Way back in the 00's, when I first went vegetarian, my friend Beth gave me The Tofu Cookbook by Leah Leneman. The cover features a tempting looking cheesecake with succulent raspberries. In the ten years that I've had this cookbook, have I ever tried to make that tofu cheesecake? In a word, no.
In fact, I've realized that I treat my cookbooks much like I do my favorite restaurants. Once I find a recipe (or menu item) that I love I tend not to deviate. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, ya know? So for years I've been making this yummy szechwan tofu with peanut sauce from this book, and pretty much ignoring the other recipes. You could figure this out on your own if I handed you my book, because that's where the spine is broken and the pages stained!
In the spirit of new beginnings, I decided to branch out this week. My husband, who shall be referred to hereafter as R.C. (for Reluctant Carnivore), only grumbled a bit before I reminded him it was for my new project. He also agreed to come up with a rating system, to gauge each recipe's appeal for a confirmed meat-eater. It goes like this:
**** Vegan, shmegan -- I like it!
*** Meh. I'll eat it.
** That ain't no pork chop.
* Brother, can you spare a sirloin?
Without further ado, the (slightly modified) recipe:
Ingredients: 1 pkg. firm tofu, oil for frying (I used coconut, of course!), 2 large or 4 small tomatoes, 3 TBSP raw cashews, 1 inch fresh ginger, 2 large onions, 1/2 Earth Balance, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 bay leaves, 4 tsp. ground cloves, 1 tsp. chilli powder, 1 1/3 cups water, 1 1/3 cups soy yogurt, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. coriander, 2 tsp. garam masala, 2/3 cup frozen peas, 1 tsp. sugar, sea salt to taste
First, a trick I learned from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, in her book Vegan with a Vengeance. Press your tofu! It really does make a difference to get all the water out. As you can see, it's also a great use of those non-vegan cookbooks you're using less of these days:
Then, cut the tofu in half. Cut one half into small cubes and deep-fry:
Drain the fried tofu and set aside. Chop the tomatoes. Put in a food processor with the cashews, ginger, and garlic. Blend thoroughly:
Chop the onions coarsely. Saute them in the Earth Balance until lightly browned. Lower the heat, stir in the cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chilli powder, add the water, pureed tomato mixture and soy yogurt. Bring to a boil.
Stir in cumin, coriander and garam masala and simmer for a few moments. Add the deep-fried tofu and peas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally, crumble the remaining tofu into the pan, along with the sugar and salt to taste:
Enjoy over brown rice -- or perhaps homemade naan!
Notes for next time: I would half the sauce recipe as this made a lot. (I had to make extra rice to finish it off.) I would keep the same amount of tofu, though. I would also add some whole cashews to the sauce at the end. And I'm definitely on the look-out for a good home-made naan recipe.
This one will really make your house smell good! It's so fragrant and flavorful, and a little spicier than the food I normally make. It's a pleasant burn, though, not one that overshadows the more subtle flavors of the tofu and peas. And how about R.C.'s rating? This one garnered four stars! **** Vegan-shmegan, I'll eat it! Not bad!