Life & Style

Manna From Heaven

Actor turned award-winning author, low-waste chef and digital dynamo, Max La Manna is the culinary creative whose easy approach to cooking has captivated an audience of over 1.2 million online. Who better to share a comforting dish for a chilly spring eve.

More about Max

Max began his culinary career making dough in a pizza restaurant, before turning his hand to acting. Living in New York City, working in a notoriously fickle industry, food remained a source of comfort, and Max taught himself how to cook simple, affordable dishes that use as much of each ingredient as possible. Combining his on-camera experience and passion for food, he began sharing these low-waste recipes online.

What began as a hobby born of necessity has blossomed into a flourishing career, and today Max’s viral videos have racked up over a billion views. His print debut, More Plants, Less Waste, was named Most Sustainable Cookbook at the 2020 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, while Max himself is a favourite to win 2023’s Digital Creator of the Year at the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards – a gong he first scooped last year. His latest delicious offering, You Can Cook This! is published next month, and while you await its arrival, tuck into this tasty tofu treat…

Max's Tofu Butter Chicken
Max's Tofu Butter Chicken

Tofu Butter Chicken

“This is one of my most popular recipes. Pressing the tofu removes excess water, and coating it with cornflour gives it a crunchy, golden exterior when baked in the oven. Paired with the vibrant, creamy sauce, it’s winner-winner (tofu) chicken dinner! This dish is surprisingly quick and easy to make – ideal for nights when you don’t feel like cooking but you crave something warm and comforting.”

Ingredients for the curry

● 3 tbsp butter – I’m using a plant-based version

● 1 large onion, quartered

● 1 tbsp fresh ginger

● 3 garlic cloves

● 1 tbsp garam masala

● 1 tbsp ground coriander

● 1 tbsp cumin seeds

● 1/4 tsp chilli powder

● 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

● 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

● 3 tbsp tomato paste

● 1 x 400g tin full-fat coconut milk


● 450g extra-firm tofu

● 2 tbsp corn starch

To serve

● toasted coconut flakes

● yoghurt – I’m using coconut yoghurt

● fresh coriander and stems

● fluffy basmati rice

● freshly baked naan


Cut the tofu in half. Wrap each half in a clean tea towel. Stack something heavy on top – such as a weighted pan – and leave for 10-15 minutes to press the liquid from the tofu. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Tear the tofu into smaller portions to resemble pieces of chicken. Place them in a mixing bowl with cornflour and gently toss to coat the tofu pieces. Spread the tofu pieces across the baking tray and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the edges start to brown, flipping halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blitz the onion, garlic and ginger to a paste. Toast the spices in a large frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then stir in the paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the butter, salt and pepper, and stir, cooking for 3-4 minutes until the onion mixture is soft. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the coconut milk, stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes.

When the tofu is brown and crispy, take the sauce off the heat and add the baked tofu. Serve with toasted coconut flakes, yoghurt, fresh coriander, fluffy rice and flatbreads.