Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Vaishali · This post may contain affiliate links · 18 Comments

Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

Total time: 20 minutes minutes

A creamy, smoky recipe for Tempeh Stir-Fry in a gingery coconut sauce.

Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (1)The other day, I sat down to try andexplain playback singing to Jay.

Tasveeer Teri Dil Mein was playing on YouTube, and Jay, in the midst of coloring a dragon, was transfixed by the black and white images on screen. Rafi, he said, pointing to Dev Anand.

By now, I have transferred to my otherwise very American son a deep love for Hindi oldies, and especially for the songs of Mohammad Rafi who was unarguably India's greatest playback singer and something of a genius. Rafi'sversatilevoice, which could emote and express better than the countless actors on screen that he sang for, including Dev Anand, often keeps me company while I work, cook, and clean around the house. Desi, a huge fan himself, often teases me -- not unfairly -- for being an encyclopedia on the singer.

Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (2)
Playback singing happensless frequentlyin Hollywood, but in Bollywood, where nearly every movie is a musical, it's a norm. Early on in the life of Indian cinema, music directors realized that marketable looks did not necessarily go hand in hand with musical talent, and separated the twocleanly. The practicestuck and to date, in Bollywood movies,actors do not actually voice the songs they are seen singing on screen.

The playback singers are huge stars, almost as big and marketable as the actors they sing for. When a movie, andits songs, becomes a hit, the singer inevitably gets paired with the actor in following movies, becoming the actor's "voice." So Rafi was Shammi Kapoor's voice. Mukesh was Raj Kapoor's voice. For a while, for some inexplicable reason, the talented south Indian singer S.P. Balasubramanian was a rather vapid looking Salman Khan's voice. I once heard Dev Anand tell an interviewer that Kishore Kumar was his voice. You get the picture?

So I wrapped up my little talk on playback singing, and Jay nodded vigorously and somewhat impatiently. I get it, mom. Thenone of his favorites started to play on the screen. Khoya Khoya Chand! he yelled excitedly and rather cutely, with a distinctly American accent. Next, he pointed to arubber-limbed Dev Anand flailing around on the screen, lip syncing, and yelled: Rafi!

Okay, so maybe I didn't do such a good job of explaining playback singing to Jay. But Dev Anand, even my seven-year-old knows better who was your voice.


Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (3)If you're unfamiliar with Bollywood and its songs, that little slice of our life perhaps didn't make a lot of sense. But I have for you today a recipe that definitely will, because if there's one thing that transcends language and culture, it's almost certainly food.

This Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Gingery Coconut Curry Sauce is creamy and smoky and sweet and spicy, all at the same time. The creaminess and the sweetness comes from coconut milk, the spiciness from the ginger and a hint of cayenne, and the smokiness comes from roasted red peppers. Because so many of these ingredients require very little or no cooking, the recipe itself comes together in 20-25 minutes, making it a weeknight dinner winner.

But it is versatile, kinda like Rafi. 🙂 You can bowl up this Tempeh Stir-Fry with quinoa and some sauteed kale. Or scoop it up with a crusty bread. Or drizzle it over some brown rice and roasted sweet potatoes. If you don't have tempeh, or would rather not use it, you can substitute with tofu. Cut it into cubes and proceed the same way as you would with the tempeh.

You just cannot go wrong with this recipe.

Related recipes

  • Easy Pepper Mushroom Stir-Fry
  • Mushroom Potato Stir Fry
  • Chilli Tofu
  • Nepalese Tempeh Choila
  • Savory Herbed Vegan Tempeh Stew

Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (4)

Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (5)

Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Gingery Coconut Sauce

A gingery, spicy, creamy recipe for Stir-Fried Tempeh in a Gingery Coconut Sauce. Roasted red peppers add smoke to the dish, and onions and coconut milk add sweetness.

4.88 from 16 votes

Print Recipe SAVE RECIPE

Course: Side

Cuisine: Indian fusion

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 10 minutes mins

Cook Time: 10 minutes mins

Total Time: 20 minutes mins

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 210kcal

Author: Vaishali · Holy Cow Vegan


  • 8 oz tempeh (cut into ½-inch cubes)
  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 roasted red peppers (roughly chopped)
  • 2 teaspoon ginger (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala (or curry powder)
  • ½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro (chopped)


  • Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a nonstick wok or karahi and stir-fry the tempeh until it turns lightly golden on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining oil and add the onions and ginger. Add a smidgen of salt and stir fry, until the onions turn translucent.

  • Add the turmeric, cayenne, coriander powder and garam masala or curry powder. Mix well.

  • Add the roasted red peppers and the reserved tempeh, stir-fry for another minute, then add the coconut milk and mix well.

  • Warm the mixture through and turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.

  • Serve hot.


Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Potassium: 395mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 214IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg

Tried this recipe?Please leave a comment and recipe rating below!

Follow Holy Cow Vegan on Instagram


Vegan Garlic Herb Bread (Pull Apart Loaf) »

Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (6)

About Vaishali

Hi! I'm Vaishali, a journalist turned food blogger. At Holy Cow Vegan I share easy, tasty recipes made with clean, wholesome ingredients that the entire family can enjoy.

Reader Interactions


    Leave a comment:

  1. Tom

    Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (7)
    Hi Vaishali, this recipe was great, it was honestly one of the best things I've ever cooked. Thanks a lot. I only used about 1 teaspoon of coriander - is the recipe amount of 1 tablespoon correct?
    Greetings from Australia!


  2. shae

    Do you use jar roasted peppers? Which brand? Can I instead use regular colored peppers.


    • Vaishali

      Hi, you can use either--jarred work just as nicely as peppers you roast yourself. And yes, any color peppers are fine!


  3. Sanna

    Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (9)
    This is a nice recipe, just tasting very vegan and healthy. I would probably add more spice and fat.


  4. Alex

    Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (10)
    Just made this. It was okay, but it just seemed a little lacking. I think it could have used more sauce, so maybe doubling the spices and putting in a whole can of coconut milk might help? (BTW...I always used light coconut milk - much healthier and I can't tell much of a difference) It would be a radically different flavor using garam masala, which I tend to think of as a finishing spice. Using a homemade Madras curry powder along with the cayenne certainly gave it a pleasant kick!


  5. Evan

    Would you reccommend full fat or is light coconut milk ok?


    • Vaishali

      Full fat is better -- use less. Light coconut milk is just watered down and devoid of flavor.


  6. Aeli

    I love everything tempeh! This seems like a simple recipe but actually is quite flavorful. I used garam masala, will try with curry powder next time.


  7. Alysson

    Was looking for a good tempeh recipe and found your site. Good food and I also loooove Bollywood!


  8. Sandy

    I made this today. I love tempeh and wanted to try something different. It is quite tasty. Thank you for sharing the recipe


  9. Dev

    Excellent receipe!! I would love to try this. Do you know where to buy Tempeh from in Mumbai. I have reasearched online but could not find. I asked in several super markets too, and none of them seem to have heard of this. It would be great help if you can provide some info on this. Tempeh has B12, which is what most other vegan food lacks, so I am really trying hard to lay my hands on Tempeh. Thanks a ton if you can help!!


    • Vaishali

      Hi Dev, I don't live in India, so unfortunately I can't answer this. Hoping some reader could help? Tofu's of course, not the same, since it's not fermented, but you could try using that as a substitute in this recipe.


  10. onesonicbite

    Do you play the newer Bollywood films or just stick to the older ones? I think I prefer the older songs since the new ones aren't my style. I do find it a little funny how popular playback singers can get. Usually when people get their voices used for dubs/voiceovers they get cut out of pop culture.


    • Vaishali

      Almost exclusively the old ones. In the '80s, with Bappi Lahiri's disco era, Bollywood music pretty much went south. Although I will confess that some of those songs now sound better than the crap we're doling out today.


  11. Ambica

    This totally cracked me up; and Jay knows his music


    • Vaishali

      😀 He really does. He loves old Geeta Dutt songs too, also my favorites. It's cute when he sings Ja ja bewafaa.


Tempeh Stir-Fry in a Coconut Sauce - Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes (2024)


Do you need to steam tempeh before frying? ›

Steaming the tempeh will remove some of the bitterness before cooking it further. This step isn't always necessary, especially if you're pairing the tempeh with a boldly-flavored sauce. You can steam tempeh using a steamer basket in a saucepan or a microwave-safe dish covered with water or vegetable broth.

Why boil tempeh before cooking? ›

Simmer the tempeh to soften the flavor.

Before using tempeh in any recipe, you can soften its bitter flavor by simmering the cubes for a couple minutes in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. An alternative to simmering: set a steamer basket in a pot and steam the cubes for 10 to 15 minutes.

How do you make tempeh moist? ›

Use any marinade you like, and be sure to add some salt as well. Marinades are typically made up of 3 components: acid, oil, and additional flavors. Acids, such as vinegar or citrus juice, begin to break down the proteins so they're tender and absorb more flavor. Oil keeps the protein — in this case, tempeh — moist.

What is vegan tempeh? ›

Tempeh is a plant-based protein source that originated in Indonesia. It's made from fermented soybeans that have been formed into a block, though store bought tempeh often includes additional beans and grains. Though it's known for its high protein content, it offers a host of different health benefits.

Can you eat tempeh straight from the package? ›

Fresh tempeh should look more or less like beans that have been pressed into a beige and white cake. It should not have any black or colorful molds on the surface. Tempeh must be cooked before it's eaten, so many recipes call for steaming the cake first, both to kill the culture and to add moisture.

Does store bought tempeh need to be cooked? ›

Packaged tempeh is pre-cooked so you can easily enjoy it right from the package (on sandwiches, salads, etc), but I highly recommend cooking it so that it tastes better. A lot of people suggest steaming the tempeh before marinating or cooking to help remove any bitterness.

Why does tempeh taste weird? ›

But where does the bitter taste that can ruin tempeh recipes come from? According to Home Kitchen Talk, bitterness may build up in tempeh because of too much fermentation or how vinegar was used during tempeh production.

Is tempeh better for you than tofu? ›

Tempeh contains the most fiber and more protein than tofu because it contains the whole bean. The soy protein in tempeh is more digestable because of the fermentation process.

How do you add flavor to tempeh? ›

Tamari, to give a nice golden color and depth of flavor, Liquid Smoke, Smoked Paprika, and Black Pepper, to add more umami-goodness, a touch of Maple Syrup, to help caramelize the Tempeh, and some Vegetable Bouillon (or Veggie Broth) for extra liquid and flavor.

What does vinegar do in tempeh? ›

vinegar (like apple cider vinegar): adding vinegar creates an acidic environment. This is important to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria. a warm place: like an incubator or simply an oven with the light on. Temperatures of 30-37°C (85-98°F) work best to make tempeh.

Why add vinegar to tempeh? ›

The acid from the vinegar helps to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria. Add the tempeh starter: Sprinkle the tempeh starter over the beans and mix well to evenly distribute the starter throughout the beans.

Is Trader Joe's tempeh fermented? ›

Trader Joe's tempeh is a delicious and nutritious plant-based protein option that is perfect for vegetarians and vegans alike. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great source of protein, fiber, and probiotics.

Is there a downside to tempeh? ›

You should avoid tempeh if you have a soy allergy. There is some concern that soy may affect how your thyroid works or how you absorb thyroid medication. To be safe, you should talk to your doctor about eating tempeh or other soy products if you have a thyroid disorder.

Is it OK to eat tempeh everyday? ›

It's completely safe and healthy to eat up to two to three servings of soy products, such as tempeh, daily,” says Palmer. Of course, if you're allergic or sensitive to soy, you'll want to avoid it.

How long to boil tempeh before frying? ›

Place sliced tempeh in a saucepan and cover with water or vegetable broth. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the tempeh and proceed with marinating, grilling, baking, or otherwise seasoning and cooking it.

Do you have to cook tempeh before eating? ›

Tempeh should be cooked before being eaten and should not be eaten raw. Prior to being cooked, tempeh has almost no nutritional value and doesn't have a very pleasant taste. Before adding tempeh to anything you should cook it to ensure you get the most flavor and nutrition out of your food.

How do you cook tempeh without killing probiotics? ›

Doesn't cooking tempeh kill the good bacteria? Just on the outside. As long as the internal temperature doesn't get too hot the probiotic stimulators will remain alive. That's why we recommend you don't cook in the microwave.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Last Updated:

Views: 5522

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Birthday: 1997-10-17

Address: Suite 835 34136 Adrian Mountains, Floydton, UT 81036

Phone: +3571527672278

Job: Manufacturing Agent

Hobby: Skimboarding, Photography, Roller skating, Knife making, Paintball, Embroidery, Gunsmithing

Introduction: My name is Lakeisha Bayer VM, I am a brainy, kind, enchanting, healthy, lovely, clean, witty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.