1129 Indian Spiced Peas and Tofu

I have mixed feelings about this dinner. It was good – and smelled even better – but it wasn’t a knock out, and I’m not sure how to fix it.

For one, the original recipe called for the tofu to be tossed in cornstarch, fried, then set aside for most of the recipe.  I don’t love the texture of fried tofu – or the extra fat from the oil – so we sliced it, gave it a good dose of olive oil cooking spray, then broiled it – so it had better texture but not much flavor.  Perhaps a ginger-y marinade would fix this?

For another, there was too much liquid.  The original recipe called for 28 oz diced tomatoes in liquid plus 1/4-1/2 cup water or broth.  I used fresh tomatoes but only had about a cup on hand, so I supplemented with a couple of diced peppers.  This meant that I added significantly less liquid to the pan than called for, and it still was a bit wet.  I’m not sure where the liquid is supposed to go, as everything in the recipe is full of its own moisture and certainly doesn’t need any extra.  I’m also wondering if coconut milk might be a nice substitute?

Finally, the seasoning.  Adding more of everything that originally called for – plus a teaspoon of red pepper flakes – gave the recipe a nice heat, but we both found ourselves salting generously.  Perhaps more salt and the coconut milk previously suggested would help?

Regardless, this was a fast and healthy dish, and made enough for dinner for the two of us and three lunch portions when served with steamed Jasmine rice.

Indian Spiced Peas and Tofu
Adapted from Whole Foods, presented as I made it.  See above for suggested modifications.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained, and pressed for at least a few hours to extract extra moisture
2 yellow onions, very thinly sliced
1 generous tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 generous tablespoon garam masala
1 generous teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup diced bell peppers – I used green and red
1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
1 (1-pound) bag frozen green peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tofu into 1″ pieces, then slice again into bite sized triangles.  Spread on a broiler-safe pan lined with tinfoil, then spray evenly with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil.  Place under preheated broiler for about 8 minutes on each side, or until golden and a little crispy.

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onions and ginger and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. Add spices, tomatoes, and peppers and simmer for 5 minutes. Add water or broth, peas and tofu, reduce heat, cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, then spoon over rice and serve.

0301 Disappointing Matar Paneer

It’s so disappointing when a meal smells amazing but fails to deliver the flavor, texture, or satiety you were anticipating.  That was the case with tonight’s matar paneer.

0301 Matar Paneer

It was just missing – something. The sauce – what there was of it – lacked creaminess and spice.  The paneer – my first try at making this type of very simple cheese – also lacked the texture and squeak we expected.  The recipe I used recommended frying the cheese in ghee and then using it right away, which I didn’t do as I made it on Sunday for tonight’s dinner.  Next time!

When I linked to the recipe on Facebook, a friend described it as “an Indian dish modified for American collegiate vegetarians.” It seems like this happens frequently with ethnic food – an amazing dish with complex flavors is dumbed down for the standard American pantry and/or palate. Granted, I doubt I’ve had really authentic Indian food – but I’m reasonably sure that this isn’t it.  Fortunately, there are a lot of recipes out there to try, so I look forward to giving matar paneer another go – just not with this recipe.

Recipes:
Paneer from fxcuisine – made a half batch, as we really didn’t need a gallon’s worth
Matar Paneer from What’s 4 Eats

0107 Crock Pot Chicken Makhani

The thing about crock pot meals is that they’re super convenient when you get home on a snowy day and just want to eat. They’re not so convenient when it’s 6:45am and you have to drag your ass out of bed to bone three pounds of chicken thighs and make substitutions for spices that you didn’t realize had run out.  I’m not sure who was the hero of this situation – I did get up to make dinner at 6:45am, but Shane got up to make the coffee and feed the cats so that I could make my 7:30am bus on time.

The recipe called for 8 hours in the pot on low; by the time we made it home in all the snow, it had been going for 9, so the house smelled amazing and but the sauce had caramelized a bit.  I stirred in a cup of yogurt and made a quick bag of brown rice while Shane finished shoveling the sidewalk.  If I were to make this again, I think I’d prefer to have it with basmati rice or naan, and I might leave the bones in the chicken.  I would also add more salt.  A lot more salt.

Recipe:
CrockPot Chicken Makhani from A Year of Slow Cooking

0101 Leftover Indian

We were both sick in the days leading up to New Years – also our anniversary – so instead of trying to be overly festive, we made a list of things we like to do together and tried to do as many of them as we could in 24-48 hours. For dinner, we got takeout from Madras Masala, a totally serviceable Indian restaurant near campus.  By the time we got home, we were both ravenous, and tucked in to fragrant plates of mattar paneer, savory garlic naan, and crunchier-than-expected paneer kulcha.  While we both enjoy preparing meals, there’s something decadent about takeout on a night when you aren’t rushed, when cooking at home is a realistic option but not the one you’ve chosen.

Tonight Shane is in Ohio and I am solo for dinner, so I warmed up the leftovers in a favorite bowl and ate them while working on a crossword.