Mr. Tofu Is Our Friend #Vegetarian

I got the basis for this recipe from The New York Times cooking section (online). The byline is Sarah Copeland, just so you know. But OF COURSE I didn’t follow the recipe. I mean, what are years of experience for, if not to screw with a perfectly good recipe, am I right?

This is called Indian Butter Tofu, and it was really good! There are approximately seventy-eleven ingredients, so brace yourselves.

Well, first, the tofu needs to be made ready ahead of time. I slice a block of extra-firm into 1/2-inch slices (for my British-speaking readers, that’s about 1 1/2 centimetres). Freeze the slices. Get out one or two slices and defrost them wrapped in absorbent paper. Squish them just a little bit, to get out as much moisture as possible. Cut them into squares. It’ll look like not very much for a meal, but they soak up the sauce and swell up like those little flat sponges that you put in water and they turn into regular sponges.

ANYWAY, mix:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (recipe calls for fresh, but I used the kind in the lemon-shaped squeeze bottle)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground turmeric
  • enough water to make a thin paste

Make it WAY thinner than you think you need, because you put the tofu into it and toss the tofu so it’s coated, and it isn’t just going to get coated: it’s going to suck up that “marinade” and make it it’s bitch own.

Have ready:

  • 8 tablespoons butter or ghee (the recipe said unsalted butter, but really?)
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced (seriously, Sarah? Do your readers actually need to be told to peel the onion? Anyway, I had fat green onions from the farmers market, so I used that)
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder or cayenne (I used cayenne)
  • 3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger (actually, I don’t peel it, because why? and I keep it in the freezer and grate it as needed)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Slap all that shit into a large skillet and cook it at medium until the onions are tender and just starting to brown.

  • 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes with juices (Naw, I don’t think so. Start whole and cook them down? Like, WHY, when you can get diced tomatoes?)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or, let’s see, maybe some GROUND CINNAMON?)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (I used Hungarian, but you could totally used smoked)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt (like all salt isn’t originally from the sea, right? Just use some damned salt.)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Add all that to the skillet and cook until it thickens some. The recipe calls for this to be blended, but why? Okay, it’s a texture thing, I get that, but I like chunks. Hire a lawyer and sue me. Blend it, if you want to blend it. I ain’t the boss of you.

Add the tofu (Did you forget you had tofu marinating? How much beer have you had, at this point?) and any marinade that the tofu hasn’t sopped up and stir that around GENTLY, so the tofu doesn’t break up. No, I mean it this time.

  • cream or full-fat coconut milk (But you’ve already used butter or ghee, so non-dairy is already a lost cause, so….)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (because that bias cut is SO important <–sarcasm)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems (because New York is classy, right?)

Add cream to the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes.

I hope you remembered to make the rice, because you serve the tofu stuff over the rice and sprinkle it with cilantro and scallions (or don’t sprinkle it with cilantro and scallions).

I’m pretty sure I included mushrooms and maybe chopped kale, because I’m like that. You do you.

See how big those little tofus got? All grown up.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about drinking while cooking.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Mr. Tofu Is Our Friend #Vegetarian

  1. Dan Antion

    June 22, 2021 at 7:46am

    It looks very good. I’m not a fan of tofu, but I’d try this.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 22, 2021 at 1:26pm

      I think you’d like it. The tofu soaks up all that flavor and it has a chew to it; not squidgy at all.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 23, 2021 at 8:53am

      It does sound involved, but I like to keep tofu slices frozen whenever possible, so that part was a given. And I have all the spices, so I didn’t have to go shopping for them. I’ll definitely make it again.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. circadianreflections

    June 22, 2021 at 7:12pm

    Yum!! We love Butter Chicken so we’d probably love this too. I learned to make a few Indian dishes…my favorites and the ingredient lists are LONG! One dish takes a long time to prepare and cook, but it’s so good! Halva. A dessert made from carrots and milk. LOVE IT!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 23, 2021 at 8:54am

      I’m not madly keen about halva. Gulab jamun, now …. But I wouldn’t dare try to make it.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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