tofu capsicum subzi

2nd February 2010

It has been a dull week in the kitchen, mostly doing everything on auto-pilot without much inspiration and enthusiasm.  Usually, when this happens, afterwards, I explode into an enthusiastic, creative burst of new ideas and newfound courage to try different things in the kitchen.  This curry was the result.  I have also been taking the time to sit in the garden, not working in it, not seeing what needs to be done.  Just sitting and admiring its beauty in contemplative silence.

The tofu I use is home-made, but you can use store-bought as well. The recipe from where the inspiration came used paneer and cream.  You can experiment with this dish in many ways.  Make the gravy richer by adding soaked cashews ground to a paste, or use different coloured peppers to add a splash of colour.

The other big secret is obtaining the freshest garam masala powder.  You could try it in an Indian store or, ideally, make your own, here. If you don’t have garam masala, replace it with rasam powder.

tofu capsicum subzi

Serves 2

Recipe inspired from here.


1 cup tofu/panner – cut into 1 cm cubes

3 Tbsp ghee/oil – divided

½ full tsp cumin seeds

⅛ tsp asafoetida powder

1 big capsicum (green or red bell pepper) – chopped into 1-inch pieces

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

2 medium tomato, pureed/2 Tbsp tomato paste mixed with ¼ cup water

¼ cup water/ cream (optional)

¼ – ½ tsp red chilli powder or less, depending on your level of spice

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp coriander powder

½ full tsp home-made garam masala powder (can replace with 1 full tsp rasam powder)

1 tsp salt


1.  Heat 2 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the tofu, and brown lightly on all sides – set aside on a paper towel.

2.  Heat the remaining ghee and add cumin and asafoetida; when the cumin seeds start to darken, add the capsicum and tomato, cover and allow the mixture to cook until tender but not overcooked.  Keep stirring in between to avoid charring.

3.  Add the tomato puree and mix well – bring to boil.

4.  Pour in the water/cream (if needed) and add chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, salt and tofu*, stir well – simmer for 5 minutes more on low heat.

Serve with rice, chapati and a simple yellow dal with green beans and cabbage.

*If using paneer, do not cook for more than 5 minutes, otherwise, it will become hard.

Goodness shared by Stacey

Added note from Donna:  I made this last night.  Very tasty, Stace.  As I like my dishes leaning towards the milder spicy version, I would only add ½ tsp chilli powder next time.  Now that I am back home and settled into a routine, I will post the next dish. 

tofu with five spices, coconut sugar & baby basil

9th July 2009


As a Christmas present, Ben and I were given a beautiful Taiwanese cookbook from Ben’s sister, Sarah and her husband, Phil.  The book is a collection of recipes by Jade & Muriel Chen, a mother and daughter team from Blue Eye Dragon, a Taiwanese restaurant in Pyrmont, Sydney.  Sarah and Phil took us there when we were visiting, as the daughter is a friend of Sarah’s.  Before that time, I can’t recall experiencing Taiwanese dishes, and this dinner was one of those memorable food moments.  Who would believe something as simple and bland as choy sum could taste so good? Very fresh, simple flavours and delicious.  As you can imagine, I was very thrilled to receive their cookbook when it was published last year.

It is a beautifully presented book with clearly set-out recipes that are easy to follow.  Ingredients that may be unfamiliar are explained fully in the glossary with reasons for their use.  I have tried about 6 of their recipes and my favourite would have to be the salt and pepper mixture with five spice.  The original recipe the following dish was inspired from was ‘Crispy Chicken with Basil and Five Spice.’  I discovered the coconut sugar in my last health food shop and was keen to experiment with it.  A very successful purchase and it will be making regular appearances in future posts.  Of course, you can replace it with cane sugar if you prefer.

five spice tofu with coconut sugar & baby basil

Sweet potato flour, also known as tapioca flour gives a crispier texture to fried foods.  (A very useful tip from the book).  It is available from large supermarkets, Indian/Asian speciality stores.  Coconut sugar is produced from coconut palm blossoms by kettle boiling to crystallise the sugar content.  It is organic, unfiltered, unbleached and preservative free.  It has a crisp, fine texture, caramel in colour and toffee-like in taste and is available from health food stores.


about 3 tsp salt and pepper, five spice mixture (See recipe below)

1 x 300g block tofu, cut into cubes

2 Tbsp sweet potato flour (tapioca flour)

peanut oil

coconut sugar (white sugar was in original recipe)

a handful of baby basil leaves


1.  For the Salt and Pepper Mixture, combine 4 tab salt, 2 tab coconut sugar and 1 tab ground white pepper in a spice grinder and blend well. (Leftover can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months)

These were the original quantities from the book, however, I only ever make half the mixture.  White sugar was used in their recipe.

2.  Combine 3 tsp of the salt and pepper mixture to ½ tsp five-spice powder. Add a good pinch of potato flour.

3.  Toss the tofu in this mixture and let stand for a few minutes.

4.  Heat the oil in a wok. While heating, toss the tofu pieces in potato flour and let rest for a minute before frying.

5.  Fry tofu pieces in batches until brown and crisp.  Drain on paper towelling.

6.  Toss in a bowl with coconut sugar, baby basil leaves and extra salt and pepper mixture to taste.

Serve with soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free) as a side or rice and steamed greens with a sesame dressing.


           Shared goodness from Donna

tofu with a sweet tamari sauce

27th June 2009


This is one of my favourite tofu dishes.  It was introduced to me by my dear friends and neighbours, Anna and Leon.  This dish is even better when you make your tofu, which involves the process of soaking, blending, and cooking soybeans and mixing them with a natural solidifier (nigari or lemon juice).

The sauce is delicious served over an equal mash of potato and sweet potato, a crisp green salad, and brown rice.

tofu with a sweet tamari sauce


1 block of tofu, cut into 4cm squares

½ cup whole-spelt flour

1 Tbsp each white & black sesame seeds

peanut oil for frying


¼ cup tamari

4 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp finely grated ginger

2 Tbsp mirin

2 – 4  Tbsp maple syrup


1.  Prepare the sauce; pour the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes -set aside.

2.  Prepare the tofu; combine the flour and sesame seeds together in a plastic bag. In stages, place the tofu into the bag and shake to cover in flour evenly. Any leftover flour can be kept in a plastic bag and stored in the freezer for use next time.

3.  Heat a deep skillet and cover with a bit of oil.  Don’t use too much. Add the tofu when the oil is hot, leaving a space in between. This may have to be done in stages. Turn over, fry until golden, then remove and place on a paper towel.

4.  When ready to serve, place tofu in a serving dish and pour over a little sauce. Leave the remainder to use as a side serving.


Shared goodness by Stacey

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