Photos by Lindsey Johnson
Indian food is my favorite for dining out. Historically speaking, I can’t say the same for cooking it at home. I mean, it’s always a favorite to eat, but the preparation can be rather intimidating. For me, this has been the case with many types of foods, and since I started blogging, I realized there’s one way to get over these types of fears: you dive right in, head first.
Did that conjure up an image of diving into a giant pot of hot, steaming vindaloo? I hope so, because that sounds delightful, to me anyway.
Vindaloo is definitely a favorite Indian dish, sort of. I found out recently that the vindaloos I’ve dined on haven’t been traditional vindaloos, which would contain potatoes. I think I knew somewhere in my brain that “aloo” translated to “potato,” but ignored it, as every vindaloo I’ve ever eaten was a mix of tender veggies in a spicy sauce, with no potatoes to be found.
I actually prefer my vindaloo this way, as I like a generous serving of rice and naan with my Indian food, and the veggies result in a meal that’s a bit more balanced when served with these sides. That’s why I went for a mixed veggie dish when I created my own vindaloo recipe. I also added tofu, making the dish even more balanced in flavor and nutrition. The tofu is surprisingly reminiscent of paneer (pressed Indian cheese, in case you aren’t familiar), so it works beautifully. So, basically I took what could be a traditional vindaloo recipe and rearranged it all over the place. How’s that for diving in head-first?
Another way this recipe differs from some other vindaloo recipes you may have seen is in the fact that it is way simplified. You’ll often find grinding and toasting of spices in Indian recipes. Not here, and I promise you won’t taste a difference. The ingredients list, while on the longish side, is primarily made up of stuff you have in your pantry. Asian chili paste is the one seasoning that might be iffy, depending where you live. Lots of supermarkets stock it in the ethnic foods sections these days. If you can’t find it there, you can try an Asian market or online. If you’ve got absolutely every other ingredient needed to make this dish and are so enticed by reading this that you’ve got to start right away, just go with some dried cayenne pepper to taste. It should give you the heat you need in what is a traditionally spicy dish.
For the vindaloo paste:
- 1 small onion quartered
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon Asian chili paste or to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Tofu Vindaloo:
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral-flavored vegetable oil
- 1 15-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 20 minutes and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 medium head cauliflower chopped into florets
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 cups fresh green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
- Rice or naan for serving
To make the vindaloo paste:
- Place all of the paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until it reaches a paste consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. Set aside.
To make the Tofu Vindaloo:
- Add the oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the tofu and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so, until it's lightly browned.
- Push the tofu out to the sides of the of the saucepan, making a space in the center. Add the vindaloo paste to the center and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the broth, tomato paste, cider vinegar and brown sugar. Stir gently to combine, then bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower, pepper and green beans.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of water during cooking if sauce becomes too thick.
- Divide onto plates and serve with rice or naan.