No matter how I dress up and rearrange the words “peas” and “tofu”, I don’t think I can adequately communicate to you the magic and the sexiness of this combination. These little green peas and tofu squares,
even (pfft) especially reheated on the stove the next day had me saying “oh my god” to myself with my eyes closed, making a face like an old woman who just rediscovered a long-lost family heirloom. It’s only the tastiest of tasty that makes me utter to myself and act out strange things alone at the dining table, so I knew I needed to share.
I’ve had plenty of mattar paneer (peas and cheese) and mattar tofu before, from restaurants, frozen boxes, and awkward potlucks, but this version of the dish is by far the tastiest and most flavorful. It came together ridiculously simply and can easily be veganized (or veganised, depending on how British of a vegan you are.) And for the sake of (semi)seasonal appropriateness, be assured that this mattar tofu is wholesome and healthy and therefore likely acceptable to almost any New Years diet/resolution craziness that anyone might be employing! Do it up! Take pictures! Enjoy!
mattar tofu (spiced peas and tofu simmered with tomatoes and onions)
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon butter (olive oil to make vegan; divided)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1-2 teaspoons garam masala (I made a mix of my own using cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaf)
2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika ground red pepper to taste (I used a bit less than a teaspoon, I think)
1 can of diced tomatoes (14 ounces)
1 bag of frozen peas (10 ounces)
hearty splash of non-dairy milk or cream (optional)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
one 14-ounce brick of super firm sprouted tofu (unsprouted tofu works, too)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste, but make sure there is enough. you’ll know because it will go from “flavorful and healthy-tasting” to HOLYCRAP I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING)
black pepper to taste
Press your tofu to remove excess water. I use two matching plates, a cloth napkin to absorb the liquid, and a big fat bottle of olive oil as the weight. Place the tofu between folds of the cloth napkin as if the napkin were the loosest weirdest pita pocket ever. Put the blanketed tofu on one of the plates, top with the other plate (upside-down) with something heavy (like a big bottle of olive oil) as a weight. Set aside.
Put two tablespoons of the butter or oil in a big hot skillet. As it melts, but before it turns hideous black-brown, throw in the onions, stir, and let sizzle. Cook the onions over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and onion and sizzle for another minute. Toss in the garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and paprika. Stir, letting the spices absorb the heat and distribute their saucy little selves all over the onions. Smell and adjust the spices to your liking, adding more turmeric and paprika for something a bit brighter and fruitier, and more cumin and coriander for something more earthy and intense. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Stir. Add the frozen peas and stir. Add a bit of water (maybe half a cup). To make the simmering sauce a bit creamier and more robust, add the hearty splash of non-dairy milk/cream and nutritional yeast (or nooch, if you’re us). Stir and allow mixture come back to a happy simmer.
Meanwhile, cut your tofu. Squares are fun for this dish and hold up well to gentle stirring. When the tofu is cut as you like and the mixture is simmering, carefully add the tofu to the pan along with the last tablespoon of fat. (I like to add the second knob of butter toward the end of the cooking process because I think it preserves the milky rich tastes in the butter instead of just the fat; if you’re using olive oil, you’ll enjoy a floral richness.) Stir gently. Let simmer uncovered for 10-20 minutes or until it’s as thick as you’d like it. Season with salt and pepper. Serve unaccompanied in a simple bowl, atop rice, or alongside some warm naan. To reheat, throw it in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. It’s easy and somehow it’s even more delicious than the day before.