Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Did I Make Tonight? Indian Style Tofu and Vegetables

Here's a great example of, "I found a recipe that looked good, but I didn't really follow it." I was looking for something new to do with tofu, since I had four blocks of it in my refrigerator, and my son liked the sound of this "Indian spiced peas with tofu" we found. It didn't sound like it would be enough for everyone, and I didn't have exactly the right ingredients, so I used it as a jumping-off point and created my own dish around it. The method below is what we ended up doing.

One thing I need to remind you of is that I rarely actually measure spices and whatnot. I eyeball it until it looks/tastes right. So any measurements I give you are approximate and you can adjust according to your taste and the quantity of food you're making. Don't be afraid to experiment. You might sometimes over- or under-salt, or it might be too spicy or too bland, but you'll get a feel for how much of a given spice or herb you like, and then you'll get it right every time.

  • Olive or canola oil
  • One block of extra firm tofu
  • Two tbsp corn starch
  • One 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • Bag of frozen peas (16-ounce)
  • Half a bag of frozen corn (so, like half a cup of corn?)
  • Three to four tbsp curry powder (you can find curry powder in the spices section of your grocery store)
  • One to two cups white long-grain rice and twice as much water
  • One medium-sized onion (any kind - yellow is best), sliced (make half-moons and separate the layers)
  • Ginger - about 1 tbsp powdered or 1/2 tbsp fresh (minced) - according to taste; if you don't like ginger, leave it out or use less!
  • 1/2 tsp vegetarian powdered soup base (I used Osem brand Onion Soup Base, but mushroom or chicken flavored would also work very well) and about half a cup of water OR half a cup of prepared vegetable stock/broth
  • Large skillet
  • Large pot with lid
  • Stirring spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Juice glass or measuring cup
  • Paper towels
  • Plate
  • Slotted spoon
  • Put about two tablespoons of oil in the skillet and turn the burner up to MEDIUM-HIGH
  • Take tofu out of package and dry well with paper towel. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Put tofu cubes into mixing bowl and sprinkle with corn starch, then toss the tofu in the corn starch to coat
  • When the oil in the skillet is hot, add the tofu and fry until browned on all sides (flip occasionally - about five to 10 minutes). If the tofu doesn't all fit, do it in batches.
  • Slice your onion
  • If using fresh ginger, peel and mince the ginger. 
  • When tofu is browned, remove from skillet with slotted spoon and place on a paper towel on a plate to drain.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the hot skillet.
  • Put the sliced onion and the ginger in the skillet along with two to three tablespoons of curry powder. Saute the onion until translucent, about three to five minutes, stirring often
  • Add whole can of tomatoes, including juice, to the skillet. Add half a cup of broth or water. If using water, also add half a teaspoon of soup base (for flavor, optional).
  • Let simmer for 5 minutes, then add in frozen corn and peas and add the tofu back in.
  • Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring often.
While the tofu is browning during the above process, start the rice:
  • Put a tablespoon of oil in the other pot and place on burner on HIGH.
  • When oil is hot, add rice and toast for two to three minutes, stirring often. I added curry powder to the rice for flavor, but this is optional. Do add some salt.
  • For each cup of rice you used, add two cups of water to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, stir, then reduce temperature to LOW and leave it, COVERED, for 20 minutes. (See the Basics article for my rice-cooking method in more detail.)
  • After 20 minutes, all liquid should be absorbed but the rice should be moist. Turn OFF the burner, stir rice with a fork, replace cover, and leave until ready to serve dinner.
Serve the tofu-and-tomato thing over the rice.

We actually also added a bag of Morningstar Farms Grillers Crumbles along with the tofu to increase the volume and protein content. This fed four of us (me and three kids) with more than enough left over for my lunch the next day. You could also use ground beef or chicken in place of or in addition to the tofu. Brown the meat in oil instead of the tofu step, then do the rest the same way.

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