Skillet Grain Medley with Curried Tempeh

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Season tempeh cubes with curry marinade, and then mound these exotic “croutons” on top of Indian-spiced grains. You can use whatever cooked grains you have on hand, but the texture is more interesting when you use two or three different types.


Make this dish only if you have time to prepare the Cucumber-Mint “Raita” as well, since a soupy accompaniment is needed to moisten the grains and offer a smooth contrast to their chewiness. A side dish of Carrot Slaw with Mango Chutney Dressing adds a welcome crunch. Offer a bowl of Patak’s Brinjal Eggplant Rellsh (this is really good) for those who would enjoy a hit of intense flavor. (You can find Patak’s products in Indian groceries and many supermarkets.)

Microwave any leftovers in a bowl lightly covered with a paper towel or waxed paper. If the grains are quite dried out, sprinkle them with a little water before reheating.

Grating ginger: to grate ginger, use a porcelain grater, available in Asian groceries, or the side of a box grater with rice-sized holes. Better yet, use the terrific rasp sold for grating cheese, available from Cooking by the Book, Inc. (212-966-9799). It’s not necessary to peel ginger before grating it, but do peel before mincing.

4 servings

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, healthy, high fiber, kosher, lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian



Taste and Texturesavory, spiced


  • 8 ounces tempeh (soy or three grain)
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder, such as the one made by Merwanjee Poonjianjee & Sons
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup water, plus more if needed
  • ½ cup grated, dried, unsweetened coconut (available in health food stores)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 3 cups cooked grains (if frozen, pour boiling water over them to partially defrost)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • Cucumber-Mint “Raita”


  1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.

  2. To prepare the curried tempeh: use a fork to prick both sides of the tempeh deeply about 20 times. Cut the slab into ½-inch cubes and set aside.

  3. In a sealable storage container, combine the curry powder, turmeric, salt, grated ginger, oil, and water. Add the tempeh cubes, close the container, and shake gently to coat the cubes evenly. (Most of the marinade will be absorbed instantly.) Set aside for 5 minutes.

  4. Arrange the tempeh in one layer in a nonstick baking pan or shallow roasting pan. (Set aside the storage container and any unabsorbed marinade.) Bake the tempeh for 5 minutes. Toss, and then continue to bake until the cubes feel crisp and dry to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes longer. (Do not bake longer than 12 minutes, as the tempeh will dry out: it may not brown significantly.) Set aside in a warm place.

  5. To prepare the grain medley: Pour the water into the container you used for the tempeh marinade, and blend in any unabsorbed marinade. Heat a large, nonstick skillet and add the coconut, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds. Stir almost constantly until the coconut becomes fragrant and about half of the batch turns golden, 1 to 2 minutes. (Take care as the coconut can burn quickly.)

  6. Immediately pour the marinade water into the pan and stir. Add the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using). Boil gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the grains, peas, and more salt, if needed. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until good and hot, stirring occasionally to prevent the grains from sticking, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in a few tablespoons more water during this time if the mixture becomes dry.

  7. To serve: Mound the grains in the center of large lipped plates or shallow soup bowls. Surround with “moats” of Cucumber-Mint “Raita,” and top with the curried tempeh.

  8. Other Ideas:

  9. Prepare the curried tempeh on its own and stuff cubes into pita with shredded lettuce or chopped, steamed vegetables. Use the “raita” as a dressing.

  10. Crumble any leftover curried tempeh on top of a green salad or steamed vegetables.


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