Terrific Tofu

Tofu is basically a soft, cheese-like food made by curdling fresh hot soymilk with a coagulant. These curds then are generally pressed into a solid block. As cheese is to milk, tofu is to soymilk. The resulting curds are drained and pressed in a fashion similar to cheese making. The firmness of the resulting tofu depends on how much whey has been extracted. Tofu has a bland, slightly nutty flavor that gives it a chameleonlike capability to take on the flavor of the food with which it's cooked. It's texture is smooth and creamy yet it's firm enough to slice.

There are two types of tofu - Regular and Silken.

Regular Tofu

The regular tofu is firm and is usually used for sautéing. This firm tofu is dense and solid and holds up well in stir fry dishes, soups, or on the grill -- anywhere that you want the tofu to maintain its shape.

Freezing tofu alters the texture of tofu. It becomes dense and absorbs more flavor. Freezing removes some of the liquid content from tofu to give firmer meaty consistency. Thus tofu develops the miraculous ability to soak up any flavor that is added to it. Freezing is a wonderful technique that can be applied only for regular tofu.

Silken Tofu

Silken tofu is made by a slightly different process that results in a creamy, custard-like product. Silken tofu works well in pureed or blended dishes. Silken tofu should not be frozen, as you could do with Regular tofu..

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Minty tofu kabob

½ cup mint leaves
3-4 green chilies
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup peanuts
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 red bell pepper (chopped in one inch pieces)
10-12 white pearl onion
10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 packet frozen tofu (thawed)
1 tablespoon oil

In a blender, add mint, chilies, sesame seeds, peanuts, yogurt, salt and sugar. Make a puree. Keep aside.

Thaw the frozen tofu and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop into one inch cubes. Place the cubes in a big bowl and add the mint puree. Marinate for at least couple of hours. (For more intense flavor, marinate overnight.)

Heat a fry pan and add the marinated tofu cubes in a single layer. Add a few drops of oil around each cube, but do not disturb them. With a spatula, apply pressure on each cube and squeeze out the moisture. Let it cook on each side till golden brown and flip the cubes. Remove from heat and place these tofu cubes on a skewer with tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper.

Serve on a bed of white rice

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Veggie-tofu cutlets

This is a great sandwhich filler or can be served with soup for a light supper

1 large potato (peeled and chopped)
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 small beet ( peeled and chopped)
½ cup peas ( frozen)
½ packet tofu
1 inch of ginger
3-4 green chilies
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 slices of bread
1 cup bread crumbs or as needed

In a boiling pot of water add potatoes, and beets. Cook till tender. Add cauliflower and peas and cook for 5 minutes. Make a paste of ginger, chilies and vinegar in a small blender.

Drain away all the water and place the cooked veggies in a bowl. With a potato masher, make a coarse puree. Crumble the tofu, ginger chili mix with the vegetable puree. Soak bread in water and squeeze out the water. Add breadcrumbs to make a semi-stiff dough.

Take lemon sizeball of dough and flatten it to one inch thickness. Roll it in bread crumbs and place in a heated pan. Add ¼ teaspoon oil per cutlet and brown on both sides.

Serve hot with ketchup or green cilantro chutney.

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Tofu Carrot Halwah

5 cups carrots (grated)
¼ cup cashew
1 silken tofu
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange essence

In thick bottom pan place grated carrots and cook it on low heat for 5 minutes.

Make a fine powder of cashew in a blender. Add silken tofu and make a smooth puree. Add this puree and sugar to the carrot mix. Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower heat and cook for 25 minutes. Stir every 3-4 minutes.
Finally add orange essence and mix well. Serve piping hot or chilled.

Hema's Hints:

For an interesting presentation, serve in orange cups. Cut orange into half and scoop out the pulp. Stuff the carrot halwah with a garnish of cranberries

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