Tofu shashlik

Crispy tofu in an onion, garlic and ginger sauce – all the satisfaction of a takeaway for vegan enthusiasts

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  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Small piece of fresh root ginger, roughly chopped (not essential)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin, seeds or ground
  • Pinch or two of chilli flakes
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g peppers, chopped
  • 200g frozen spinach
  • 100g firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 2 tsp any flour
  • Few pinches of salt
  • 100g frozen peas, or a handful of greens (optional)

Take-aways generally have a fairly decent range for herbivores, but I often find myself hankering after a shashlik. Shashlik is usually skewered meat cooked in spices before being blasted in a tandoor oven, and having neither a tandoor nor any inclination to nibble on a duck or a lamb, I started to ponder how I could make a reasonably authentic veggie version. Mushrooms were out, aubergine would probably be okay, but wasn’t quite what I wanted, and then I landed on the reduced tofu in the supermarket. Bingo. The tofu shashlik was born. I posted it on Twitter and hundreds of you asked for the recipe, so here it is.

  1. Toss the onion, garlic and ginger into a saucepan with a splash of the oil. Add the spices and cook on medium heat for a few minutes to start to soften. Pour in the tomatoes and add the peppers and spinach, stir well and transfer to a back burner on low heat to cook. This forms the sauce for the shashlik and will benefit from the longest possible cooking time you can bear to give it. I do mine for around an hour, but not everyone’s budgets and patience will stretch to that, so 15 minutes is just fine.
  2. When the sauce is thickened and smells delicious, you can start to cook the tofu.
  3. Pop it in a bowl with the flour and a pinch of salt. Give it a shake to coat it and slightly rough up the edges – this is important for the crisp factor, as dishevelled edges cook faster than clean and tidy Stepford Wives ones. This is the secret to perfect roast potatoes, too – to throw them around a bit.
  4. Gently grease a frying pan with a little of the oil and pop over high heat to warm it, then carefully add the tofu. Cook for three to four minutes, then turn the tofu over to cook it on the other side. A cube has six sides, remember, so there is going to be some serious turning over to do if you are determined to have the crispiest tofu in all the land. When it is as crisp as you like, remove it and pop it in the pan of sauce sitting on the back of the stove.
  5. Give it a quick stir and stir through the peas or greens, if you are cooking it for someone special (that can be you, you are special).

Cooking on a Bootstrap: Over 100 simple, budget recipes by Jack Monroe (£15.99, Bluebird) iout now


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