indian food I make at home is usually a dal or curry of some kind, but recently, this Tandoori-style tempeh recipe has been on repeat. 

Especially since it’s high in protein, can be made in under 30 minutes, and uses so many great spices from my spice cabinet!

sliced tempeh on a white plate
Steaming the tempeh first allows it to absorb more marinate (aka FLAVOR!)

What is Tandoori Tempeh? 

Similar to Tandoor chicken, this tempeh version starts with a spiced yogurt sauce that acts as a marinate. I mix vegan yogurt (CocoJune is my favorite) with flavorful spices such as turmeric, cumin, and ginger. 

Then I cut tempeh into thick strips and steam it for about 10 minutes. Then I toss the tempeh and yogurt sauce together to get a nice, even coating and place the sliced tempeh in an air fryer for about 10 minutes. Since we steamed it first, the tempeh will absorb a lot more of flavor!

cooking tempeh in a pan

While it cooks, the Tandoori marinade becomes intensely flavorful and aromatic. You’ll know it’s done when the outside is lightly browned and crisp around the edges. 

tandoori tempeh in the air fryer

Tips for Recipe Success

  • Use a thick, unsweetened, plain coconut yogurt like CocoJune. It works very well for this!
  • Stock up on garam masala! It’s a delicious seasoning blend made up of cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and more. Order some online here.
  • Air fry in batches (I usually do two batches) so that I don’t overcrowd the basket. The more room the tempeh strips have, the crispier they’ll get around the edges.

How to Serve 

Serve with steamed rice, mango chutney or cilantro chutney, and a fresh green salad on the side. 

Another idea, although not very traditional, is to use the Tandoori Tempeh strips to make tasty naan or pita wraps. I add crunchy lettuce, mango chutney, thinly sliced red onions, and fresh cilantro. It’s a delicious combination that satisfies!

Tandoori Tempeh would also be a great addition to a grain bowl or kale salad.

Tandoori Tempeh

Nicole Vranjican
Hearty strips of high-protein tempeh, tossed in an Indian spiced yogurt marinade, and air-fried to perfection!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Vegan
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

for the Tandoori Tempeh

  • 16 oz tempeh
  • 8 oz plain + unsweetened coconut yogurt I use CocoJune
  • tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp garlic granules
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt I use Morton's
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes to taste, optional
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

for serving

  • 4 oz plain + unsweetened vegan yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • tsp ground coriander optional
  • pinch of salt
  • mango chutney and fresh cilantro for serving

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Slice the tempeh into 24 strips and place in a large pan that has a lid. Add 1/3 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer until all but 1 tbsp of the water is absorbed.
    Keep the lid on the pan but turn off the heat and let it sit while you make the marinade.

Make the Marinade

  • In a large bowl, add the vegan yogurt, spices, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and then add 1 tbsp of water to thin it out.
    Note: if you're using a thick yogurt (recommended) use the water, but if it's a thinner yogurt like an almond or cashew yogurt, you could swap it for 1 tbsp of olive oil to help it cook better.

Marinate

  • Add the spiced yogurt to the pan with the tempeh and toss gently to coat. Once evenly coated, put the lid back on and let it marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Air Fry

  • Then place half of the tempeh in the air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Cover to keep warm, and repeat with the remaining tempeh.

Serve

  • Mix together yogurt, cilantro, ground coriander, and a pinch of salt to create a quick Cilantro Yogurt Sauce and serve with the tempeh and mango chutney.
    Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy!
Keyword air fried, air fryer, inidan food, marinade, tempeh, tempeh recipes, vegan indian food, vegan yogurt, yogurt

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Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

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6 Comments

  1. Kourtney
    July 16, 2023 / 9:53 pm

    This looks so good, I can’t wait to try it! If we do not typically have vegan yogurt available, would you recommend substituting the yogurt with something like vegan cream cheese or would that not provide the same effect?
    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful vegan recipes!

    • Nicole Vranjican
      Author
      July 17, 2023 / 5:23 am

      Hey Kourtney, I’m glad you’re excited to try this recipe! Couple of things: I do think the coconut yogurt is pretty key for this recipe but you could try using my cashew sour cream in it’s place. I’d reduce the salt a bit, but that should work pretty well. It will be a little different but it might have a similar effect. You can find that recipe here https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=nikki+vegan+sour+cream&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 Another option is to try making the spice paste instead by mixing the spices with a little olive oil to make a paste, and slathering it on the steamed tempeh before baking or air frying. It would make like a spice crust that would be good! I’d still serve it with mango or cilantro chutney for extra flavor and moisture. Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes 😊

  2. Coralie
    January 11, 2024 / 11:52 pm

    Hi, I would love to try this recipe but I don’t have an air fryer. Can I do this in the oven ?
    Thank you !

    • Nicole Vranjican
      Author
      January 13, 2024 / 6:46 pm

      Yes, just bake a little longer until crispy and golden! Enjoy!

  3. Peach
    June 23, 2024 / 2:08 am

    5 stars
    This is first rate! Hubby liked it as much as I did. Had it with some home made mango chutney, spiced brown basmati and garden greens. Thanks for posting.

    • Nicole Vranjican
      Author
      June 24, 2024 / 5:21 pm

      Yay! I’m so happy you liked it! This makes me so happy 🙂 I love this tempeh with Mango Chutney too. The sweetness is so nice with the spices!

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