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Tofu Vindaloo

Tofu Vindaloo

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.

Tofu Vindaloo Ingredients
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?

Vindaloo Paste
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.

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Tofu Vindaloo

Tofu Vindaloo

Seared tofu and tender veggies simmered together with Indian spices–what could be better? Forget take-out–this is a spicy veggie vindaloo you can make right at home.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

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

Instructions

To make the vindaloo paste:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Divide onto plates and serve with rice or naan.

Notes

Vindaloo is one of the spicier Indian dishes. This version is a medium-hot version. If you like super-spicy vindaloo, feel free to up the chili paste. If you’re not into spicy, or aren’t sure, cut down on the chili paste. You can always add a bit more at the end if it turns out too mild.

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    Renee
    September 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Hello! I always end up visiting this blog for ideas. I gave up meat a year ago,and through blogs like these, I’ve found it so much easier to cook tasty vegetarian meals. This looked so good, I hope I can try it when I am not so busy with school work!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Renee! Glad to hear you’re enjoying our recipes. This one was one of my favorites, so I hope you get a change to try it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    September 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Oh wow, that looks incredibly yummy! Can I live in your kitchen? 🙂

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks Rebecca! My kitchen is a total mess, but I’m always looking for taste testers. 😉

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    September 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    This looks fabulous!!! I’ve been looking for a solid vindaloo recipe and I definitely think this one fits the bill. It looks so flavourful yet easy. Love that you added some tofu for some added texture and protein. Cannot wait to try this 🙂

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      It was really good! I’ve had veggie vidaloos that I really enjoyed, but the tofu definitely took it to another level.

  • Reply
    Emma
    September 25, 2014 at 5:46 am

    How fabulous does this look?! So hearty and love that thick sauce!
    The pics are beautiful too.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Definitely hearty! A perfect meal for a chilly fall day. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate
    September 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    This looks delicious! While a lot of Indian curries keep well in the fridge for a few days and can even be frozen, given this recipe uses tofu can it be frozen/reheated? Or am I better off making this for a crowd when it’s likely to be eaten in one sitting?

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      I stored leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days and they were just fine. Freezing might be a little iffy though, since it changes the texture of tofu. If you want to freeze it I’d say leave the tofu out and then cook it up as instructed in the recipe and add it to the veggies after thawing. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir
    September 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    This sounds/looks heavenly! Love, love all the spices going into that sauce. I doubt anyone could call tofu universally bland after this dish!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Definitely not! And honestly, if someone would have fed this to me and told me the tofu was paneer, I would have believed them. 🙂

  • Reply
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner
    September 25, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I’m all over this tofu! Yum and the spicier the better

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      Agreed! And this dish is pretty darn spicy!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    September 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I LOVE making Indian food at home but you’re right…it can totally be intimidating! Love that you’ve simplified so that it can be made by the home cook and still be just as delicious!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      September 29, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      I’m totally with you! Simplifying definitely makes home Indian food cooking more doable. 🙂

  • Reply
    Marcel
    October 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Alissa, this recipe lived a couple of weeks on a pin in my Pinterest and today I’ve cooked it. Simply fantastic, easy to prepare and the kitchen and house smell delightfully. I was (silly) out of rice and decided to serve this vindaloo tofu with baked potatoes – and did not regret it at all.

    Many thanks for you kind posting of this recipe and the clear description.

    You’ve gained a fan.
    Greetings from Rotterdam!

  • Reply
    Alissa
    October 7, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Hi Marcel!
    Yay!! I do seem to remember the house smelling amazing when I made this. Nice save with the baked potatoes – that actually sounds like a great way to serve this on a chilly day, and I might try it out myself. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sandhya Hariharan
    October 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    OMG !! This is gorgeous.. Tofu Vindaloo….. Way to go Alissa.. Being a veggie, I am always on look out for more veggie food !! This is spot on !

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you! I totally know the feeling and I’m glad to help!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Becky
    October 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I quite liked this! Though I found it a little too sweet and mild, so next time around I’ll amp up the flavour and umami 🙂 I used peas instead of green beans because it’s what I had on hand, and there’s something so delightful about those little green guys floating in a savoury sauce

    • Reply
      Alissa
      October 23, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Glad you liked it! You could definitely adjust the spice level to your liking. I love Indian dishes with peas, so they sound like an awesome substitution here. 🙂

  • Reply
    karol wickert
    November 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I was thinking that when I went vegan I was really going to miss Indian food the most BUT not so much now. Thank you.

    Btw do you think there is a vindaloo paste already made up that I can buy somewhere?

    Thank you !

    • Reply
      Alissa
      November 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Karol! I have seen jarred vindaloo paste at some Indian grocery stores, but I’ve never tried it myself. I’d imagine the intensity could vary, so you might need to experiment a bit with the amount. I hope you enjoy it – and if you do go with a store bought paste I’d be interested in hearing how it turns out.

  • Reply
    Profesta
    November 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Wow. Was looking for a good vegetarian recipe blog since it seems like a majority of blogs I run across have meat in it(I love meat, but like to keep it to 2-3 meals a week). Found this blog and this recipe perked my interest. Tried out the recipe, and I am not disappointed. Cant wait to make this for my parents, who are vegetarian. This is delicious! Next up is going to be the kale hummus.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      November 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Glad you found us and so glad to hear you enjoyed the vindaloo! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and let me know. 🙂 The kale hummus has been on my list of recipes to try for a while as well (thanks for reminding me). Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}
    December 5, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Amazing! Love that I stumbled across this, and I REALLY love that I have all the ingredients in my cupboard ready to go…!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      December 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks Emma! In that case, I’m glad you stumbled across this too. I hope you enjoy it!!

  • Reply
    Fall in love with FOOD
    December 24, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Awesome, Thank You 🙂

    • Reply
      Alissa
      December 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      You’re welcome. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Julia
    February 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I prefer my tofu marinated and baked so, … instead of pan frying the tofu cubes, I made the sauce, heated it and dropped the tofu in. I turned off the stove and left the tofu to marinate in the sauce for a couple of hours. Then I finished making the recipe. I also subbed green peas for the green beans. Pretty darned tasty!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      February 9, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Nice modification! I’ll bet the tofu soaked up the flavors nicely. Glad to hear you liked it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Plated Blogger
    March 9, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Instead of using the spice mixture, can you use a premade Garam Masala spice blend? It seems like they share the same spices.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      March 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Most garam masala blends I’ve tried have a few more spices than those the recipe calls for. If you find one with the same ingredients, then absolutely. If you use one that’s a bit different then obviously it will change the flavor, but I think it will still come out tasty.

  • Reply
    Vicky
    April 26, 2015 at 7:57 am

    This is a great recipe. I love the clean flavours of the fresh spices compared to jarred. It’s very easy too. I’ve not always had the same veggies so I’ve switched them up a bit sometimes – one time using Frozen Cauli peas and spinach – even faster to prepare! Sometimes only have count oil, so used that. And once I forgot the sugar and the difference was only slight.
    I think this will be my recipe for introducing novices to tofu – as you say, it works like paneer here.
    Thank you very much

    • Reply
      Alissa
      April 27, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      So glad you’re enjoying it! Thanks so much for sharing, Vicky!

  • Reply
    Vicky
    April 26, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Should be ‘coconut oil’ not ‘count oil’!

  • Reply
    amanda
    May 29, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Hi Alissa! I found your blog recently and love it! I made tofu vindaloo last night and it was just GREAT, I’d been looking for a vegetarian vindaloo and your recipe is excellent. One question though. Do you use a nonstick pan for this recipe? I pressed my tofu for 40 minutes, then I heated my stainless steel pan, heated the canola oil til it shimmered, but the tofu stuck to the pan. Much of it browned nicely, but I had to scrape at it, and not many of the 1″ cubes made it intact. What did I do wrong?

    Also wanted to note, I used Vindaloo spice powder I bought a few months ago on a whim, and it worked great. I calculated that you used about 4.5t of dry spices, so that’s how much I put it of the Vindaloo powder. I added your same measure of salt and pepper.

    Thanks again, this is a great recipe and I look forward to trying more!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      May 30, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Amanda! So glad you enjoyed this! I didn’t use a nonstick pan when I made this, but I often do when making pan-fried tofu. It sounds like you did everything right by pressing the tofu well and preheating the oil. A couple other things you could try are adding a bit more oil and using the firmest possible tofu – Trader Joe’s has one that I really like. If you’re still having trouble you could go with nonstick or well seasoned cast iron, even if that means cooking the tofu in a skillet and then transferring to a larger saucepan so you can add everything else. Thanks for the tip on the vindaloo powder – I’ve had a couple of questions on that, so knowing the amount and that it worked will come in handy. 🙂

  • Reply
    Teri of NC
    June 3, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I just found your blog and tried this recipe. It was soooo good! Thank you for posting it! I look forward to trying more of your recipes.

    • Reply
      Alissa
      June 12, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      So glad you liked it! I hope you get to try out and enjoy some more of our recipes. Thanks Teri!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    January 30, 2017 at 6:20 am

    I was really craving curry last night and made this – so, so good! I had it with a side of simple saag (just spinach and chopped tomatoes mixed with some crushed chillies, salt and garam masala) and it was amazing 🙂

    I am genuinely so excited to have found this recipe – I think it is going to become a staple for me. So thank you!

    • Reply
      Alissa
      January 30, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Thanks so much Hannah! Glad you enjoyed it! This is one of my favorite recipes to have for dinner during the winter months. 🙂

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