One of the reasons I hate ordering take-out, particularly for lunch while I’m at the office, is the overwhelming fear of disappointment.
“What if they don’t deliver on time? I’m already starving.”
“What if the portion is tiny? I can’t order again, that’ll be a waste of money.”
“What if it’s too greasy? Too salty? Not flavorful enough?”
You get the picture, the possibilities are endless (and, yes I am most definitely a control freak), but alas we all have those weeks where meal-prep slips through the cracks. For the most part, I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to ordering in, generally sticking to a handful of tried and trusted options – but every now and then I go a little crazy and try something new.
The results of my adventurous ordering sprees have of course varied greatly, however I’ve found that a lot of inspiration can take root from a bad dining experience. Enter the story of today’s Tofu Tikka Masala.
When I spotted a similar dish on a nearby restaurant’s menu, I was sold. The tofu meant it would be protein-rich, and the spicy red pepper sauce served with cauliflower rice sounded like the perfect remedy to battle my lunchtime hunger pangs at the office. 45 minutes later, I was sorely disappointed; meager serving of tofu, barely any veggies, and a side of cauliflower rice that tasted, frankly, like mush.
Needless to say, I won’t be ordering it again, especially not after I tried my hand at my own version.
In line with my new year’s resolution I really wanted this recipe to be a simple, fuss-free everyday meal that could be thrown together on a casual weeknight without much pomp and circumstance, while still packing the punch and rich flavour of a curry that’s spent hours simmering on the stove.
That meant having to adhere to precisely three rules:
- Use a homemade curry paste with toasted spices
- Use 10 ingredients or less (individual spices don’t count, right?)
- Ensure no more than 20 minutes of actual cook time
I’m proud to say that I was up to the challenge, and the result was one of the most delectable curries I’ve ever made.
It just ticks all the boxes. From the rich and creamy gravy to the wonderfully fragrant herbs and spices, not to mention the flavour-packed veggies and sumptuous bites of tofu – it is truly a delight to eat (and frightfully easy to make!)
- 1¼ cups of chickpeas
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets (approximately 4 cups)
- 1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, sliced
- 1 12oz/340g packet of extra firm tofu, cubed
- ½ cup of red onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 can of regular coconut milk
- ½ cup of water
- ⅓ cup of fresh coriander, tightly packed (with stems)
- 1 tbsp of coconut oil
- 1 inch of raw ginger
- 1 red chilli, de-seeded
- 1 tbsp each of cumin seeds, ground coriander, smoked paprika and garam masala
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Start by toasting your spices on a medium flame for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Be sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.
- Now for the curry paste: to a blender, add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ginger, coriander, spices, and red chili and blend till everything is well mixed.
- In a large shallow pot or wok on medium heat, add the coconut oil and onions to sauté for 2-3 minutes, next add in the bell peppers and cauliflower, stir to mix and cook for an additional 3 minutes
- Add in your curry paste and coconut milk and stir everything together, allowing it to come to a rolling boil before adding in the chickpeas, tofu and ½ a cup of water.
- Season with salt and pepper then turn the heat down to low and cover. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender.
- If your curry base has reduced too much, add in an additional ½ cup of water and stir through, adjusting seasonings as needed.
- Garnish with some extra fresh coriander and serve with your grain of choice.
Feel free to dial the heat up or down as you like, by adding more red chili peppers to the curry paste or some red chili powder
If you prefer a lighter curry use light coconut milk and sauté the onions/veg using water instead
The proof? I’ve already made it more times than I can count, and it has found its way into my go-to list of easy meal-prep recipes. I should also mention that it has been vetted by not one, not two but three omnivorous eaters – including a colleague of mine from India who gave it her wholehearted seal of approval. Need I say more?
Of course, I never claim to produce “authentic” versions of originally omni-dishes, but I genuinely think that this curry is in a class of its own.
Let’s put it this way, I definitely wouldn’t be complaining if I had this delivered to me at work.
Moral of the story: behind every bad meal is the potential for an exceptional culinary creation.
Until next time, dear readers.