A spicy, tantalizing dish of tofu cubes in a black pepper curry sauce is the stuff of memorable meals. This recipe, a vegan version of Paneer Kali Mirch, a popular north Indian food often served in roadside eateries, is gluten-free. And when made with my basic tomato onion sauce for curries, it comes together in 20 minutes flat in one pot.
I love, love, love the basic tomato onion sauce because it saves me so much time on weekdays — and weekends, when I’d rather spend my time doing things that are fun rather than slaving over the stove. I’ve been sharing recipes with you as I have been making them, and today I have one that’s really special: a vegan version of Paneer Kali Mirch.
This is tofu in a black pepper curry sauce, and it’s so good, you’ll be licking your fingers and asking for more.
And you’ll have your family eating out of your hand (probably literally).
So what’s the basic tomato onion sauce?
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, this is an Instant Pot recipe I shared with you a few weeks back that you can make and store in the refrigerator or freezer, and use to make quick, easy Indian dishes, like Chana Masala, Dal, Saag Aloo and so many more. This is the sixth recipe made with this magic sauce that I’m sharing with you, so if you make a batch, you’ll have plenty of recipes to try it with.
Tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and few spices form the basis of many, many north Indian dishes, including the ones you’ll find on restaurant menus. But chopping and cutting tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger and then cooking them before you add other ingredients each time you cook can be time-consuming. If you make a large batch of the sauce when you have some time to spare (not that it takes much time), you’ll be able to skip through a number of steps and put together tasty Indian recipes in minutes.
Finally, if you’re worried everything will taste the same, worry not. They won’t. The ingredients you add on top of the basic sauce give each dish its own unique flair and flavor, no one will know you made them with the same sauce.
Do I have to use tofu in this recipe?
Paneer Kali Mirch is made with paneer, an Indian cottage cheese, and super firm tofu makes a fine substitute for it. That said, I am all for mixing things up. If you’re soy-free, or do not want to use tofu for any reason, you can certainly try chickpeas in this sauce. They’ll taste quite wonderful.
Just how hot and spicy is this recipe?
Every individual has a different tolerance for heat, and that’s why I always advise you to go with what you’re most comfortable with. Black peppercorns give this recipe its unique flavor — and heat — so use as much or as little of it as you like. I add about a teaspoon, but being Indian-born, my tolerance for spice is probably higher than average. You can and should start out with less and add more ground black pepper to the sauce at the end of the cooking process, if you think it needs a little more oomph.
What do you serve with this Tofu “Paneer” Kali Mirch?
A naan is ideal, but a homemade roti or paratha are just as good. Rice or quinoa work beautifully too.
Serve with a side like my Curried Carrot Salad for a wholesome and delicious meal in minutes.
Let’s get on with the recipe now, and if you have questions, let me know in the comments below. And if you make it, I definitely want to hear. Or take a photo and tag me @HolyCowVegan on Instagram.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- Basic Tomato Onion Sauce for Quick Curries
- Vegetable oil
- Green cardamom pods
- Cinnamon sticks
- Cumin seeds
- Whole black peppercorns
- Raw cashews
- Kasoori methi
- Super firm tofu (extra firm is fine too, but press the water out first)
- Garam masala
- Lemon juice
Looking for more recipes with the Basic Tomato Onion Sauce for Quick Curries?
Tofu “Paneer” Kali Mirch
Vegan | Gluten-free
Tofu Cubes in a Spicy Black Pepper Sauce, Tofu "Paneer" Kalimirch
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups basic tomato onion sauce
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 3 cloves
- 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
- 1/2 to 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 16 oz extra firm tofu (cut into approx. 1/2-inch cubes. You can also use extra firm tofu, but be sure to squeeze out the water first by swaddling the tofu in paper towels and placing in a colander. Place a heavy weight on top and let the tofu stand at least 30 minutes until most of the water has been expressed)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp cilantro (for garnish)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns. As the spices start to change color, add the tomato onion sauce and kasoori methi and mix well. You don't need to let the sauce cook through at this stage.
- Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a blender. Add the cashews and a cup of water and blend until smooth, then pour it all back into the saucepan and turn on the heat.
- Add the tofu cubes and let the sauce come to a boil. Stir in the garam masala.If your sauce feels too thick at any time, thin it out with water. You want a sauce that's thick enough to coat the tofu. Let the curry cook another five minutes on medium-low heat.
- Stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and ground black pepper, if needed, and turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Serve hot with naan, roti, paratha or rice.