Masala Tofu Scramble

August 01, 2011

Masala › Recipes › Tofu › Vegan ›

The word tofu has a lot of power.

It has the power to induce disdain. Nose-wrinkling. Repeated diatribes - especially from hard-core carnivores. Oprah is a famous one that comes to mind. I've never seen someone recoil physically as much as she does even at the mere mention of eating the stuff. Then the audience laughs knowingly. Everyone nods in agreement, and a sacred pact between carnivores is again silently affirmed: nothing - especially not tofu - will threaten the ability of anyone to eat and enjoy their meat. In my mind I liken the reaction to NRA members discussing gun control and Republicans discussing Democrats - a give-them-an-inch-and-they'll-railroad-us-completely mentality.

It's a funny thing when these same people actually take the time to stop talking and start tasting tofu that's prepared well and cooked perfectly. Their entire demeanor changes. I'm a practicing vegetarian - mostly vegan - married to someone who eats like I do at home but has to order meat when we go out. He and his like-minded friends also have to throw in a dig or two when I'm trying my dishes out with tofu versus the 'normal' ingredients. But, invariably, they'll want to try my dish or concoction and often concede that my choice in food was as good if not better than theirs.

Largely, because it was prepped well. I've traveled the world and lived in Japan and Hawaii, where eating tofu - essentially made from soybeans - is a way of life. It comes in so many shapes, sizes, and varieties, it's hard not to love it. In those countries it's not sold as a 'hippie meat substitute' but as part of the cuisine, as a fantastic source of plant-based protein that is just one part of a usually varied diet that does still include a little meat and lots of veggies.

The key to a delicious tofu dish is to prepare it with spices or marinate it well. To all you carnivores out there, I hate to break it to you, but this is the same for meat. When have you been satisfied with a piece of chicken raw, uncooked and marinade free?

So, give tofu a break. Try it before judging it. My Masala Tofu Scramble should be enough to convince you!

I like to start with extra firm tofu for this one. Here's what I found works really well:

My recipe is a take on the Masala Omelette that my mom made for us growing up and that is often served on the streets in India and made in many households - served alongside a stuffed Indian bread or Parantha.

Masala Tofu Scramble
Makes 2 cups

1 14 oz. package extra firm, organic tofu, crumbled
1/2 small white or red onion minced (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated (1 Tablespoon)
1- 2 green Thai, serrano, or cayenne chilies, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon kala namak (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon oil (canola/vegetable/coconut)

1. Crumble tofu with your hands, place in a colander set on a plate and allow to drain while you prep the remainder of your ingredients. With extra firm tofu there won’t be a lot of excess moisture, but every little bit helps.

2. Heat oil in heavy, flat pan over medium-high. Once hot, add cumin. After the seeds start to sizzle, add onion, ginger, green chilies, and turmeric. Continue to cook and brown for about 1 - 2 minutes, stirring to prevent mixing from sticking.

3. Add tofu and mix well to ensure the entire mixture turns yellow from the turmeric.

4. Add salt, kala namak (it will give you the egg-like smell and taste), and cilantro. Mix well. Serve with toast, a warm roti, or rolled in a wrap. The tastiest is eating this with a warm parantha.

Notes: Kala Namak can be found at any Indian grocery store. Kala means black and namak means salt. Mined from soft-stone quarries in central india, this salt is high in minerals and gives off a sulphureous smell and has a tangy tastes. Adding it to cold foods including street foods heightens flavor and give your snack foods more punch. Kala Namak is often used in Raita (savory yogurt) and on cold salads with lemon and white salt. The only mainstream store I've found it so far has been Treasure Island, but there it was incredibly expensive compared to the options at the Indian Grocer on Devon Ave. here in Chicago.



Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

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20 Comments

Get Skinny, Go Vegan.
Get Skinny, Go Vegan.

September 08, 2011

Hey! Just a follow up on the Lima Bean dish. I made it again with large Lima Beans and we LOVED it!!!! The beans didn’t break down as much, but a gravy was still formed. The beans cooked in the same amount of time, so just a different type of texture. Also, yes, Got it about the beans being “cooked” already but then forming a curry/broth. Just didn’t know if you might want to include something about that to peeps because people may wonder if it’s “done” really early and not get that you are cooking for a longer period of time to create that “texture”. The rice came out perfectly. It had been so many years since I have cooked stovetop rice or white rice, so I wasn’t actually sure of exactly what the sticky factor should be. They were only the slightest bit sticky which was perfect. And that was just directly after cooking. We ate on the rice for a few days reheating it in a glass pie pan in the oven with a little mist of water (Our microwave “moved out”). Ready anytime to do something else (gluten free please though!).

Catherine
Catherine

September 19, 2011

A very delayed review of the mulligatawny!!

This was a nice spicy soup that I enjoyed. I really liked the slight kick that hits you a little after the flavor, and warms you inside (nice on these chilly/rainy days). The soup itself was thin…I think maybe it’s usually made with cream or some type of dairy product, but I didn’t really miss that. There were tiny “chunks” (chunk implies bigger pieces than they were) of pepper and ginger (perhaps) that were a little offputting, texture-wise, since the soup was so thin, but that was probably the only negative for me. The seitan was nice to have in there as something chewy and filling.

I was lucky enough to sample a piece of chicken with a spice rub on it that was really flavorful and made the chicken so much more alive than the boring chicken I usually make.

More bonuses were fresh roti (yum! I need to try my hand at making those…it seems so easy!) and some spiced/roasted chickpeas that I didn’t get too creative with – mostly just snacking on them after a little reheating. I’ve made something similar, and I think they are a great snack.

I did use the suggestion to put sambhar powder on my popcorn (I’m partial to kettle corn) and now I don’t think I want it any other way! I loved the little bit of heat that I got, combined with the sweetness of the kettle corn.

Jesus
Jesus

October 22, 2012

Nice to meet you! Great blog. It looks like you have some pretty tasty reipcees to try. We are almost a month in to our Gluten Free Vegan life so it is good to see others out there who are thriving

Laura
Laura

September 07, 2011

Thanks so much Anupy! I look forward to giving dosa another go in the future!

Laura
Laura

September 07, 2011

I forgot to comment earlier on the Masalas. I first tasted some Chaat Masala, which I literally could put on anything. I’ve eaten it several times on diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and other vegetables. I haven’t tried this yet, but it would be fantastic tossed on chick peas and roasted into a crunchy snack. I mentioned to Anupy that it would be a treat on popcorn as well, and she recommended using the Sambhar Masala, which has been a favorite on popcorn with her kids and friends. It was a hit here at the office as well! I ended up making a second batch of popcorn with the Chaat Masala, which was popular also, perhaps even a bit more so than the Sambhar. Both are wonderful. I also added a mix of the two to a pureed cauliflower soup I like to make. I want them both in my kitchen all of the time, to sprinkle with abandon!

Sonia F
Sonia F

September 08, 2011

I taste tested the spinach soup (it had kale, peas, coriander). It tasted awesome. I wish my box was bigger ;).

Some suggestions I would include, all mutually exclusive to the other:

Adding a leak (onion) initially before blending it. A potato could be sliced and added at initial seasoning before blending. It could help in thickening. (suggested by my husband too) Little bit of half and half (IF this is for the vegan book, this doesn’t apply) Add blanched broccoli before blending (I generally add it to palak paneer – all the greens I get :) ). No much difference in taste, but gets much more nutritious (suggested by a friend for palak paneer, so just thinking out of the box) Maybe a touch of mint (Suggested by my husband again). Personally I do not like mint so much.

The first 3 options I would give credit to a recipe I tried from

http://hearthealthykitchen.blogspot.com/2009/02/tonis-spinach-soup.html

So maybe I would mix and match and experiment a little. Some suggestions for the other options. I hope this review helps, but trust me .. this taste was just as great.. I may sprinkle some pepper on a little bit to see hw different it tastes. Will let you know how it feels. Have it with some toast or rice. Tastes great with the former, will update this post on the latter.

Get Skinny Go Vegan
Get Skinny Go Vegan

September 04, 2011

Recipe Testing: Jeera Rice. Husband says FANTASTIC!! I even made it with White Basmati Rice. I totally doubted that the rice was going to cook in that amount of time but never doubt Anupy! I followed the minutes to a “t” and it was completely cooked. The rice was just a little sticky, which was fine but I don’t know if it was supposed to be sticky at all. Great flavor, subtle yet really “full”.
Punjabi Lima Beans: I made with small lima beans and will repeat with larger beans soon (I had to hunt down the larger type). They were “cooked” long before the end time but I let them completely finish and the texture was really nice. They were very soft, but they had also absorbed a lot of the liquid and were full of flavor. The spice was fine. It wasn’t super hot. The salt was fine also-I would probably use slightly less. But husband thought it was perfect the way it was. Of course salt is totally subjective. Directions were super easy and there is no way you could screw the dish up! Tasted similar to a dal but with different beans. Very nice flavor. Loved both dishes. Spice Tiffin made it SO EASY and FAST to make! So will try with the larger limas next.

Get Skinny Go Vegan
Get Skinny Go Vegan

September 04, 2011

Oh, and if anyone hasn’t made the Masala Tofu yet, do it!! Hands down the best tofu I have ever tasted!!!! I always make Indian style tofu, but it NEVER tastes like this!! The spice combination & cooking them prior to adding everything really seals the deal. We thought it was GREAT! And the lack of garlic makes it perfect for breakfast, if you don’t like to eat a head of garlic prior to work.

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

September 05, 2011

Get Skinny…thank you so much for being an official recipe tester. All of this feedback helps so much. Yes, I agree, the lima beans were cooked earlier, but you need that extra time for the ‘curry’ to develop. On the rice..if you find it a little sticky..that’s okay. BUT if it’s too sticky then pull it off the burner a little earlier and let it sit with the lid on a tiny bit less time. Really amazing rice take a little practice. I personally don’t mind if it’s a little sticky.

Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

August 17, 2011

Laura, thanks for your really helpful feedback on all the food. It’s good to know someone else likes the simpleness of the Kitchari as well. I loved the channa dal in it, something I’d never had before and then my mom tried it at her home and it just was so incredibly filling and delicious! On the dosa, yes that batter felt a little thick to me too. I’ve just worked on another ‘edition’ of the recipe and it felt better. The trick – and I’ll get into it more in the next book and in a blog posting – is to have a pan that’s relatively heavy. Heat it on medium high heat. Put a little oil on it and rub that in with a paper towel. Once hot, take a half onion (with the flat side) rub the pan down. Now it’s prepped. take about a quarter cup of dosa batter in a ladle and pour it in the center of the pan and work in a clockwise direction from the middle to the outside of the pan as if you’re making crepes. Now…I find the pan gets too hot when pouring the batter, and if that’s the case. take it off the heat for a few seconds while you pour and then put it back on. THEN take a little oil in a small spoon, and pour a little oil around the edge of the dosa. Not too much. Let it cook until browned around the edges and the top looks dry. Resist the temptation to flip it too early. Once it’s browned and cooked, flip it and brown the other side. There….done! Perfect every time…or almost…

Get Skinny, Go Vegan.
Get Skinny, Go Vegan.

August 23, 2011

Yep. The Kitchari with Chana Dal was a BIG hit in our house!! Hubby ate at LEAST 3 bowls!! And called it “Comfort Food”. Your food has worked wonders, as somehow we have a full blooded American Man (and I mean it, his peeps came over on a ship just after the Mayflower!!) calling Kitchari “Comfort Food”, like Potatoes!!
And of course the Burgers were perfect.
Can’t think of one thing to change about the Kitchari, it was PERFECT!! And anyone can make it…..thinking Anupy’s husband is going to have to start because she is a World Famous Author now!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

September 02, 2011

Commenting on the Curried Lima Beans. I love fruits and vegetables, but I have to admit that lima beans are toward the bottom of my list, and I tend to avoid them. But when I read that this recipe used “white” lima beans, and that (obviously) they were curried, I decided to give it a try. This dish had a real kick! It took me a few bites to grow accustomed to the flavor, but after that, I liked it very much. I ate the beans as a “side dish” to a mildly seasoned grilled chicken breast, and they were an excellent complement. I would definitely try making this dish in a slow cooker. :-) Thanks, Anupy!

Sonia F
Sonia F

August 15, 2011

One awesome recipe readers. U r missing out on it if you decide to postpone trying it !!!

Laura
Laura

August 17, 2011

I tried the carrot salad also…I think your suggestion of raisins would be great! I’m excited to try that addition when the cookbook comes out.

I failed epically at making dosa! I’ve made crepes before, but not dosa, and could not get the right thickness at any heat level. I thought maybe the batter was a bit too thick, and thinned it with water, which gave me a good thickness, but then it completely fell apart. What was your technique? I love dosa and would like to try again. And despite my cooking inadequacy, my irregular dosa pancake scraps were delicious!

Btw, everyone eats sambhar for breakfast in South India… you are spot on!

Laura
Laura

August 17, 2011

More taste testing… the kitchari was a smash hit! Anupy told me it is a dish served for an upset stomach, and I can see why, although I wouldn’t limit it to just that occasion! This is perfect comfort food, with its almost mashed consistency and soft warm flavors. The texture, and the feeling I had eating it, reminded me of temple rice I had following a big puja in Chennai, one of my favorite memories. And absent all of the ghee used in the temple rice, it didn’t put me into a food coma, so that’s a bonus. I cannot wait for this recipe!! Coworkers enjoyed also… it’s Sabina’s favorite so far!

In the lemon race, across the board, the quinoa came out ahead of the rice, although both were good. I preferred the quinoa because of the more delicate texture. Again, I’m used to quite buttery/oily lemon rice (from Lemont temple), so it’s nice to have a healthier, but still tasty, variety!

chicovegano
chicovegano

August 02, 2011

This is very similar to the scrambled tofu that we have at our house. Yours has cilantro and is more spicy. We have divided opinions on the heat, I prefer more, I receive less.
I need to try your recipe.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

August 15, 2011

I’m commenting about lemon quinoa south Indian style. I picked some up from Anupy the day after it had been prepared, and she suggested that reheating would be unncessary. She included a small amount of the brown rice dish she had made in the same way so that I could contrast and compare. The brown rice version was good, I actually liked the quinoa version better. The seasonings in this dish are tasty but subtle and, for me, they worked very well with the more delicate texture of the quinoa. I enjoyed the crunch of the peanuts, but I’m thinking cashew pieces or slivered almonds would be even better in this dish. I did eat it cold (more like room temp), and that worked great. Thanks again, Anupy!

Laura
Laura

August 15, 2011

Yum! So much to say… I sampled the sambhar, black chickpea patties, and carrot and radish salad.

The sambhar was unlike any I have ever tried. It could simultaneously satisfy my cravings for sambhar, mulligatawny, and even Middle Eastern lentil soup! It was firstly, so beautiful, and then, equally as tasty, with big, fresh pieces of potato, onion, and green pepper, and perfectly cooked lentils. I’m used to a reddish sambhar with a tomato component and a larger variety of veggies, but didn’t miss them at all. I think if I made this myself, I would possibly add cauliflower and maybe zucchini, but for no good reason other than I love them, and think they would still fit the aesthetic of the dish. When I first tasted it cold, it tasted less spicy than I am used to, but when I warmed it, I had the full experience of the flavors and thought it was spiced perfectly. (As an aside, my coworkers both tasted it cold, and thought it was spiced perfectly, which leads me to wonder if they might have found it a tad too spicy when heated – they don’t eat Indian as frequently.) I also appreciated the absence of the usual beads of oil floating in the sambhar, which made me think this was a healthier (yet just as tasty) variety!

I picked up the chickpea “meat” cold and unformed, and actually ate quite a bit of it just like that! It was delicious; a scoop of it would have been great over a salad, and it would also be good as a spread on crostinis or crudités. It actually reminded me of the “tuna salads” or “pates” sometimes served up at raw vegan restaurants. But it really reached its peak when I formed little patties (I made smaller, almost falafel-sized balls, and gently flattened), dipped them in flour, and pan-fried them in a small amount of oil. It formed a crispy golden crust, and left a delicious, tender, and moist center. My coworkers raved about these! One dipped them in the sambhar, and the other ate them plain, and loved them just that way. She said they reminded her of corned beef hash patties her grandma used to make! I got a kick out of that, because I had similarly thought that crumbled up with some spiced potatoes and onions, they would make a perfect Indian-style hash breakfast! I can’t say exactly why that is; it’s something about the flavors and the texture, and I think the vibrant color from the beets and red cabbage, which helps form the corned beef association. For non-vegan or pure-veg eaters, these patties would be terrific with a fried egg as well.

Everyone liked the carrot and radish salad also. One coworker’s first bite must have had a pepper in it, because she found it really spicy, but said she would have loved it with a raita or something otherwise cooling. My mom also found it a bit hot, but in a gingery (not peppery) way, which I didn’t pick up on. I really enjoyed it, even though carrots are not a preferred veggie of mine. It was such a fresh spin on a raw Indian salad; I wish restaurants would serve something like this instead of the standard iceberg/carrot/cucumber salad at the buffet. (Although my usual strategy of forfeiting salad allows me to try more of the entrees… a salad like this would just be one more thing I would need to make room for!)

What an epicurean treat it all was… thank you!

Catherine
Catherine

August 15, 2011

Although I haven’t tried it yet, this tofu scramble sounds great! I think I might actually try to do something similar, but use the sambhar spice mix you gave me…I think you mentioned that you’ve put it on eggs before, so it seems that might work. I’ll have to pick up some tofu this week and check it out!

I’ve been enjoying your food the last couple days. I just gobbled down one of the black forest burgers for lunch…mmm! I don’t remember exactly what you said was in it, but I look forward seeing this recipe in the book! I tried to do a sniff-test and figure out what sort of condiment I might want to bring (I packed it for lunch at work), but am not the best at figuring that out, so I went with the trusty old American ketchup, and that little sweetness actually went pretty well, I think. If the burger was a bit more spicy (heat-wise), I think even something like the tamarind chutney that often comes with samosas and papadum would be pretty good. Though I would probably put that stuff on anything :) I stuck the burger on an onion bun, and I think that went nicely too.

The carrot salad was something completely new to me, and I didn’t have any expectations before digging in. I loved the crunch and slight heat, mixed with a little sour. I thought it might go well with something just a little bit sweet added in (I was thinking raisins), but nothing in my kitchen would have worked, so I didn’t get to try that. But, after the first bite, all I was thinking was “oh my gosh, that is amazing!” Seems like such a simple thing to make (maybe?) but so much flavor.

Don’t judge me, but I had sambhar for breakfast! I was actually excited to get out of bed to try my hand at cooking the dosa batter. I was a little too eager with the first batch and put it in before the pan was hot enough, so that one came out a bit “doughy,” but the rest were good. I like the brown rice tweak, it gave it a nice flavor. And the sambhar actually seemed like a great breakfast to me. Filling and flavorful, but not heavy.

I’ve still got half of almost everything left, so I’ll let you know if I have any updates. I am getting motivated to get back in the kitchen and start cooking some more for myself again, so thanks!

Get Skinny, Go Vegan.
Get Skinny, Go Vegan.

August 01, 2011

I was SO hoping you were going to divulge your Tofu Masala recipe in due time!! I just pulled out the tofu again, after not really using a ton of it for awhile. We watched a Dr. Gregor Nutrition Video (I know, my hubbie & I are terribly exciting, but you know, we are shut ins with the 100 degree weeks on end here), and he mentioned how it blocked fat absorption and that was all it took for me to hop off the couch & go make some tofu banana pudding. Hey, don’t I need to eat more to block all that fat I ate the last two months?? And I think the heat is getting to me because I think I read that you were married to someone who ate the way you eat at home, and I was under the assumption that your husband was the one who preferred NO veggies in his Chicken Masala! What?? Are you secretly making tofu lovers out of these men? My hubby was a meaty when I met him, and I was just vegetarian. But his cholesterol numbers were high and somehow he was already jaded against lipitor & the like so HE insisted we cut out the milk, cheese, etc..!
Well, I guess I don’t have to keep it a secret from your husband that I made your Chicken Masala recipe vegan style. I didn’t even use “fake” chicken or anything but just used summer squash, carrots, potatoes, and green beans. (I added them a bit past midway through). It was awesome! Any okra or summer squash recipes in your next venture?? Oh, and I STILL can’t find anything about tofu affecting hormones in a negative way. Only that it can be good for prostate cancer, so I am kind of thinking it may actually be beneficial if it balances your good & bad estrogen. Maybe it acts like DIM (concentrated brassicas), which gals & guys can take, to balance the hormones. But he had me at blocking fat and I was there :) I am going to the basement to take the tofu out of freezer right now. Time to make Masala. And it’s fun to say.

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