A few weekends ago we attempted making a tofu peanut curry blind, which is to say, without consulting a recipe. MainMan likes to wing it in the kitchen sometimes and it doesn’t always work out. The globby mixture ended up being a tasteless fiasco so I set out to repair the damage to our tastebuds by coming up with a redeeming recipe.
This tofu tikka masala dish came out spectacularly. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever made. And I can’t wait to make it again with slight tweaks.
The recipe I discovered was for chicken tikka masala and I just substituted some baked tofu for the chicken. This is a bit time-consuming, and even more so if you want to make with chicken because it calls for you to marinate the chicken for about 4-6 hours in the fridge. If you’re making this with tofu, however, you won’t need to worry about marinating and making the yogurt mixture (used to marinate the chicken). I’m leaving these steps/ingredients in there, however, in case a meat-eater stumbles upon this post. I made the yogurt mixture to see what it tasted like. It was yummy and I was craving some naan bread with it, but it was way too salty. I amended the salt requirements below to reflect my conclusion.
Tofu Tikka Masala
The yogurt helps tenderize the chicken; the garlic, ginger, and spices in the marinade infuse it with lots of flavor.
6 garlic cloves, finely grated (this was a mind-blowing first for me — I never knew you could grate garlic?! — just make sure you have a fine grater, like one you’d use for zesting)
4 teaspoons finely grated, peeled ginger
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala (this is the one spice we couldn’t find in our behind-the-times Food Lion)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 container of extra-firm tofu (meat-eaters, you can substitute 2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise)
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods, crushed (I have no idea what a cardamom pod is so I substituted for about a TBL of crushed cardamom)
2 dried chiles de árbol or 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream (the next time we may try and cut back on the cream, just for the sake of our waistlines)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish
Steamed basmati rice (for serving)
Heat oven to 425.
Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture. <—This is the part we skipped since we were using tofu.
Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. This can be a bit messy. If you have a sous-chef, now would be the time to ask for their assistance. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
While this is going on, spread the tofu (chopped into 1-inch cubes and patted dry with paper towels) on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes or until crispy on the outside and slightly browned. Set aside. If you’d rather fry your tofu, the kitchn has a great method here. Directions for the chicken—>Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.
Add tofu (or diced chicken) to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes.
Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs.
Do Ahead: Chicken can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Reheat before serving.