Chilli Tofu

Chilli Tofu

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?

vegan chilli paneer

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.

Enjoy, all!

Chilli Tofu


Chilli Tofu
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indo-Chinese
Serves: 6
  • 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
  • 1 tsp cornflour mixed into ¼ cup water
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari (can use soy sauce instead)
  • Salt to taste
  • Green, leafy coriander for garnish, about ¼ cup chopped
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp tamari (can use soy sauce instead)
  1. Mix the ingredients with enough water to make a paste. Toss the tofu cubes in it to coat.
  2. 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.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tsp of oil and add the cumin seeds. When they sputter, add the ginger and garlic and onion.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!”

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

IAVW: Chinese. The Roundup.

If you thought that you’d been there and eaten that when it came to Chinese food, this roundup of It’s A Vegan World: Chinese is going to make you think again.

Here’s an array of dishes so fabulous, so creative and so diverse, I challenge any one of you aficionados of Chinese food (and who isn’t one?) to find something you’ve never had before– and try it!

Thanks to all of you who cooked for this event. As some of you might have noticed, I did not announce a theme for this month, but that’s because I am going to make IAVW an occasional event from now on instead of a monthly one. I’m too busy right now with a new job and I want to make sure I do justice to your hard work when I announce and put together these roundups. I also know that this event is a great resource for many vegans out there, so trust me, I’ll be announcing a new theme in a month or two.

Until then, feast on this. And if you haven’t already, do go back and take a look at past editions of IAVW, including Moroccan, Thai and Indian. We’ve got something for everyone.

Enjoy, all!

Sangita’s Tofu Dumplings

Priyasuresh’s Vegetable Fried Rice

Nandini’s Scallion Pancakes
Nithya’s Chinese Dumplings

Malini’s Chilli Soya

Graziana’s Steamed Baos

Champa’s Gobi Manchurian

Cham’s Almond Cookies

As always, please let me know if I missed you, or if the links aren’t working or correct. The recipes are in reverse alphabetical order, so please be mindful of that as you look through for your dish.

Have a great weekend, all!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegetable Kung Pao

Desi and I had our friend, Roshani, over for dinner the other night. Roshani’s a fan of Indo-Chinese cuisine, so picking out what I would cook for her was a breeze. And it was also perfect because as you know this is Chinese month here at Holy Cow! when we celebrate all food Chinese

Among the dishes I made were Vegetable Kung Pao which you are bound to find on any Indo-Chinese restaurant menu. While Kung Pao is a dish originally from China’s Schizuan province, Indian cooks have for years now adapted it to suit local tastes

I love cooking Chinese because it gives me a chance to add a plethora of colorful, healthful vegetable to almost any recipe. Also, the strong, vibrant flavors of all those sauces and vinegars and oils would, I think, make it difficult even for a meat-eater to miss the meat.

One tip for Chinese cooking: try using vegetable stock in soups and any saucy dishes because the stock adds a richer dimension and flavor to the final result

This is a short post on a busy day, but before I go I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving, and hope yours will NOT include death and suffering in the form of a cruelly slaughtered, stripped and stuffed turkey. This is a time to be grateful for everything that’s right in our world. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than with a delicious vegetarian or vegan meal that boosts health instead of weighing it down with cholesterol.

There are thousands of delicious options, and if you need more than what this blog and dozens of other vegan blogs have to offer, you can check out the New York Times which has been posting vegetarian options for Thanksgiving on its Well blog. Martha Stewart recently did a show on a vegetarian thanksgiving which you can watch here

Also, check out my vegan Thanksgiving feast with an Indian flavor from last year.

And now for the Kung Pao. One note on this– the recipe includes lot of heat with three different kinds of chillies, so if you don’t like your food hot, feel free to leave out everything but the red chillies that go in at the beginning of the recipe.

Enjoy, all!

Vegetable Kung Pao


1 red onion, chopped

1 carrot, cut on a bias in thin discs

10-15 mushrooms, halved or quartered if large

1 small head broccoli, separate into florets. Peel the larger stems and cut them into discs.

2 red or green bell peppers, chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

(Tip: It is important that all your vegetables be roughly the same size when you chop them so they will cook evenly. Make those veggies that take a little longer to cook, like carrots, a little smaller. You can use all kinds of veggies here, including cabbage. You can also add some tofu, cut in cubes, just before you add the cornstarch.)

2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water

1 tbsp sesame oil

2-3 red chillies, broken into 1-inch pieces

2 tsp garlic paste

2 tsp ginger paste

1/4 cup peanuts, toasted lightly on a skillet and then coarsely chopped

4-5 scallions or green onions, chopped

Mix in a bowl:

2 cups vegetable stock or water

1/4 cup soy sauce or more to taste

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

1 -2 tsp hot chilli sauce like Sriracha

2-3 green chillies (optional, and only if you like a lot of heat)

Heat the sesame oil in a wok or other large nonstick skillet.

Add the red chillies and saute for a minute or so until they start to darken.

Add the ginger and garlic pastes and saute for a few seconds.

Add the vegetables and stir-fry on high heat, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Now add the stock-soy sauce mixture in and allow it to come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer a couple of minutes or until the veggies are cooked but have a good bite to them. You don’t want your vegetables to turn soft and mushy.

Add the peanuts and stir in. Now add the cornstarch-water mixture, one teaspoon at a time, until you have a sauce that’s fairly thick. Do NOT add the cornstarch at once– watch your recipe closely and add only as much as you need.

Check for salt and add if needed. Add the scallions and give it a quick stir. Turn off heat and serve hot.

Now for a quick prod to all of you cooks out there to get cooking for It’s A Vegan World: Chinese. We still have nearly a week to go, and I am waiting for many more entries. So stretch off that lazy streak and get cooking!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Gobi Manchurian (low-fat) And Stir-Fried Noodles

Two diverse cuisines hobnobbing together can produce some pretty tasty results, and a great example of that is Gobi (or Cauliflower) Manchurian.

We Indians have had a long love affair with Chinese food. Long before the ’90s brought fast-food chains and their inevitable pizzas and burgers and other junk food pouring into Indian cities, it was Chinese food that most of us wanted when we craved something exotic and different. The food was in a cuisine class of its own and quite likely bore no strong resemblance to real Chinese cuisine since it was heavily adapted for our flavor-seeking tastebuds. At restaurants I have eaten stir-fried noodles seasoned with dry red chillies and mustard seeds and gravied Chinese dishes smothered in Indian spices like coriander and cumin.

Cauliflower Manchurian is one of the more popular products of Indian-Chinese cuisine and it has always been one of my favorites, with its sour-spicy notes and the crispy florets of cauliflower that melt in your mouth. Typically the cauliflower is deep-fried, which gives it that great crunch. Now while I do like to indulge in some deep-fried food once in a while, I also like to keep my meals pretty healthy most of the time. So I baked the cauliflower instead, saving on the fat calories, and the result was still delicious. In fact, I swear that the sauce is so flavorful, you’d never notice that the cauliflower was not deep-fried first. But if you do want the extra crunch, you can always choose to deep-fry the florets in my recipe.

To go with the manchurian I made some stir-fried Udon noodles. These couldn’t be simpler– they take minutes to make and taste great and they’re loaded with veggies. Udon noodles are wheat noodles that are typically used in Japanese cuisine, but here I cooked them the Indian-Chinese way. Talk about fusion!

I got the noodles as well as some of the condiments with a $30 coupon I received from Foodbuzz and Asian Food Grocer, an online food store. In a vegan kitchen, Asian foods can be invaluable because they offer so much flavor, but you do have to be careful because many sauces and pastes contain animal ingredients. The Asian Grocer Web site displays the ingredients for each product online, which was very helpful.

Here are the recipes. It’s a busy afternoon, so bye for now. Enjoy, all!
Cauliflower Manchurian

1 medium head of cauliflower, separated into medium-sized florets (you don’t want to make them too small or they’ll turn mushy too soon)

6 tbsp cornstarch + 1/2 cup water or more as needed to make a runny paste

1 tsp red chilli powder

Salt to taste

2 tsp canola or sesame or other oil

Grease a large baking dish. Dip each cauliflower floret into the cornstarch paste and place it on the baking dish in a single layer. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked but still crunchy and lightly browned.

(If you choose to deep-fry, heat oil — at least an inch deep– in a skillet and then deep-fry the florets a few at a time until they are golden-brown)

To make the sauce:

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 medium green bell pepper (capsicum), thinly sliced

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

3 tbsp low-salt soy sauce

2 tbsp vinegar

2 cups water

2 tbsp cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water

1 tbsp sugar

Salt if needed

Heat the sesame oil and then add the ginger and garlic paste. Stir fry for a minute until the ginger and garlic smell fragrant, not raw, and then add the onions and bell peppers.

Saute for a couple of minutes, then add 2 cups water and soy sauce. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar and salt if needed, then add the cornstarch-water mixture and allow it to simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add the cauliflower florets and stir well to coat. Turn off the heat after a couple of minutes.

Garnish with chives or chopped spring onions, if desired.

Stir-Fried Udon Noodles


1 9.5-oz packet of Udon noodles

1 cup thinly shredded cabbage

1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, cut into thin strips

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp or more as needed of low-salt soy sauce

1 tsp hot sauce like Sriracha (optional)

1 tbsp vinegar

Cook the noodles according to package directions until they are cooked but not too tender. You need them to be al dente in order to be able to stir-fry them without turning them into a paste. Drain, rinse in cold water, and spread on a plate to cool.

Heat the sesame oil in a large pan or preferably in a wok.

Add the onions, stir-fry for a moment, then add the remaining veggies.

Stir-fry quickly over high heat for about 2-3 minutes until the veggies start to get tender but still have a bite.

Now add the soy sauce and vinegar and hot sauce, if using.

Stir together, then add the noodles. Using a pair of tongs, stir-fry the noodles for another 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with chopped spring onions if desired. Serve hot with the Gobi Manchurian.

Also, try my Chinese Fried Rice.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Chinese Fried Rice
Do you know where Saturdays go?

To me, Saturday’s the best day of the week. There’s still a whole day between now and Monday, PBS is running all those wonderful cooking shows all afternoon, and the comforting hum of the neighbor’s lawnmower is keeping me company as I type and watch and wonder what to do with those two overripe bananas sitting in my pantry. As you can see, I am not averse to multitasking when all the tasks involved are fun :)

Saturdays are also special to my dogs. Almost as if they can count the days, they wake up on Saturday as if magically aware it’s the day they will get a super-long walk, as opposed to the shorter walks on weekdays when mommy and daddy are too tired and too busy.

But there’s one problem I have with Saturday: it goes away too soon. And then I have to wait a whole week for another one.

Before this Saturday slips and slides away, I wanted to write about this fast, basic and easy but delicious dish that’s great for Saturdays when I’m having way too much fun to think about spending a long time in the kitchen. Chinese fried rice.

When making Chinese fried rice, it is really important– and I can’t stress this enough– to make sure that you work with rice that’s at least a day old. Rice that’s freshly made will stick to the wok and turn into mush, but day-old– or, as in my home sometimes, days-old– is tougher and the grains will slide smoothly in the wok, giving your fried rice the perfect texture.

I add plenty of veggies to my fried rice, and sometimes I scramble soft tofu and add it too. It is also important to chop the veggies in roughly the same size and shape so they cook together.

Also, and this is again important, have all your ingredients on hand and ready because you will have the wok on high heat and you don’t want to prep your ingredients as the rest of them are burning.

This was fun, but I’m going to get back to Jacques Pepin now. I do love the way he “shops” an onion. Have a great long weekend, everyone. And here’s to long, lazy Saturdays– may we have three each week!
Vegan chinese fried rice

Chinese Fried Rice
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious vegetarian Chinese fried rice recipe
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 6
  • 2 cups boiled short-grain rice (the rice has to be at least a day old)
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into thin strips, about 1-inch long
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips, about 1-inch long
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 scallions or spring onions, greens cut into 1-inch pieces and whites sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame or canola or other vegetable oil
  • In a bowl, mix together:
  • 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce like Sriracha
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  1. Heat the oil in a wok or a large skillet with sides that taper out.
  2. Over high heat, add the onions and stir for a minute. Add the garlic, stir for 10 seconds, then add the remaining vegetables.
  3. Stir-fry the veggies until they begin to get just tender but you want them to remain quite crispy. Do not leave them unattended as they might burn over the high heat.
  4. Add the rice and stir fry for a few seconds. Then add the tamari-vinegar-ginger sauce and stir together well.
  5. Stir-fry for a couple minutes more. Add more tamari or vinegar if needed.
  6. For other delicious rice recipes, check out my
  7. Peas and Mushroom Biryani
  8. , or my
  9. Raisin and Nut Pilaf
  10. Serve hot.


Lovely Lucy

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.