Tofu Mattar Paneer

Most cooks at some time or another have to make a curry, just to show they can. Here at Eighth Day we tend to follow the method established by a cook from north west India who left a fund of culinary skills but made off with the takings, well, no one is perfect. At least the curry always works perfectly. This first curry is our vegan version of that old favourite Mattar Paneer. We replace the paneer cheese with tofu, it is simplicity to make and is one of the tastier things to do with a block of tofu.

Ingredients

1 Medium Onion
1lb Small Potatoes
1lb Frozen Peas (Mattar)
1 Block Plain Tofu
1 Small Bunch fresh Coriander
1 Teaspoon Mustard Seed
1 Teaspoon Coriander Seed
1 Teaspoon Black Onion Seed
1 Clove Garlic
1 Inch Root Ginger
1 Chilli
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 12oz Tin Tomatoes
Salt & Pepper
Sunflower Oil

Method

  1. First of all wash the potatoes, peeling them if not organic, cut them into bite sized pieces and put them, just covered with water, in a saucepan. Put the lid on the pan to save energy and put on a high light until boiling, reduce the heat to a good simmer and leave to cook.
  2. Put a heavy bottomed pan on a high light and add enough sunflower oil to just cover the bottom. Whilst it is heating peel and roughly chop the onion and keep to one side. Put the mustard, coriander and onion seeds ready in a saucer, jar lid or other suitable receptacle. When the oil is smoking hot throw in the seeds and immediately cover the pan and turn down the light. The seeds will pop furiously. Leave them until the rate of popping slows but only for about half a minute and then put in the onions.
  3. Stir the onions for a moment or two to stop them burning and to take some of the heat out of the pan, leave off the pan lid and let the onions continue to fry while you peel and roughly chop the garlic, wash or peel and chop the ginger and wash and chop the chilli and then blend them to a paste using a little oil if necessary. If you have not got a blender or a mortar and pestle do not worry, just chop them as finely as you can. Once processed add them to the onions and stir in. A word here about the chilli, most of the heat in a chilli is in the seeds. If you want a milder flavour de-seed the chilli. They also vary tremendously in flavour and heat, some of the hottest being the smallest. Only practice will teach you which is which.
  4. Add the powdered spices to the pan and stir well, allowing the onions and paste to cook for a little while but not to burn.
  5. Cube the block of tofu into one inch cubes, add it to the pan and stir it gently into the spice mixture so it absorbs the flavour but does not break up.
  6. Once the Tofu has had a chance to get a once spicy crust on it, about five or ten minutes add the tin of tomatoes, roughly chopping them up either in the can or after you have got them in the pan. Stir the mixture well to blend all together and let it come back to the boil, making sure it does not stick.
  7. When the mixture is boiling add the frozen peas stir in, cover the pan and allow to come back to the boil.
  8. Whilst waiting for the pan to boil wash and chop the coriander leaves, discarding the stalks, and check on the potatoes. If cooked drain and, once the mixture has got back to a simmer, add them to the pan along with the coriander. Obviously if they are not cooked wait until they are! Mix all together and allow to cook for to cook as long as possible, at least five minutes even if you are starving, to allow all the flavours to blend.
  9. Serve with rice and Raita.

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