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.

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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!

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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66 comments on Vegan Pumpkin Curry with Tofu

  1. Irene

    Hi. Going to try this recipe soon.
    Is it possible to freeze it?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Irene, yes you can freeze it in individual portions in airtight containers for easy reheating later!

  2. Natalie

    Hi – I want to make this amazing recipe for Thanksgiving, but we have a lunch to go to and then would want to bring this curry to a different dinner afterward. Is it possible to make it ahead and reheat it there? Would I just chill it and then reheat it in the oven, or how? Or would it be too soft and thick? I would appreciate any guidance! :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Natalie, we’re thrilled you want to bring this recipe to your Thanksgiving! You could cook this curry a few minutes less than on the instructions and when you’re at the Thanksgiving Feast, put it back in a pot and finish up the last few minutes of the cooking process and that should work fine! Good luck :)

  3. Ananya

    5 stars
    I made this recipe for my roommates and they loved it! It’s like a mix between Indian and Thai (because of the coconut). Loved it, so flavorful and aromatic. Will definitely make it again. It was a time consuming recipe, usually Indian recipes are…but it could also be I’m just very slow in the kitchen !

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Ananya! Happy to hear you enjoyed the curry :)

  4. Yana

    5 stars
    Just made this and it’s absolutely delicious! Used kabocha and some sweet paprika peppers instead of green peas and it worked wonderfully!
    Would definitely be making it again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Yana!

  5. Katja

    5 stars
    I just made it and it was really good. Wonderful flavors.
    I added some chickpeas and a sweet potato.
    I will definitely make it again ❤️

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Delicious, Katja! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kaye Forrest

    I don’t see CURRY as an ingredient? Am I missing something?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Kaye, not all curry requires curry powder! After all, curry powder is just a mix of seasonings. Everything in the “spices and aromatics” section combines to make the delightful spiced curry!

  7. Lina Patel

    5 stars
    OK. Must try. Sounds amazing so preemptively giving it 5 stars. But also: what kind of pan are you using? I need to get rid of the stainless steel pans I have! Also, can I use my cast iron for this? Please add some cast iron recipes (if that’s a thing lol). Thank you!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Lina, we hope you love it!

      Here’s a link to a great quality Le Creuset cast iron skillet. You can even add acidic ingredients to it, unlike normal cast iron pans:

      Here’s another link to a 10″ Stone Earth PFOA-free pan Nisha used in these photos!

      A couple cast iron recipes we have on the blog include this grilled corn salad: as well as Spiced Chickpea Tacos with Cilantro Pesto (the second recipe on this blog post):

      We hope you enjoy!

    2. Celia Oyler

      Can you tell me why you are getting rid of your stainless steel pans? I understand why we don’t want to cook using aluminum or non-stick pans that have carcinogens, but what’s wrong with stainless steel?

  8. Michele

    4 stars
    I made this recipe and it did not disappoint! I substituted butternut squash and it was delicious, as most all of the other dishes I have made from You Tube and your website. You’re my favorite vegetarian/vegan Indian food go to for something delicious and healthy. One suggestion for the next time I make this is to steam the green beans first or blanch them in the boiled water from the tofu.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for your review, Michele! Glad we are a good resource for vegan Indian food :)

  9. Steph

    Is it possible to use canned pumpkin in addition to fresh or frozen pumpkin cubes?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Steph, sorry for the late reply. That should work!

  10. Kim

    I have to try this. I just made the pumpkin farroto from your cookbook and it changed my life!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We hope you get the chance to make it, Kim! And we are thrilled you loved the other recipes :)

  11. S

    5 stars
    The curry was a huge hit! Very wholesome and delicious. I used butternut squash and it turned out great.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, S!

  12. Hadinda

    5 stars
    This is so good! Creamy, fragrant, fresh from the green beans. Overall very delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hiba Jampolsky

    Hi Nisha
    I made your recipe and it came out deliciously amazing. I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin as you suggested. Not only do I love Indian food but I have been to India. Thank you

  14. Nancy Reich

    Every year, the day after Halloween, I salvage a few whole pumpkins from my neighborhood. I roast them, and puree the inside. Then I measure two cups of pumpkin puree in each freezer bag, so I have enough to make muffins and cakes the whole year. So here’s the question, how much pumpkin puree do I need exactly?

  15. Milly

    This was delicious!! Used kombucha squash instead of pumpkin. I have really missed paneer recipes since switching to vegan a couple years ago, so this was such a treat!

  16. Athena Palmer

    5 stars
    I made this recently and OMG another hit, Nisha! So yummy, fun, and the boiled tofu is a delight w the texture of the pumpkin & green beans. Def going to be a regular appearing fall staple!

  17. Shannon

    This was delicious ! The texture is creamy and spiced perfectly. Have you ever made it with low fat coconut milk? I’m concerned it might not taste the same if I do.

  18. Maneesha

    5 stars
    Soo delicious! I love this curry! The spice combination is spot on, and the addition of freshly roasted pumpkin and tofu is fabulous! Thanks Nisha!

  19. Linda

    Can you please make this recipe suitable for the instant pot?

  20. H

    Another ridiculously fantastic recipe. The pumpkin/cinnamon/nutmeg combo was a nice twist on the more traditional curry base. I don’t have a mortar and pestle so I fried the whole spices in the oil before adding the onion and then left them whole. I also cut the coconut milk to 1/3 the written amount and the flavor was still great, though not “restaurant-curry rich.” Might try this again on a busy night with canned pumpkin instead of roasted pumpkin in the sauce and other veggies (peppers, cauliflower) instead of roasted pumpkin cubes.

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