My pantry is usually full of spices and spice mixes. I love collecting a variety of whole spices, powder them or use them as a whole. The aroma of well-cooked food comes from the spices. It’s often said that Indian/Asian cooking is heavy on usage of spices. To a certain extent I agree with that but then there is such a magnanimous variety of spices and spice mixes in our cuisines that it’s sinful not to use them wholeheartedly.
Like my pantry my refrigerator would always carry one slab of organic paneer and silken tofu. My son adores both and I love to use these proteins to add texture, flavor and nutrition into salads, curry, desserts, appetizers and more. Let me share my insight into this.
My interaction and love affair with tofu commenced instantaneously. (Rolling your eyes, aren’t you?) Though its very bland on it’s own, it has the potential to blend well as the source of protein into most of the curries, sauces, breads and appetizers. It’s low on fat (unlike paneer, which we all love so much) and high on protein.
Of course, extreme consumption of most healthy ingredient would show adversity on human body. So, refrain from overwhelming consumption of any particular ingredient. Any fad has to fade eventually. Moderation limits and extends your boundaries at the same time.
As rightly guessed, today’s weekday menu shall consist of Manpasand tofu masala (favourite tofu curry) made with 5-6 basic ingredients (tofu, tomatoes, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves) that our pantries carry. Again, this is one of our go-to meals on a week night dinner hence the name.
Ingredients: (Serves 3-4 persons for moderate eating)
- 1 whole block of organic silken tofu-cut into medium sized blocks.(drain the water, cover the tofu in tissue and then cut. The tofu block needs to lose all the water or it cooks very quickly and cannot retain shape.)
- 1-2 cloves.
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds.
- 2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped.
- 1-2 tsp. fennel seeds.
- 1 whole green cardamom.
- Salt to taste.
- 1 tsp. red chili powder. (I m assuming that 19.99$/lbs green chilis are going to be difficult on the pocket, so made several changes J)
- finely chopped cilantro.
Btw, this is an eco-friendly recipe. Does not involve much chopping, grinding and cutting. That means less of accessories like grinders, mixers and blenders, knives and shredders out, so we can save some water there (sorry, but we do need to think that way in California now!).
- Heat the pan and dry roast all the spices (cloves, fennel seeds, cumin, cardamom) until aromatic.
- Use a coffee grinder or the traditional pestle and mortar to powder these roasted spices.
- Use the same pan and add the dry spices powder on it, add chopped tomatoes in it. Allow the tomatoes to blend well with the spice mix. Add some water to it and let it simmer.
- Add the tofu cubes into the sauce/gravy and allow it to cook.
- Add red chili powder and salt.
To give richness to the simple gravy, you may add few spoons of milk and allow it to simmer on low flame to avoid separation of dairy with acids. Dress with loads of love and chopped cilantro!
It could be made in 10 minutes flat!! That’s the best thing about this dish. If you keep the dry spice mix ready its even quicker. Now, one would wonder what’s the big deal behind roasting and grinding spices fresh when we have a ready all spices powder in the box? (garam masala)
There is an old book on Indian cuisine by Kamalabai Ogale called Ruchira.I love the essence of that book. Mrs. Ogale says if you want to enjoy each ingredient well, make a fresh spice mix of your own. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself J
Happy weekdays, happier weekends J