Za’atar Tofu Jalfrezi


Yes, I’m a Texas lovin’ carnivore, who’d rather have double protein on my plate than carbs. In fact, you probably don’t wanna’ be around me when I’m low on protein intake. For me, beans have always been a side dish, but since moving to the East Coast about 14 years ago now, I’ve upped my protein game to include legumes as main dishes and happily consume a regular amount of tofu.

Tofu scares people, and I have no idea why. It is so incredibly versatile and easy to cook with. Tofu does require a hell of a lot of seasoning though, as it is a blank, bland slate otherwise. I crumble it to make chili, tacos, or sloppy joys. I batter and fry it up to serve with mashed potatoes and gravy or toss it with Buffalo wing sauce. When I want to add it to soups or curries, I season it well and pan sear it, which is the method I chose for this Jalfrezi dish.

Ingredients

1 block firm tofu, cut into 1/4″ squares

2 – 3 tbsp Za’atar seasoning

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Garam Masala

1″ piece of ginger root, peeled and minced

2 green cardamom pods

6 – 8 curry leaves

1 bell pepper, julienned

1/2 med sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 -3 med tomatoes, quartered

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, butter or Ghee

salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes: sliced Thai bird chilies and fresh cilantro

Method

In a large mixing bowl, toss the tofu with the Za’atar, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a cast iron skillet over med high flame, add the toasted sesame oil and heat until shimmering. Add to the hot oil the curry leaves and cardamom pods and fry until the oil is very fragrant 3 – 5 minutes. Remove the curry leaves and cardamom pods and discard.

In batches, fry the seasoned tofu until crisp on all sides. Rest the tofu on paper towels until ready to add back to the dish.

In the same skillet, add the bell pepper, onion, and sauté until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add next the tomatoes, turmeric, and Garam Masala and continue cooking an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tofu and turn off the heat.

Sever the Jalfrezi immediately with Thai Bird chilies, fresh cilantro, naan, and/or Basmati rice.

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