Tofu for chicken

Jokes about tofu aside, it really is a wonderfully versatile food. Nutritional benefits include:

  • high protein
  • significant fiber
  • a fermented food
  • significant source of minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and calcium (if made with calcium sulfate method)
  • low fat

But its most useful attribute might not be nutritional. It’s extremely easy to use and rather flavorless. Which means you get to create the flavor with seasonings, sauces and cooking techniques. There are plenty of recipes that make it easy to substitute tofu for meat, particularly chicken.

Tofu tastes nothing like chicken. As noted above, it has very little flavor. Chicken has a mild and distinctive flavor, but not as heavy/meaty as beef or pork. So certain chicken recipes are particularly easy to adapt to a vegan or vegetarian version with tofu. Added benefit: tofu really doesn’t have to be cooked, just heated. And unlike chicken, it’s not messy; you don’t have to carefully wash off your cutting board and knife to prevent bacterial contamination.

I found a recipe for tandoori chicken skewers, and thought it would work with tofu, with a few adjustments. One adjustment: tofu will not work well on skewers on a grill. The tofu would easily stick and then fall apart when you tried to pick it up. It works fine baked in the oven. As this recipe uses yogurt, it’s vegetarian but not vegan.

Tandoori Tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 package of firm tofu
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek style)
  • 1-1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TB canola or peanut oil
  • lime wedges and mint or cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 300º
  2. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1 inch cubes
  3. Mix together the yogurt, spices and oil
  4. Gently mix the tofu with the yogurt mixture. Arrange tofu in one layer in a glass or ceramic baking dish.
  5. Cover dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and heated through.
  6. If you like, broil briefly to brown the tofu chunks before serving. This is not necessary.
  7. Garnish with lime, chopped mint and/or cilantro and salt to taste. Serve with rice or flatbread (like naan), both good for mopping up extra sauce.

Can this be made vegan? It would mean using something other than yogurt for the sauce. You could try a soy yogurt, but those might not hold up as well to heating. Another option would be canned coconut cream. It should work for texture, but would add more fat, in case that’s an issue.

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