Smoky Tofu ‘Korma’

You are not allowed to run away just because I said the word tofu. No you are not. I am aware it is a foodstuff that can cause the collywobbles, as Western palates are just not used to it, plus often what we got here in the UK wasn’t brilliant. I have made my own, on a day when I was feeling adventurous, and it was a revelation. There was so much more flavour! Plus you can press it for as long as you want, and so make it as dense as you want it.
These days though, I buy the one made by the Tofoo company, as it’s excellent and saves me turning my kitchen into a soy bean drenched steam room. (Although I will say that home made vanilla soy milk is far nicer than shop bought.)

Anyhoo. I am big a fan of Indian food. I grew up going to school with every colour and creed of Indian, and fell in love with their food almost from the get go. The first samosa I ever ate was at a Pakistani friend’s birthday party, and I remember being blown away by the bubbly pastry and spicy filling. No phyllo pastry there, it was all handmade.
Beautiful vegetarian food at my friend Vidhya’s house; steamed tindora with tomatoes, onion and spices, fluffy white rice with ghee atop. Piles of sweet sour sliced onions fried in turmeric and more spices at Rashmita’s house, plus the joys of freshly made skinny chips with chili powder, salt and lemon.
Keema matar at Lucky’s house, sweet with peas, savoury with ground lamb and bright with fresh herbs, a beautiful gram flour kofta casserole, home made rotis turned out by the dozen.
A love affair I have never let go of.

I had a block of smoked tofu, and wanted to do something with it. I thought the smoke and extra texture of this brand would work really well in a curry, so off I went. I treated it as a meat curry, using onions and ginger as the base, and adding coconut milk for a creamy texture plus a bag of salad greens for a bit more lightness.

1 large casserole pot with a lid
1 small frying pan
Vegetable oil

Tofu Korma
1 large onion, sliced into half rings
1 x 2″ piece of ginger, grated
1 tsp smoked garlic powder (I know, I know, I’d shamelessly run out of fresh garlic!)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp heeng/asafoetida powder (optional if you can’t find it)
1 tsp salt
5 cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
1 bag of baby leaf salad roughly chopped (or spinach)
1 can of coconut milk
1 block of Tofoo smoked tofu, cut into bit sized pieces
5 tablespoons of ground almonds

Garnish (well ok, SNACK)
Big handful of raw cashews or almonds (optional unless you are me)
1/4 tsp each chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt
Vegetable oil

Start off by frying the onion and cumin seeds in about 3 tbs of oil on a medium heat. You want the onions to soften and wilt down, and the cumin seeds to cook out and start giving off their aroma.
Then add in your ginger, coriander, turmeric, heeng, smoked garlic powder and salt. Mix it all in really well so the onions are coated in the spices.
Let it all cook together on a low heat for 5 minutes or so, then add in the tomatoes and the tofu. Mix it all up again and cook for another 5 minutes.
Pour in the can of coconut milk, add in the salad leaves, and give it all a really good stir.
Leave that to simmer on low for 30 minutes. You want to give the smoke from the tofu a chance to start infusing the liquid, and the spices to get into the tofu.
The leaves and the tomatoes will let out a lot of liquid, so after 30 minutes or so, add your ground almonds a heaped tablespoon at a time, until it gets as thick as you would like it.
At this stage you can add cream/cashew nut butter if you like, to make it richer.

While that lot is luxuriating in its coconut bath, grab a small frying pan.
Pop in 1 tbs of oil, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp sugar.
Pop the cashews in, mix it all well, and then turn the heat on to low.
You want the nuts to start getting a colour, but not to burn.
Once they’ve got colour, tip them into some paper towel to drain. They’ll crisp up more as they cool.

Check the korma for seasoning – by which I mean taste the sauce. If you think it needs something, it’s usually either salt, or a spritz of lemon juice. Mine needed more salt, as the coconut milk was extra creamy.

Serve over plain white rice, topped with your lovely cashews!

Onions and fresh ginger

Mixed salad leaves – never let anything go to waste!

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