I stuffed myself with Palak Paneer last night. I feel terrible about it and actually had a bit of trouble sleeping. I think it’s time to give that beautiful cheese a break (at least for a little while, anyway).
On The Rebound
What’s a girl to do when she’s decided to cut the one true love out of her life?
Then it dawned on me; I’m going to replace paneer with something similar, something I won’t feel as guilty about. Hi tofu, remember me? We used to have a healthy relationship before I lost all my inhibitions to full-fat Indian cottage cheese.
If you ever asked me what my favourite spice was, I think I’d probably cry. There are so many to choose from and limitless possibilities in terms of creating breathtaking new flavours.
Cardamom is one of those spices that’s never really at the forefront of a curry. Well let me tell you something, it really should be given the chance. A combination of both green and black cardamoms impart musky flavours that are so characteristic of the spice, to a simple curry. They are the shining stars of this dish.
Somewhat unconventionally, I adopted the western method of infusing single cream with the spices to get out of them, the most subtle flavours possible. I then strained the lightly crushed spices out of the cream with a tea strainer, leaving behind a perfectly smooth cardamom-scented cream to add to my luxurious tomato sauce.
Everyone knows tofu can’t be classed as real food unless it’s drowned in something mouth-wateringly flavourful (sorry, it’s true). In this curry, intense black cardamoms impart a smoky base flavour to hold up the fragrant menthol notes of the more liberally used green cardamoms. Equilibrium. Is. Everything.
I thought about adding vegetables to this but why ruin a perfectly balanced dish with something that would only be there for the sake of it. Forget it; all this mild, creamy, tangy tofu curry needs is the crunch of finely sliced, sweet spring onions to bring it to life.
You won’t even miss the paneer.
600g firm tofu, pressed to remove water and deep fried until golden
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, chopped very finely
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green chillies, chopped finely
1-inch piece ginger, minced
4 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced finely at an angle
4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the cream infusion:
300ml single cream
9 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 black cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 dried red Kashmiri chilli, lightly crushed
1. For the cream infusion, pour the single cream into a small saucepan and add the lightly crushed green and black cardamom pods and Kashmiri chilli. Gently bring the mixture to the boil and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely and then pass through a tea strainer to remove the cardamoms and chilli. Set the infused cream aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and add the onions, chilli, garlic and ginger. Sauté until aromatic, about five minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a further 4 minutes, stirring all the time. Pour in 250ml hot water, garam masala, salt and sugar and stir through. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on a medium heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove the lid from the pan and quickly whisk in the infused cream mixture, ensuring it does not separate. Add the tofu, spring onions and chopped coriander. Stir for a final time and serve hot with pilau rice and naan.