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Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

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This Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu pairs authentic Indian flavors with a creamy pumpkin-coconut sauce made from whole pumpkin. It’s protein-packed and hearty, vegan and gluten-free, yet so creamy.
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 30 minutes
4.9 from 35 votes

I recently asked my audience on Instagram “what content of mine or what recipes of mine do you like best?” I was pleasantly surprised that the #1 response was Indian recipes! The #2 response (easy weeknight friendly recipes) did not surprise me, but I did not expect Indian recipes to be the #1 response. And amongst the categories of recipes that people answered (e.g., pastas, tacos, lentil recipes), curries was another top answer!

Of course, this was not a scientific poll, and there’s probably some sample selection bias. But, I ran with that and decided that my next new recipe should be an Indian curry! Hence, this Pumpkin Curry with Tofu!

Everyone’s favorite fall ingredient—pumpkin—meets warming Indian spices in this creamy and hearty tofu curry!

I had an Indian pumpkin curry at a restaurant many years ago and loved it. It’s not a dish my mom made growing up, but I knew it was something I wanted to recreate. Indian pumpkin curry is typically served as a side dish, but I wanted to bring some heft and heartiness and turn it into a main dish.

Why you’ll like this Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

Fall comfort food. This pumpkin curry is hearty thanks to the tofu, creamy thanks to pumpkin sauce and coconut milk, and warming thanks to the Indian spices. Hello, comfort food weather!

Extremely flavorful: It’s packed with flavor thanks to the sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, along with a generous dose of Indian spices.

Nourishing: Just as my Vegan Curry with Tofu, This pumpkin lentil curry might be dangerously delicious and indulgent, but it’s also quite nourishing. The garlic and ginger bring antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the pumpkin is high in Vitamins A and C and potassium, and the tofu makes this a protein-packed meal. Plus, you’ll stay full for hours due to the high content of healthy fat from coconut milk.

If you’ve already tried this curry and like it, I suggest you try this Thai Butternut Squash Curry next. It’s got some similarities but a different enough flavor profile to keep you interested.

And if you’re looking for an appetizer, I highly suggest gobi manchurian (fried if you’re being naughty, baked if you’re being healthy).


Ingredient Rundown

Whole pumpkin. The beauty of this recipe is that the whole pumpkin gets used in two ways. First, sliced pumpkin halves get simply roasted with oil, salt, and pepper until tender. For one half of the pumpkin, use a knife to score the flesh, then scoop out the cubes (or simply remove the peel and cut the flesh into cubes).

For the other pumpkin half, scoop out the flesh and add it to a blender. Once pureed with water, salt, and pepper, it turns into a luscious creamy pumpkin sauce that will help thicken the curry.

So, the curry has a pumpkin-coconut base and whole pieces of pumpkin!

Indian spices. As with many Indian dishes, I use a mixture of whole and ground spices. First, I dry toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and black mustard seeds; once fragrant, I crush them in a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder).

If you don’t have whole cumin or coriander seeds, check out the “substitutes” section below.

Later in the recipe, ground spices—turmeric, cinnamon, and nutmeg—get added. And at the end, I stir in garam masala for a unique touch of warmth, heat, and sweetness.

Aromatics. And like most Indian recipes, this curry features my four favorite aromatics: onions, ginger, garlic, and green chili peppers. Sautéing these ingredients in oil is just one way of layering depth of flavor into this curry.

Coconut milk. As mentioned, the base of this curry is pumpkin-coconut. I use full-fat coconut milk for the creamiest texture, but you could substitute “lite” coconut milk if you’re trying to shave off a few calories.

To make your own “lite” coconut milk, mix together 1 part full-fat canned coconut milk with 2 parts water, stir together until well combined. Then measure out 13.5 ounces (400 mL).

Tofu. I use extra-firm tofu and boil it in salted water. If you’ve made my palak paneer with tofu recipe, you know how much boiling the tofu improves the texture! It makes it chewy and similar in texture to paneer, an Indian soft cheese used in many creamy curry-style dishes.

Green Beans. Because I want this curry to be a full meal, I also threw in some green veggies. I chose green beans because they have a short cook time, but they’re totally optional in this recipe.


How to make this Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Roast the pumpkin at 400°F for 35-40 minutes until tender. Once cool enough to handle, score the flesh of one half of the pumpkin and scoop out the pumpkin cubes.

Scoop out the flesh of the remaining pumpkin half and add to a blender to make the pumpkin sauce. Season with salt and pepper and add water. Blend until creamy and thick.

While the pumpkin is roasting, slice the tofu into cubes. Then add to boiling salted water for 2 minutes and immediately drain.

While the pumpkin is roasting, dice the onions, as well as the ginger, garlic, and Serrano peppers.

chop onions garlic ginger chili peppers (1 of 1).jpg
chop onions garlic ginger chili peppers (1 of 1).jpg

Toast the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat until fragrant. Then, roughly crush in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder (I was out of mustard seeds when I took these photos).

Heat up the oil in the same frying pan and add the diced onions, and cook until lightly browned.

Add the garlic, ginger, and Serrano peppers and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and nutmeg for 30 seconds.

Pour in the pumpkin sauce and coconut milk and stir to combine. Then add in the roasted pumpkin cubes, green beans, and salt.

Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the curry starts to thicken. Add the boiled tofu and gently simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until green beans are tender but not soggy and tofu is heated through.

Finally, stir in the garam masala, lemon juice, and cilantro.

Watch! How to make Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu
Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

Tips for Making this Pumpkin Curry

Use a sugar pumpkin, aka pie pumpkin, not one of the large pumpkins used for carving. Those have very little flavor or flesh and shouldn’t be used for cooking. Sugar pumpkins typically weigh between 2 and 4 pounds. I use a medium-to-large sized one for this recipe (weighing between 3 and 3 3/4 pounds).

The most flavorful Indian recipes use a mixture of whole spices and ground spices, so if you have mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds, use those. You’ll toast them until fragrant, then crush in a mortar and pestle.

If you don’t have these spices, just omit the mustard seeds and use ground cumin and coriander. The exact amounts are listed in the “substitutes” section below and in the Recipe Note.

Speaking of spices, if you have fresh nutmeg, use that instead of pre-ground. It has more intensity of flavor!

Once the roasted pumpkin has cooled, the skin will be really easy to peel. You can take off the peel, then slice one half into cubes. Or, you can leave the peel on and score the flesh with a knife, then use a spoon to scoop out the cubes.

When blending the other half of the roasted pumpkin, if the mixture does not come together, add a touch more of water as needed. The end result should be a fairly thick, creamy puree.

If you don’t have a deep large frying pan, use a Dutch oven instead.

To stretch this meal further, serve it over rice or your favorite grain, or with a side of Indian flatbread.

Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu. Indian pumpkin curry with tofu, coconut milk, and green beans.
Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu. Indian pumpkin curry with tofu, coconut milk, and green beans.

Substitutes for this Pumpkin Curry

As mentioned above, if you don’t have whole cumin seeds and coriander seeds, you can use pre-ground cumin and coriander. You won’t get as much depth of flavor, but it’s still very tasty (and cuts out two extra steps).

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds = scant 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds = 1 teaspoon ground coriander

Unfortunately, there’s no real substitute for black mustard seeds (except for brown mustard seeds), so if you don’t have those, just omit them.

If you can’t find a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin or if standard pumpkin isn’t your thing, you can easily substitute with butternut squash, Hokkaido pumpkin (red kuri squash), or even kabocha squash. Just try to find a squash that’s around the same weight (3 to 4 pounds).

Kabocha squash needs about 40-45 minutes in the oven at 400°F (or 204°C). I prefer to roast butternut squash at 425°F (or 218°C) for 45-55 minutes, depending on size.

If you can’t find serrano peppers are sensitive to spicy food, you can substitute with jalapeño peppers, which have a much milder heat.

While this is a curry with tofu, if you are allergic to soy, I’d recommend using chickpeas instead (one 15-ounce can).

I included green beans to add some extra color and veggies to this curry, but they are optional. Or, you can substitute them with small broccoli florets or asparagus spears. Or, you could add frozen peas!

Even more delicious curries you might like:

In the mood for even more delicious curries, here are some I think you’ll love:

If you give this Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Big Vegan Flavor

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Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

4.9 from 35 votes
This Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu pairs authentic Indian flavors with a creamy pumpkin-coconut sauce made from whole pumpkin. It’s protein-packed and hearty, vegan and gluten-free, yet so creamy.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4 to 6


  • 1 medium-to-large sugar pumpkin, aka pie pumpkin (3- 4 pounds, or 1.4-1.8 kg)*
  • Neutral-flavored oil of choice for roasting and cooking (I used avocado oil)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Spices and Aromatics

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds**
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds**
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Serrano peppers, diced (omit the seeds for a mild version; I used 2 peppers with seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pumpkin Sauce

  • 1/2 of of the roasted pumpkin
  • 1 cup 240 mL water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 (13.5-ounce / 400 mL) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 (14- or 16-ounce / 400 – 454g) block of extra-firm tofu
  • 8 ounces (227g) green beans, trimmed & sliced in half (slice long beans into thirds or fourths) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, plus more to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more to garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (or 204°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pumpkin in half using a large sharp knife and rocking motion. If it’s too tough to slice, pop it in the microwave for 30 – 60 seconds to slightly soften. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.
  • Roast the pumpkin. Drizzle the pumpkin halves with a bit of the oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Place the halves, flesh side down, on the lined baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, until the flesh is fork tender and lightly browned. Meanwhile, prep the rest of the ingredients.
  • While the pumpkin is roasting, boil the tofu. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Drain the tofu and pat with paper towels to remove excess water. Chop the tofu into cubes. Add tofu to the boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil, boil for 90 seconds. Use a strainer to remove the tofu from the water and drain immediately, or gently drain over a colander. Set aside.
  • Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, the skin should be easy to peel off. Take one roasted pumpkin half and use a knife to score the flesh into cubes. Set the pumpkin cubes aside. For the other half, scoop out all of the flesh using a spoon and add it to a blender.
  • Make the Pumpkin Sauce: in the blender with the pumpkin, add 1 cup water, 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, and black pepper to taste. Blend until smooth – the texture should be a relatively thick puree. If needed, a bit more water until it comes together.
  • Cook the aromatics. Heat a deep, large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds and toast until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer to a mortar and pestle and roughly crush, or grind the spices in a spice grinder. Add these to a bowl with the other ground spices – turmeric, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
    1. NOTE: if using pre-ground cumin and coriander, just toast the mustard seeds and don’t crush them (leave them in the pan) and move on to step 7.
  • Heat the same pan over medium-high heat and then add 1 ½ tablespoons of neutral-flavored oil. Once shimmering, add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté until they just start to turn brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, green chilies and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing frequently. Add the ground spices—freshly ground or pre-ground cumin and coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and nutmeg— and cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  • Pour in the Pumpkin Sauce and coconut milk, and stir until well combined. If the mixture starts to boil, lower the heat. Add in the roasted reserved pumpkin cubes, green beans, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the curry starts to thicken. Add in the boiled tofu and gently simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until the green beans are crisp-tender and the tofu is heated through.
  • Add the garam masala, lemon juice, and cilantro, and stir to combine. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly, adding more salt, lemon juice, or garam masala as needed. Garnish with additional fresh cilantro, if desired.


* You can substitute the pumpkin with butternut squash, Hokkaido pumpkin (aka red kuri squash), or kabocha squash. For instructions on these, see the blog post section entitled “Substitutes.”
** If you don’t have whole cumin seeds, substitute with a scant 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin. If you don’t have whole coriander seeds, substitute with 1 teaspoon ground coriander. Add them when you add the other ground spices in step 7.

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 956mg | Potassium: 1661mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 29119IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 8mg

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4.86 from 35 votes (13 ratings without comment)

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68 comments on Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

  1. Joanne

    Admittedly I adjusted the recipe to the ingredients I had in my fridge but WOW! This is seriously delicious. I didn’t have firm tofu, so I added my soft silken tofu in the blended sauce. Great addition. I added some tinned beans as I didn’t have fresh but I did have one small carrot and 2 heads of broccolli, so I steamed them and added them near the end. Other than that, I followed the recipe carefully :) soooo good :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Joanne, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  2. Giannis

    2 stars
    I followed the recipe, i resoected the measurements, i didn’t use any substitutes, and even the it just tasted… off.
    I have made plenty of coconut milk based curries before, and i have made pumpkin sabji, spiced pureé, and things like that. this curry had every ingridient in order for me to like it, but i didn’t.
    The spices just didn’t seem to go together, they clashed. i felt like a war of flavours was taking place in my mouth, each one attacking the other.
    I had to add toasted sesame seeds and nutritional yeast in order to enjoy.
    Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad. I was just waiting for it to blow y mind and it didn’t

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Giannis. Your review is appreciated.

  3. Harleen

    4 stars
    I made this and though I don’t like the sweet taste of pumpkin very much, I enjoyed this dish. The lemon really brought out a different flavor profile. Thanks 😘

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Harleen, we appreciate the honest review! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Erin

    5 stars
    Another delicious recipe from Nisha! I used one can of pumpkin to make it quickly and my whole family enjoyed it! I just added water as necessary as it was cooking. When I have more time I will roast the pumpkin and try it again. Thanks!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Erin. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  5. Nelly

    5 stars
    Thanks again for yet another amazing recipe. I made this last night with some crooked neck squash I had handy and used broccoli instead of green beans since I had that too. It was so delicious! My family loved it. I felt like my taste buds had a wild explosion when I took my first bite. I will definitely be making this again.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Nelly! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

  6. Jeanette Holder

    Loved this dish. It takes a bit of time, but is well worth it. Very filling and I will certainly make it again. Thanks.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jeanette, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  7. Charmineh Pullara

    Hi! How much pumpkin puree does the recipe yield? I want to see how much canned puree I would need to make this a quicker week night meal sometimes! Thanks

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Charmineh, I’m not 100% sure on this, but according to our research, a 3-pound pie pumpkin yields about 2 cups of pumpkin puree. That’s roughly the amount in a standard 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree. Keep in mind that canned puree is thicker than homemade puree, so you may need to add a bit more water to the pumpkin sauce or the curry as it cooks.

  8. Yolanda

    5 stars
    I’m just enjoyint it!
    Thanks a lot for this perfect fall recipe.
    Easy to make, not too long, I may have add to much liquid, feel mora like a soup… but delicious anyway :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We are happy to hear you enjoyed the curry, Yolanda! Thank you for your review.

  9. Sanne

    I’ve made this recipe before and loved it. I wanted to know how can I make it in the instant pot ?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so glad you love it! We haven’t tried making this in an Instant Pot ourselves so we aren’t sure how it would go. Sorry we couldn’t be of more help!

  10. J. Turvey

    5 stars
    Just had to take some time to compliment the creator here… truly an outstanding recipe! It’s rare I take time to review, but this recipe was so well rounded with flavor that I had to share that every ingredient and amount is spot on and it is worth the time to make (usually I have to tweak recipes for lack of flavor, salt and acid)! I went to bed thinking about eating it for lunch today!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hey, J! Wow, I can feel your enthusiasm about this recipe through the screen! Love it! Thanks for the awesome review :)

  11. Alina

    5 stars
    Absolutely spot on! I love green beans and firm tofu. I had a squash since fall waiting for a miracle to happen and finally I used it up in this recipe. Thank you for your thoroughness in recipe and method descriptions – it’s always a pleasure to read.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re happy you were finally able to use that squash, Alina! We’re happy to provide the blog post with all the tips, thanks for trying the curry :)

  12. wendy adamson

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh!! Looks so amazing and Im gonna make it soon!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Wendy, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  13. Kathy

    5 stars
    Really delicious and easy!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Kathy!

  14. KiKi

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe (except those beans need to be blanched before adding them to pan)! Make sure that you use a GIANT skillet or halve the recipe—it yields A LOT of delicious, healthful pumpkin curry.

  15. Donna S

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!!! Used butternut squash and it turned out great!! Thanks for another great recipe!!!

  16. Rachael

    This was DELICIOUS, but I can’t find any advice on how long to store it in the fridge. What do you recommend?

    1. Hannah Hairston

      Hi Rachael,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe so much! It’s so full of flavor, I can’t get enough! It’s probably best eaten within 3 days of making, if it lasts that long :)

  17. Vincent

    5 stars
    I substituted sweet potato and it worked out perfectly!!! Nisha, your recipes are always to die for. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Vincent!

  18. Anne-Marie

    5 stars
    Can’t wait to try this. I’m always excited to try one of your recipes since they are all so so. 5 🌟 I prefer to try the ones that I can freeze so I can share them with my daughters who are back to university and don’t have much time to cook. Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Anne-Marie! We hope you love the curry :)

  19. Miriam

    Dearest Nisha,
    Your recipes are BEYOND DELICIOUS! My 15 year-old daughter regularly makes amazingly special dishes from your website and this evening I made your Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu. My 20-year-old daughter said it was one of the best meals she had ever eaten.
    Thank you for sharing your incredible talent with us, if you ever are in the SF Bay Area, you must come stay with us!
    Best Regards

    1. Nisha

      Hi Miriam, you are too sweet! I am honored you and your daughter make my recipes and so thrilled you both loved the pumpkin curry. Thank you for your sweet and generous offer and love! I appreciate the support :)

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