Tofu is actually bean curd and although not very Indian in origin, it has become a large part of the global diet. Tofu is a very rich source of protein, iron & calcium. It is also a very low calorie food & contains absolutely no cholesterol. Tofu is a nutritious food source for both vegetarians & non-vegetarians alike.
Korma is characterized as a mildly spiced curry dish. It is thought to have its origins in Mughal cuisine (North Indian or Punjabi cuisine) but the korma style curry dish has also been adapted by South India. Punjabi kormas are often made with either yogurt or cream and usually contain nuts (cashews or almonds usually). South Indian kormas tend to be more coconut based & rather spicy but are equally delicious.
Traditionally, this Punjabi korma dish is made using paneer but I have adapted the recipe for the use of tofu. But feel free to use either tofu or paneer accordingly with your own personal preferences.
VEGETABLE TOFU KORMA
1 block of extra firm tofu, well drained & cubed into 1½ to 2" pieces (or 2 cups of paneer cubes -- 1½ to 2" in size)
½ cup unsalted cashews or almonds (gently toasted in dry skillet)
1 tsp white poppy seeds (gently toasted in a dry skillet)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi), gently crushed – optional
salt & pepper, to taste
1 carrot, peeled and diced (small & even sized pieces)
5-6 baby corn, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup of green peas (frozen is fine) or edamame
¾ to 1 cup of tomato puree (feel free to add less if you prefer)
½ a green pepper, julienned
½ a red pepper, julienned
juice of ½ lemon
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
a few toasted cashews or almonds for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
If you are using paneer cubes:
In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil and pan fry the paneer cubes until golden brown on all sides. Remove, drain well & set aside until needed.
OR if you are using tofu:
Make sure the tofu is well drained & there is absolutely no moisture left – otherwise the tofu cubes will not brown properly. You can also lightly blot the tofu with some paper towels or a tea towel.
In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil. Then pan fry the tofu cubes until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove, drain well & set aside until needed.
Now using a spice grinder, grind together the cashews and poppy seeds into a fine powder. Transfer into a small bowl & add just enough water to make a thick paste. Set aside until needed.
To the same large deep skillet on medium high heat, add 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, add the onions along with the garlic & ginger. Stir-fry until the onions are lightly browned & fragrant. Then add in the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, garam masala, red chili powder, dried fenugreek leaves, salt & pepper). Let the spices cook for just a couple of minutes & then stir in the cashew/poppy seed paste. Let cook for a few minutes before adding in the vegetables – add the carrots first, since they take longer to cook. Next, after a few minutes – add in the green peas & baby corn. Stir fry for another minute or so & then add in the tomato puree. Now generally, a korma is a thick curry but feel free to add a little water until your desired consistency is reached. Then reduce the heat to low, cover & cook for about 5-6 minutes. Lastly, add in the bell peppers along with the lemon juice & the tofu cubes (or paneer cubes). Mix gently to combine well & cook uncovered for another 3-5 minutes. Now I prefer my bell peppers to have a little crunch, but if you would like them completely tender – just cook the dish for a few more minutes. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves & toasted nuts. Serve hot with fresh naans, rotis or fragrant Basmati rice.
Basically any vegetable will work well in this dish, so feel free to add your favorites or local seasonal vegetables to the recipe. Try zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkin, acorn/butternut squash, mushrooms, leafy greens, potatoes, cauliflower/broccoli florets, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, snow peas, sugar snap peas, green beans….