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 just 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 to obtain the freshest of freshest garam masala powder.  You could try in an Indian store or ideally make your own, here. If you don’t have garam masala, replace 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 tomato, 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 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 version of spicy, I would only add ½ tsp of 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

mung beans with tofu & tomatoes

30th June 2009


This dish was first made by our dear Amin, who was with us for 7 years before she went back to her home country.  She was very inspiring to have in the kitchen as she would invent and whip up a dish in a matter of minutes.  Usually, it was very difficult to obtain recipes from her, as she would always forget an extremely vital ingredient that usually would make or break the recipe.  Thanks, Amin for all your wonderful recipes and taking care of us!

If I am organised in the mornings and already decide what to cook that evening,  I soak the dal or beans during the day to use that evening.  This makes the cooking time much less and make them easier to digest.

mung beans with tofu & tomatoes

Preparation – 40 minutes

Serves 2


½ cup green whole mung beans

3 cups water (add more if needed)

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp ghee

½ cup tofu cubes (1 cm)

1 or 2 Tbsp ghee/oil

3 small roma tomatoes, chopped

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp rasam powder

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tsp jaggery

handful of fresh coriander


1.  Wash the mung beans in a saucepan until the water runs clear, drain, add 3 cups water, turmeric and ghee – simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans start to break down and are soft.

prepare the voggarane

2.  In a deep skillet, add ghee, when hot, add the tofu, and allow to brown on all sides.

3.  Add the cumin, ginger and rasam powder – fry for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, simmer on low for 10 minutes with the lid on.

4.  Pour the cooked mung beans into the tomatoes, add lemon juice, salt, a good helping of freshly ground pepper, jaggery, a handful of fresh coriander.

Serve with a green garden salad and rice/quinoa.

Shared goodness from Stacey

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 own tofu which involves the process of soaking, blending, and cooking soybeans and mixing them with a natural solidifier (nigari or lemon juice).

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 chopped fresh 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 evenly cover in flour mixture. Any leftover flour can be kept in the plastic bag and stored in the freezer to be used next time.

3.  Heat a deep skillet and just cover with a little oil.  Don’t use too much. When the oil is hot, add the tofu, leaving a space in between. This may have to be done in two stages. Turn over, and when golden, remove and place on a paper towel.

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

The sauce is delicious served with a mixture of mashed potato and sweet potato, a green salad and brown rice.


Shared goodness from Stacey

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