I have been fascinated by tofu for over a year now. I tried a few dozen types of tofu in China last year and more often than not, it tasted absolutely amazing. Since then I have been trying to get hold of similar tofu in Singapore. The types of tofu they had in China are nowhere to be found in Singapore. I tried cooking whatever variety of tofu we get in supermarkets here.
Silken and pressed tofu, which are not suitable for all types of cooking are easily available in the stores here. Silken tofu is like cream and pressed tofu is also soft with high water percentage. Pressed or soft tofu is most suitable for deep fried dishes like pakoras. It can also be probably used for cooking tofu burji (variant of paneer burji), that is, scrambled tofu with chillies and onions. I used it to make two dishes: a stir fry and a curry based tofu peas masala. Stir fry was more or less a fail attempt as the soft pressed tofu gets crushed and breaks when you try to stir fry it. Tofu peas masala turned out much better as it was boiled in watery curry. I don’t like the texture of soft tofu so I wouldn’t recommend using pressed tofu in Indian dishes.
After searching in many stores, I found firm beancurd. You can do a lot of things with firm or hard tofu. I tried my favourite paneer dishes replaced by this tofu: palak tofu and tofu tikka. Both came out awesome! So here are a few pointers about replacing paneer with firm tofu in Indian recipes:
- Tofu has a lot of water which needs to be drained out so that it can absorb the flavours of your curry/masala
- Drain out extra water from tofu by covering it with tissues/cloth and keep it pressed for 10-15 mins under some weight
- I do not like using starch so avoided corn flour coating. But most of the recipes online recommend you to coat tofu with rice or corn powder and stir fry it prior to its use in any dish. This is done to improve the texture or crunchiness. I didn’t take the pains to do this!
- Another way of improving tofu’s flavour is to first boil it in salt water for a few minutes before draining its water. Personally, I do not think that is required in Indian dishes which are curry based or are marinated.
This is the easiest thing to cook and ends up as a brilliant snack!
Mix up curd (I like to use Greek yoghurt) with all the spices you have. I used dhaniya powder, chilli powder, haldi powder, pepper powder, saunf powder, jeera powder, garam masala, and salt. Whisk the mixture well. Add one inch cubes of tofu (after draining water), red and yellow peppers, onions and any other vegetables you like. Marinate in refrigerator for 3 hours or more and just roast on pan or oven. I roast it on pan at medium to high flame without any oil!
Roasting takes about 5-10 mins and you can just leave it there while doing other things! Or in the meantime, if you have mint or coriander leaves, you can mix chutney dip which will make the tikka taste unbelievably good!!
Replace rice with Quinoa
I really do not like the taste of brown rice. But I love quinoa. My mom cooked it first for us and it took me 3-4 tries to finally start loving this dish. The quinoa salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and coriander leaves is the best salad ever. But that requires the effort of chopping so many things. I have simply replaced quinoa with rice to be eaten with lentils, beans, soup or anything!
Quinoa is cooked in exactly the same way as rice is. The key thing is to wash it well before boiling and using the correct amount of water to boil it. The ratio of water to quinoa is 2:1 cups, same as that of white rice. I add a little salt at the time of boiling.
I still love rice and paneer in traditional Indian dishes. I just love trying new things more! :)