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Tofu Tikka Masala

On why tofu is a godsend for the Vata body…
It’s dawn on me recently to lift my silly short-sighted stigma on soy and eat more tofu. Maybe its the overemphasis these days on getting your greens, or eating a variety of colors on your plate that I’ve completely left out the consideration of bulking up on the protein too. I suspect its the lack of protein rich foods like such that makes my muscles feel sore for days after an especially tiring yoga workout.

What I’ve discovered so far is that out of the whole gamut of protein rich plant foods I can best digest tofu, tempeh and other easy-to-digest legumes like such Indian split lentils, black eyed peas and small amounts of chickpeas without the problem of indigestion and gas which are symptoms that particularly plague the delicate Vata digestive system. I’m constantly amazed at the accuracy of Ayurvedic guidelines because no matter how I try to bend the rules, or ignore them, less than favorable outcomes are sure to ensue, serving only to validate the robustness of this age-old medicine system.

Lots of experimentation has thus led me to conclude that legumes sources other than the above mentioned, especially kidney beans, tend to make my stomach feel as heavy as a brick. The role of tofu in the Vata vegan diet is therefore somewhat crucial, it being one of the few plant-based and digestion-friendly, protein-rich as well as iron-rich sources that helps repair and build muscle as well as prevents fatigue caused by iron-deficiency anemia.

No-Chix Tofu Tikka Masala
I liked the idea of firm tofu doused in tomato gravy in this Tofu Tikka Masala, a vegan rendition of Paneer Tikka Masala. I actually read somewhere that the Tikka Masala isn’t actually Indian at all, rather was an English invention, which Will Smith didn’t realise until he tried to order Chicken Tikka Masala in India and realised there was none! I’ve only ever tried that dish once before turning vegetarian but it was nothing fantastic, drowned in a sweet tomato ketchup-like paste ala classic Brit style. But this Vegan Paneer Tikka Masala from Eat, Live, Burp starts off with 100% fresh ingredients like tomatos rather than tomato paste and lots of spices in true traditional Indian style making it really fresh-tasting and aromatic. Non-dairy cream isn’t used keeping the flavors bright and the entire dish light on the stomach. This was a burst of flavors from a medley of spices and the tartness from tomatos which accompanied by the chewy texture of firm tofu was quite a delight for a weeknight dinner.

Tofu Tikka MasalaFirst, the tofu is pressed and marinated in vegan yogurt and spices. As vegan yogurt isn’t an option for me, I substituted with besan flour, water and lemon juice. The tofu surprisingly didn’t pick up very much of the taste of the spices which prompts me to wonder if besan isn’t a good flavor carrier. I will test this using a mixture of cashew and coconut cream the next time to see if it improves the taste. The recipe calls for broiling the tofu, which I did in the oven toaster and took about 20 minutes or so.

Tofu Tikka Masala Tofu Tikka MasalaNext whole spices are tempered, followed by the sauteing of the standard onion, ginger-garlic and tomato combination, as well as ground spices, until everything is cooked through. The sauce needs to be smooth so is blended thoroughly before adding back into the pot.

Lastly, the broiled tofu is thrown in to be coated in the thick and smooth tomato gravy to take on the flavors. Three whole tomatos and an onion really made this flavorful!

Also threw in some corn I had leftover and I suspect one could make this dish with grilled veggies instead — cauliflower anyone?? Overall, this required quite a bit of prep work with the marination but if you have the time and baked tofu stewed in a gravy with lots of Indian spice sounds comforting, then making this recipe is probably going to be a very very good idea 🙂
Tofu Tikka Masala

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Remember to eat your tofu! And happy nom-noms!

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