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Tofu Curry

This image courtesy of Brave New Pictures, Inc.

This dish was one of my biggest surprises. The soy yogurt mixed perfectly with the spices and provided the much-needed moisture and texture that dairy yogurt does for traditional Indian curries. The tofu was an unexpectedly delicious addition, especially when baked first. You can also use unbaked tofu, but it will have a softer texture, which I liked but which did not make the cut with my more discerning husband. Make it both ways and decide for yourself.

NotesBaked Tofu:

1. Set an oven rack at the highest position, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. Sprinkle garam masala over one side of the tofu strips.

3. Place the tofu with the unseasoned side down on the baking sheet. Spray lightly with oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the tofu slices, season them with the remaining garam masala, and spray lightly again with oil. Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the pan from oven, let the tofu cool for 5 minutes, and cut it into cubes. Use the baked tofu immediately or store it for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator for use later. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months.

Asafetida (Asafoetida, Hing): Also known as devil’s dung, asafetida is quite fragrant and incredibly pungent. It is collected from the large roots of a tall, smelly herb as a resin-like gum that is then dried and sold in solid lumps or as a powder. Uncooked, asafetida has a strong, overpowering smell, so it should always be stored in an airtight container. The key to using asafetida is to add a little bit to heated oil in order to break it down before you mix it in with your dish. Asafetida is believed to aid digestion and to help prevent gas, especially when used in bean and lentil dishes. Don’t worry about the smell-it goes away as it’s cooked, leaving you with a warm, even flavor that tastes a bit like leeks to balance out your dishes. You just need a pinch, because a little goes a long way.

2 cups (474 mL)

Cooking Methodsauteeing

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturespiced, umami

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow or red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 (2-inch [5-cm]) piece ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 medium tomato, quartered
  • 2-3 green Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, halved
  • ½ cup (19 mL) plain, unsweetened soy yogurt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi), lightly crushed in your hand to release their flavor
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida (hing) (see Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 (2-inch [5-cm]) cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods (lightly crushed)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ½ cup (119 mL) water
  • 1 (14-ounce [397-g]) package extra-firm organic tofu, baked and cubed (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, process the onion, ginger root, garlic, tomato, and chiles to a smooth, slightly watery paste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

  2. Add the yogurt, salt, garam masala, fenugreek leaves, and red chile powder. Mix well.

  3. In a deep, heavy pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

  4. Add the asafetida, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Cook for 30 seconds, until the seeds sizzle.

  5. Add the soy yogurt mixture and the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. (This step is key. The spices need to cook and blend evenly into the other ingredients.)

  6. Add the tofu. Simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the whole spices, garnish with the fresh cilantro, and serve immediately over a bed of brown or white basmati rice.

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