Tofu and Peppers in Gravy


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This is a gravy dish that is a versatile accompaniment to Chinese Fried Rice, Chinese noodles, plain brown or white rice. Bursting with authentic flavor, it is a healthful, less oily and hearty alternative to the traditionally popular Gobi/Cauliflower Manchurian and Vegetable Manchurian, that is still the most widely used gravy accompaniment for Indian Chinese rice and noodle dishes.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • Tofu (a rectangular slab 1.5’x1’x3′ in dimension) (chopped into cubes)
  • Bell peppers in varying colors (red, orange, yellow, green or whatever is available to you) (chopped into cubes)
  • Spring/Green onions (chopped finely keeping the white and green parts separate)
  • Ginger (crushed – 1 tsp)
  • Garlic (crushed – 1 tsp)
  • Dried red chilli flakes (crushed – 1 tsp)
  • Soy sauce (2 tbsp)
  • Chilli sauce (1 tsp)
  • Vinegar (1 tbsp)
  • Tomato ketchup (optional – 1 tbsp)
  • Sugar (1 tsp)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black Pepper powder (1 tsp)
  • Corn flour (1 tbsp)
  • Coriander or parsley or mint leaves (finely chopped for garnishing)
  • Oil (1 tbsp)

Method:

  • Saute the tofu until golden brown on medium heat in a pan with a drizzling of oil. Keep it aside.
  • In the same pan, saute the cut bell pepper with a little salt on high heat in a little oil. Ensure that the bell pepper retains its crunch. Keep it aside.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, make a paste of the garlic, ginger and red chilli flakes. Keep it aside.
  • Make a paste of the corn flour with a little water (1/2 cup) and make sure that there are no lumps. Keep it aside.
  • Heat the oil on medium heat, add the whites of the spring onions, ginger-garlic-chilli paste and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add greens of spring onions, salt, sugar, pepper, sauces and mix well.
  • Add the corn flour paste.
  • Bring the entire mixture to a boil.
  • Add more water if necessary, to bring the gravy to the desired consistency. Adjust the tastes as necessary.
  • Add the browned tofu and the sauteed bell pepper to the gravy.
  • Garnish with the leaves.

Tastes (Rasas):

Sweet (tofu, corn flour), sour (vinegar), salty (salt, soy sauce), bitter (leaves, greens of spring onions, bell peppers), pungent (ginger, garlic, chilli flakes, pepper, whites of spring onions), astringent (leaves, greens of spring onions).

Doshic Influence:

Tofu is basically curdled soy milk. It is good for vata and okay for pitta, but kapha aggravating. Peppers are light, pungent and bitter. They are pitta and vata aggravating and okay for kapha. The spices and sauces used in this preparation e.g. ginger, garlic, chilli flakes, vinegar, soy sauce are mostly pitta provoking in nature. So they should not be overused.

Effects on the Mind (Gunas):

In general this dish can easily be made in a rajasic or even tamasic manner. To increase the sattva of this preparation, use fresh ingredients and minimize the use of preservative laden sauces. Also, increasing the sweet taste and minimizing the pungent, sour and salty tastes will increase sattvic nature of this recipe. Excessive use of garlic, ginger, chilli, soy sauce, pepper, salt, vinegar etc. can make this into a more rajasic recipe. Excessive use of anything from a bottle i.e. sauces that are preservative laden and not prepared fresh, can increase the tamasic quality of the dish.


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