I love it when I can find irony in the most unlikely places– like my Chilli Tofu.
Chilli Tofu is based off an Indo-Chinese recipe called Chilli Paneer. This is a spicy, saucy blend of Indian spices and Chinese condiments, and the star, of course, is the paneer, an Indian cottage cheese that’s usually sold in blocks, just like tofu.
Paneer is a bland cheese that soaks up the flavors of the curries and gravies it is added to, as does tofu. They even have similar textures but the tofu, of course, is far healthier. I’ve posted other recipes before that use tofu instead of paneer, like my Palak “Paneer” and Tofu Makhani.
Now here’s the fun part. While substitutions usually have the effect of taking a dish away from its roots, this time, as I swapped the tofu for the paneer for my Chilli Tofu recipe, I realized that the modification makes this dish even more Chinese. Get it?
So here’s my recipe for Chilli Tofu in all of its modified glory– a surefire winner that would give the original a run for the rupee any day. It’s a healthy, protein-rich, low-fat dish full of flavor and zest, and it would pair perfectly with some Mandarin Pancakes or with some white rice.
1 block extra-firm tofu (swaddle in paper towels and place in a colander for 30 minutes with a heavy weight on top, like a saucepan, to press our any water.). Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and coat with the marinade (recipe below).
1 large green bell pepper, sliced (you can use other colors, but I just love the flavor of green pepper in this dish)
1 green chili, like serrano, minced
3 tsp canola oil or sesame oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 tbsp soy sauce.
1 tsp cornflour mixed into 1/4 cup water
1-2 tbsp tamari (can use soy sauce instead)
Salt to taste
Green, leafy coriander for garnish, about 1/4 cup chopped
For the marinade:
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp tamari (can use soy sauce instead)
Mix the ingredients with enough water to make a paste. Toss the tofu cubes in it to coat.
Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a nonstick or cast-iron pan. Saute the tofu cubes on all sides until they are golden-brown. Remove to a plate.
Heat the remaining 1 tsp of oil and add the cumin seeds. When they sputter, add the ginger and garlic and onion.
Saute until the onion becomes transparent. Now add the coriander powder, black pepper, and minced green chilli. Toss to coat with the spices and then add the green pepper.
Stir-fry until the bell pepper starts to soften but still has a good bite to it. Now add the tofu cubes and toss them with the spices. Add the tamari or soy sauce and the cornflour mixed with water (this will give the tofu a nice glaze). Stir until well mixed and remove from the heat.
Toss in the coriander and serve hot.
I love poppies, not just because they’re gloriously beautiful but because they remind you that patience has its rewards.
I planted this glorious Oriental Poppy in my yard last year and then forgot all about it. When the plant shot up this spring Desi looked at the hard, ugly buds and insisted it was a weed. After several weeks of willing the buds to open I was getting inclined to agree. Then one Sunday morning I opened the front door to get the newspaper and there was the most gorgeous flower I’d ever seen: large, showy, brilliantly red, with delicate, crepe-like petals. It was a little miracle.
The poppies are long gone but I will never tire of telling Desi, I told you so.
Thanks to all of you kind folks for sending your love and best wishes to Lucy. She’s doing well, in good spirits, and we’re giving her lots of hugs and kisses — and treats — to let her know she has a lot to live and fight for.
She sends you all a big wag of her bushy, fox-like tail and a very friendly “Woof!”