The celebrity master chef shares recipes that will elevate any meal.
SO, WHAT IS TOFU?
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a soft and relatively neutral ingredient made up of condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid white blocks of varied textures such as silken, soft, firm or extra firm as well depending on its method of manufacture. The technical term used is ‘coagulating’ or ‘curdling’ soy milk, and to further process it into this nutritious must have in our diet! It is naturally gluten free and low in fat and calories, being an important source of protein especially for vegans and vegetarians.
Tofu also is power packed with important vitamins and minerals. Depending on which type of tofu is used, it can be served along with sauces, salads, stir fries, smoothie, and also on its own with a variety of dips. The key to cooking tofu is to flavour it with seasoning and sauces that will complement, and enhance the overall flavour of the end result dish. When tofu is blended, it has a great creamy texture which can be used as a vegan alternative to mousse or a pudding and is essential for making a creamy ricotta substitute for use in lasagne recipes and vegan stuffed pasta.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TOFU:
- Tofu can aid with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels in our bodies.
- It can promote healthy weight and assist with weight loss.
- Tofu is beneficial for detoxifying our bodies.
- Tofu is considered good for our bones and skin.
- It is rich in vitamin B, calcium, and iron as well.
- Tofu contains antioxidant properties that helps reduce blood pressure.
- It is a complete protein meat alternative for vegetarians.
- Tofu improves metabolic rate in our body.
HOW CAN WE USE TOFU IN OUR KITCHENS AND RECIPES?
Tofu is an ingredient that most of us are familiar with but is still being used by very few, the reason being
a lack of knowledge on how to adapt it into our recipes. The best way to explore cooking with tofu is to try it as per its textures. I usually suggest to go with the firm and extra firm options first, which can easily find its place with paneer in our kitchens. Try alternating tofu in place of paneer in the form of tofu bhurji, kababs, tikkas, koftas, chunky tofu grilled steaks, and on skewers with dips.
In contrast, soft and silken variations go well into soups, salads, dips and health shakes as well. Tofu easily absorbs seasonings and flavourings so it can be modified by being marinated in different ways, like curd based with spices, olive oil based with herbs, chilli paste/chili sauce with soy, and using other ingredients like lemongrass, basil, galangal, Thai curry paste, and more.
Tofu scramble to substitute eggs is a good choice for breakfast, especially when paired with some nice bread
and avocado on the side to balance it well. Tofu cooked in various Indian curries and gravies also come out wonderful, like tofu makhani, korma masala tofu, tofu jhalfrezi, kadai masala tofu with bell peppers, and tofu
in peanut butter and coconut cream sauce. Adding tofu to various Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Sri-Lankan dishes works pretty well too. Tofu cutlets, tikkis, burgers or sliders also work well for mini meals and fast food concepts with a healthy twist.
SOME EASY TO MAKE TOFU RECIPES:
Nutty Tofu Delight
Served with steamed white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice etc.
- 200gms firm tofu, cut into cubes
- For the marinade:
- 2 tsp olive oil or cooking oil
- 1 tsp mix ginger garlic paste
- 4-5 pieces of lemongrass
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp red chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Mix together and apply to tofu as a marinade (keep aside for 10-15 mins)
- For the gravy:
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 small chopped onion
- 2 slit green chillies
- 2 cups water or veg stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ cup warm water to dissolve the peanut butter
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp chilli sauce
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp cornflour water solution to thicken
- Prepare all the ingredients for the recipe.
- Cut the tofu into even sized cubes and apply the marinade, keep aside for 10-12 mins.
- Lightly sauté the marinated tofu on a grill pan or non-stick pan for 2-3 mins and keep aside.
- To prepare the gravy to go with the tofu, heat oil in a pan and add in the onions and chillies, sauté them for 1
- Add in the peanut butter mixture and soy sauce, chilli sauce, vinegar and little stock or water for the curry texture and light seasoning, bring to a boil.
- Add in the cornflour solution and thicken a little, then add in the sautéed tofu and stir well. Simmer it for 3-4 mins and serve hot.
- Garnish with toasted sesame or seeds of your choice and enjoy it with steamed rice.
About the Author
Celebrity master chef Dr. Kaviraj Khialani is a Mumbai-based author, academician, food health and lifestyle consultant, and coach. He specialises in over 33 international cuisines and has over 21 years of experience working with hotels, airlines, print and television media, the education sector for culinary arts and hospitality management. Chef Kaviraj is certified by the Swiss Hotel Management University and has been a recipient of several national and global awards for excellence in the field of food and the hotel industry. To connect with him, email email@example.com.
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