Thursday, August 5, 2010

Matar Tofu Paneer Dal

Confession?  I've baked, broiled, braised, breaded, battered, frozen, and fried tofu, but I've never actually pressed it until now.  And damn! it makes the texture so much better!

(this demo on makes it look more complicated than it is--actually, look at the comments at the end of this post for more details about pressing tofu)

I followed this playfully inauthentic recipe from Bittersweet almost to the letter, and it's fantastic--warm and delicious badass comfort food.  The only things I did or would change are: I used canola instead of coconut oil, and cayenne instead of chili powder (I think this is what the author intended anyway?), and next time I would double or triple the cayenne pepper, and not put the peas in until the very end so that they don't get mushy and discolored.  I didn't add any salt--the vegetable stock I used was just salty enough.

Matar Tofu Paneer Dal

1 TB canola oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2-1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 c vegetable stock
1 c yellow split peas or red lentils
1 plum tomato, diced
2 TB tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 pound (I used a 12-oz block) extra-firm tofu, thoroughly pressed (2 hours?)
salt and cayenne, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, heat oil and saute onion.  After a minute, add in the garlic and spices, and stir well.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the spices are highly aromatic.
2. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock, scrapping the bottom to make sure nothing is sticking, and then introduce the beans/lentils as well. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to a low simmer, and let it sit, undisturbed, for about 20 minutes.  If using split peas, they will still be somewhat firm at this point, but red lentils will be nearly done.
3. Stir in the diced tomato, tomato paste, peas, and pressed tofu, and let cook, covered, for another 5-10 minutes. Give the whole mixture a good stir to encourage your legume of choice to break down a bit, and test to see if its fully cooked. The lentils should be done, but mung beans will probably take another 15 minutes or so. Just be patient, and keep a close eye on the pot, making sure there is still enough liquid for everything to cook without burning on the bottom; add a splash of water if it seems too dry.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne, and serve piping hot.  Serves 4-6.


In other news, here's the sunset, seen from my window, that accompanied this dish.  I didn't even sex up the color saturation or anything.  Note Russian Orthodox Church and Hollywood Hills.  :)


Myer said...

Yum, this looks delicious. I've pressed tofu before, but it's never really looked like your great pictures - did you use lots of weight? I love the idea of tofu as a substitute for paneer; it seems so obvious, now that someone's suggested it ...

Julia said...

Hi Myer,

I did something like this:

dinner plate
dinner plate
dinner plate
dinner plate
dinner plate

cutting board

paper towel


paper towel
paper towel
paper towel
paper towel

dinner plate

Julia said...

Oh, and I started with extra-firm tofu.

Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

That looks delicious.
I'm from India and I really like veganized Indian dishes.