September 03, 2022
Stovetop Baked Tofu Butter 'Chicken' with Punjabi Masala
Makes: 4 – 6 servings
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (dairy or alternative) or ghee
1 green cardamom pod, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle *
1 black cardamom pod (no need to crush)
6 cloves, finely ground
1 cassia or 2 bay leaves
¼ cup almond flour **
1 cup Indian As Apple Pie Punjabi Masala ***
2-4 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced or pureed
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika (unsmoked)
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon unsalted tomato paste
1 medium tomato, pureed
1/2 cup water
½ cup cashew cream (recipe below)
1 16-oz. package firm or extra firm tofu (I prefer Ichiban) (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish
(Extra ingredients needed: cornstarch, garlic salt, ground black pepper, raw-unroasted cashews)
Bake the tofu: The first thing you'll want to do is bake your tofu chunks according to my recipe here. I don't like recipes that send you elsewhere to make various components, but this one is worth it! Do it first so that you have it out of the way and your tofu baked beautifully.
Make the cashew cream: I am obsessed with cashew cream. It is a fantastic way to eliminate dairy but keep the creaminess that we all crave. You can use coconut milk, but honestly the taste profile is off for a true Punjabi finish. One thing to note here, the cashew cream has a level of natural sweetness. Why I took out the brown sugar from this recipe, but kept it in this recipe that uses chicken. Simply soak 1/2 cup of raw cashews (whole or split) in water for at least a half hour. Drain. Add the cashews to a blender or Vita Mix with 1 cup of water and blend until smooth and silky. Transfer this to a glass container and whatever you don't use you can store in your fridge up to a week or in ice-cube trays for up to three months. Click here for a more detailed recipe.
Make the curry:
1. Heat a large, heavy saute pan (4 to 6 quarts) on your stovetop over medium-high heat. When hot, add the butter or ghee, green and black cardamom, cloves, and cassia or bay leaves. Stir and cook for 1 minute. If truly want a vegan dish, sub the butter for a non-dairy alternative. You can also use a vegetable oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. Remember, the last two will give you a slight extra taste profile that you may or may not like. In our house when making a Punjabi dish we prefer a cleaner taste and use grapeseed oil.
2. Add the flour. Stir and cook for 40 seconds. You can also use 1/2 cup of ground blanched almonds, all-purpose flour, or quinoa flour instead.
3. Add the punjabi masala, fresh chiles, garam masala, cumin, red chile powder, paprika, and salt. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Remember, the baked tofu will be salted so you may want to pull back on the salt. You can always add it later and make a note of how much you added. Not all of you have access to our punjabi masala and may want to make this right away. Know that I am working on getting a recipe from scratch. The key here is to use 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder/onion/ginger/garlic to replicate this sauce. For now, you can mince 1 small onion and puree a 2-inch piece of ginger and 4 cloves of garlic. Cook them in the oil for about 2 minutes until cooked down and then proceed with the recipe and adding the other ingredients. I'll have more exact instructions up soon - promise.
4. Add the tomato paste, pureed tomato, and water. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes. You must add a little more water here than when you cook chicken, which releases natural moisture.
5. Add the cashew cream and stir. Add in the baked tofu chunks and gently stir until all of the pieces are coated and warm. Garnish with the cilantro. Remove and discard the green cardamom husk, the black cardamom and cassia or bay leaves or leave them in for flavor and eat around them. All the other spices are edible. Serve with basmati rice or Indian bread like roti or naan.
Want to watch my Facebook Live class on how to make this? Click here!
* I like to leave the husk in because it adds flavor - they are also safe to eat.
** I like adding almonds to my butter 'chicken' for a creamier sauce, and almond flour is an easier way to do this. If you avoid nuts, then just leave this out. You can also replace it with the same amount of all-purpose flour to add a little thickness to your dish or ½ cup blanched, sliced almonds ground first in a food processor until smooth.
*** Our Indian As Apple Pie curry starter Punjabi Masala makes this dish not only easy but gives you the Punjabi taste profile you've been craving and missing! The magic is in our sauce! Order a few jars today from our website or pick up a few jars from one of our retail partners. If you don't have it, you'll want to sub the turmeric, onion, ginger, and garlic. I'll have a recipe for you soon.
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