If you follow a plant-based diet or are looking to consume less meat, this Easy Tempeh Curry with Spiced Chickpeas is a fantastic source of protein. Similar to tofu but with a firmer, meatier texture that has a nutty taste. It’s made of fermented soybeans so it is also great for gut health!
Most of the ingredients needed for this tempeh curry you might already have on hand. Tempeh can be frozen so keep some in your freezer for convenience! I used canned chickpeas but you can use dried chickpeas that have been soaked and cooked. Check out my post on How to Soak and Cook Dried Beans.
- ground cumin, smoked paprika
- coconut, avocado, or olive oil
- red onion
- Indian curry paste (see photo below for the one I use)
- coconut milk
- baby spinach
- Optional garnishes: plain yogurt, sliced red onion, fresh cilantro, lemon wedges, chopped peanuts
This curry comes together in a few easy steps. Step #1 can be done in a skillet if you prefer not to use your oven. The whole recipe can be made ahead and reheated when ready to serve.
- Roast the chickpeas - First, the chickpeas are tossed in spices and roasted in the oven. This makes the chickpeas full of flavour. You can skip the oven and "roast" the chickpeas in a skillet instead. I used the oven so I can pop them in and forget about them!
- Prepare the ingredients - While the chickpeas are roasting, cut the tofu into cubes, chop the vegetables and measure out the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook the tempeh - Heat oil in a skillet and fry the tempeh on all sides until browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside until later.
- Cook the vegetables - Saute the onion, garlic, and tomatoes until soft.
- Add the tempeh, chickpeas, and coconut milk - Return the tempeh to the pan and add the chickpeas and coconut milk. Mix everything together.
- Simmer - Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Continue simmering until the desired thickness is achieved.
- Add spinach and season - Stir in the spinach leaves and continue simmering until wilted. Add lemon juice, taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Here are a few substitutions to make your life easier!
Chickpeas - any type of beans or lentils can be substituted.
Tempeh - use extra firm tofu in place of tempeh.
Indian curry paste - substitute with Thai red or yellow curry paste OR 2 teaspoons of curry powder.
Baby Spinach - use any leafy green you like such as chopped kale or arugula. Kale may require a longer cooking time. Add in during step 10.
Try some of the switch-ups below to add variety to the same dish.
- Tempeh and Vegetable Curry - replace the chickpeas with a favourite vegetable like cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, or a combination.
- Chicken and Chickpea Curry - replace tempeh for cubed chicken breast. Omit the cornstarch and fry the chicken pieces following the same recipe instructions.
- Thai Tempeh Curry - substitute the Indian curry paste for your favourite Thai curry paste. Add chopped peanuts for garnish.
- Spicy - add chopped fresh chili peppers in step 7 and/or add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the roasted chickpeas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is a popular source of protein there. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but the soybeans used for tempeh have been fermented and then pressed into a block. It is also made of whole soybeans which makes it less processed.
Because of the fermentation process, tempeh has a stronger, earthier flavour than tofu. It also has a nutty and chewy texture that stands up well to cooking.
Tempeh is sold in most major grocery stores and is usually found in the refrigerated section where you find tofu or vegan meat replacement products. You can also find it in Asian or health food stores.
Store covered in the refrigerator for 5 days. Freeze for 3 months.
What to Serve with Tempeh Curry
- Cucumber Raita
- Easy Thai Style Cucumber Salad
- Pickled Carrot and Daikon Radish
- Quick Pickled Onions
- Creamy Cauliflower and Celery Root Puree
- Sauteed Lemon Garlic Kale
- 1 (390 ml/14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
- 1 (250g) package tempeh, original flavour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ large red onion. Peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1 medium to large fresh tomato, large dice
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 3 + 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoon curry paste (I used Patak's hot curry paste)
- 1 (398 ml/14 oz can full fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed
- plain yogurt
- sliced red onion
- chopped fresh cilantro
- fresh lemon wedges
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss chickpeas with cumin, smoked paprika, and salt. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
- Cut tempeh into approximately 1 cm/1/2 inch cubes. Toss with cornstarch and ½ tsp. salt.
- Prepare the onion, garlic, and tomato.
- Heat 2 - 3 tbsp. coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add tempeh and fry to brown all sides. Lower heat if browning too quickly. Remove from pan to a bowl or plate.
- Lower heat to medium-low. Add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan.
- Add sliced onions and sauté until softened. 8-10 minutes.
- Add garlic and tomatoes and stir for one minute.
- Add tempeh, chickpeas, and curry paste. Stir to coat everything in the curry paste.
- Add coconut milk and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix everything together.
- Increase heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering for 10 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness.
- Add spinach and stir until wilted.
- Serve with your favourite rice, spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice or zucchini "noodles".