Punjabi street food is full of legendary non-veg dishes that sometimes make us vegetarians and vegans a little jealous. But slammin’ Dhaba cuisine can also be made with Soya Chaap (soy sticks), which work perfectly to replace meat, without being as challenging to make as great quality homemade seitan.
When I say that the sauce around these tender seared chunks of soy meat is seductively aromatic, I am not exaggerating. This is a recipe that’s been extensively tweaked, tested and retested to fill your home with authentic Punjabi curry flavor. This Soya Chaap, with its robust, saucy profile, is a pure vegetarian riff on a quintessential Dhaba favorite.
But what truly makes this sabji rock so hard, is when you serve it over a steaming pile of veg. Biryani or turmeric rice with your favey pickles (mine are amla ka achar, and avakaya pachadi). I promise you it is better than chicken, and the chickens certainly agree!
Get ready to smash a plate of veggie desi heaven. Let's get cooking!
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
✊Vegan AF: This Punjabi Soya Chaap Curry is not just delicious; it’s also a win for animals who aren’t harmed to make it. That’s how all food should be!
🥸 Fool-proof Method: With our easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions with clear photos of every detail and dialed-in measurements, you’ll nail the flavors and textures on your first attempt, whether or not you are a confident cook (yet). This thing is so full of flavor, it is like it has its own chutney built in. You can’t go wrong with what you pair it with for dinner.
✅ Tested and Approved Worldwide: Just like all the recipes on my blog, this sabji, I have meticulously tweaked this recipe to perfection, and then it has been rigorously tested by a global team of recipe testers. It’s a recipe that works seamlessly, no matter where you are in the world.
🌿Notable ingredients and substitutions
Soya Chaap, also known as “Soya Chunks,” is a versatile plant-based protein made from soybeans. It is made by forming a soy protein isolate dough and wrapping it around a wooden stick. The wrapped sticks are marinated and then cooked by boiling or steaming. These little drumsticks are then canned, and submerged in flavorful liquid or sauce. Afterwards, the cans undergo sterilization to ensure safety and shelf life.
It’s a staple in modern vegetarian Indian cuisine, adding a meaty texture to vegan dishes, much in the way I do with seitan in my vegan butter chicken recipe. If you can’t find canned or frozen soya chaap, use seitan, young green jackfruit (which you can make Kathal ki Sabji out of), or rehydrated soy curls to get a similar texture.
Jaggery is an unrefined sugar commonly used in Indian cooking. It’s made from sugarcane or date palm sap and is known for its distinct caramel-like flavor. In this recipe, I recommend using vagary powder, not the block-style jaggery, which can be difficult to measure accurately. Brown sugar, palm sugar, or coconut sugar make good substitutes.
Dried Fenugreek Leaves
Kasuri Methi is a popular herb in Indian cuisine. I am embarrassed to say that I’d been cooking Indian dishes for over 20 years before I started using it, and it is a game changer. I don’t know what is wrong with me that I never messed with it in the past, but I am glad I finally did! So fragrant and lovely.
Garam Masala powder is a warming spice blend that’s a cornerstone of Indian cooking. I use it in my turai ki sabji and my chana masala recipes. If you can’t find any, make your own blend with equal parts of cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and cloves.
*See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for exact quantities, nutritional info, and detailed cooking directions.
Makrut Lime Soya Chaap Curry: Add a spoonful of tom yum paste to the curry base to add some subtle Thai notes to the overall flavor. Add market lime leaves and Thai bird’s eye chilies to the tadka and have yourself some hyper-flavorful fusion.
Spicy Soya Chaap Masala: If you love heat, mince some pickled green chilies and add them to the curry base for some fire. You can also add additional ginger garlic paste to make the dish more pungent.
📖 How to make this soya chaap recipe like a pro
Become a gosh-darned prodigy of vegan cooking by following these step-by-step instructions with important tips. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
In a mixing bowl, blend unsweetened plant-based yogurt, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt for the marinade.
Get rid of the center wooden sticks, and slice the Soya Chaap into 1-inch (2.5cm) thick sections. Coat the soya chaap in the yogurt mixture and let them marinate under refrigeration for at least 4 hours or overnight.
In a blender, combine quartered tomatoes, garlic, diced onion, grated ginger, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and your choice of sweetener with unsweetened plant-based yogurt. Blend until a smooth paste forms.
Heat cooking oil in a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat for about 90 seconds. Add marinated Soya Chaap, cooking until golden brown (approximately 7-9 minutes), turning occasionally.
➡️ Make sure to use a metal spatula to scrape up and recombine whatever good stuff is caramelizing onto the bottom of the pot every couple of minutes.
Add diced onions, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, cilantro, and salt. Sauté for another 4 minutes until onions become translucent and fragrant.
Pour the blended mixture into the pot with the Soya Chaap, stirring thoroughly. Simmer for an additional 6-8 minutes to thicken the gravy.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat cooking oil for the tadka over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, grated coconut, and curry leaves. Sizzle and infuse the oil for about 90 seconds until the seeds pop.
Serve the Soya Chaap in an attractive dish, drizzle with the tadka, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, and serve with some coconut rice.
Don’t let your Soya Chaap Sabji get lonely and sad.
For a classic combination, ladle it generously over a bed of fragrant Basmati Pilau or aromatic Turmeric Rice. Adding a cup of Arhar Dal, or Chana Dal bumps up the protein, and the flavors are insanely good.
A common misconception is that Indian food is too carb-heavy. Serving the soya chaap along with veg sabjis like Saag Aloo, Dry Bhindi, aviyal, olan, peerkangai kootu and parval sabji are here to prove that idea to be wrong as heck!
Perfect the Soya Chaap Marinade: Ensure that the Soya Chaap sticks are thoroughly coated in the marinade and allow them to marinate for at least 10 minutes. If you have more time, let the soya chaap sit in the marinade under refrigeration for 8 hours, or overnight, and even more will absorb in.
Tempering with Tadka: The tadka (tempering) at the end adds an extra layer of flavor. Ensure the mustard seeds splutter and the curry leaves become crisp. This enhances the aroma and taste of the dish. Of course, if you are trying to avoid consuming too much fat, you can omit the tadka, and this sabji is still crazy-flavorful.
I don’t think this is a terribly spicy dish, but you can totally reduce the amount of Kashmiri red chili powder in both the marinade and blended ingredients, and adjust the heat to your preference.
Certainly, you can substitute fresh fenugreek leaves for dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) to add a milder, herbal flavor.
Tofu, seitan, soy curls, store-bought vegetarian “chicken”, or tempeh can be used as a substitute for Soya Chaap if you prefer a different plant-based protein.
Yes, this recipe is gluten-free if you use gluten-free soy sticks, and ensure that all the ingredients, including spices, are gluten-free certified.
After preparing this dish, store any leftover Soya Chaap Curry in an airtight glass or stainless steel container in the refrigerator. It can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. Avoid freezing, as it may alter the texture of the Soya Chaap.
🔥 Stovetop Reheating:
Place a non-stick pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
Add the refrigerated Soya Chaap Curry to the pan.
Stir gently to prevent sticking and ensure even heating.
Heat until the curry is thoroughly warmed, which usually takes about 5-7 minutes. Adjust the time as needed.
☢️ Microwave Reheating:
Transfer the refrigerated Soya Chaap Curry to a microwave-safe bowl.
Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate or lid to prevent splatters.
Microwave on medium heat for 1-2 minutes at a time, stirring between intervals.
Continue until the curry reaches the desired temperature.
🤏 Garnish: It’s a nice idea to garnish the reheated dish with some fresh cilantro or additional tadka to spruce it up visually.
✌️My faves to serve with this dish:
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Punjabi Soya Chaap (Vegan dhaba style curry)
Soya chaap and marinade:
- Cilantro leaves
- In a mixing bowl, combine unsweetened plant-based yogurt, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
- Cut the Soya Chaap into 1-inch (2.5 cm.) thick slices, discarding the stick in the center if there is one. Mix the slices into the marinade, ensuring they are well coated. Set them aside to marinate under refrigeration for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- In a blender, add quartered tomatoes, garlic cloves, diced onion, grated ginger, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, the sweetener of your choice (jaggery, coconut sugar, palm sugar, or brown sugar), and unsweetened plant-based yogurt. Blend the ingredients until you have a smooth paste.
- In a thick-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat cooking oil over medium heat for 90 seconds. When the oil is hot, add the marinated Soya Chaap pieces to the pan. Cook them until they develop a golden brown color, turning them occasionally. This should take about 7-9 minutes.
- Add the ½ cup of onion along with the garam masala, fenugreek leaves, chipped cilantro and salt. Continue to sauté for 4 minutes until the onions become fragrant.
- Pour the blended mixture into the pan with the Soya Chaap. Stir well to combine. Continue to simmer for an additional 6-8 minutes, allowing the gravy to thicken.
- In a small pan, heat cooking oil for the tadka (tempering) over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, grated coconut, and curry leaves. Let them sizzle and infuse the oil with their flavors for about 90 seconds until you hear the seats popping and sputtering.
- Place the soya cheap into an attractive serving dish, pour the tadka over it, and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.